Today is the first official day of fall! What better way to ring in this new season than a super easy pumpkin cake recipe.

But let me tell you, here on Bali I don’t feel fall coming at all. The tropical climate here doesn’t really have four seasons, and if any change at all, it is getting warmer now. This being the Southern hemisphere it is more like winter is ending now and spring starts.

But pumpkin cake is an awesome way to fake fall! Paired with cream cheese icing and toasted walnuts I can almost see the leaves turning their colors and twirling down from the trees.

Oh wait, never mind, that must be hallucinations from the cake high.

If your are using a spice cake mix and canned pumpkin puree this could be a three (!) ingredients cake.

But, alas, I am on a tropical island with limited range of Western products. So I mixed my own spice cake by adding cinnamon, dark brown sugar and vanilla bean powder to a butter cake mix. You could also add cloves, cardamon or pumpkin spice, but I made do with was I can get here.

Otherwise, all you do is mix the cake mix with the required number of eggs (3 in my case) and 1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin puree. The pumpkin puree eliminates any need for adding liquid or fat/oil to the cake mix, resulting in a very low calorie treat – and you don’t even taste it :)

I also couldn’t find any canned pumpkin puree here. I wonder if it even is available anywhere outside of North America. But I could buy some fresh pumpkin (just a slice, so glad I didn’t have to get a whole one) from the produce section here.

And it is actually not hard at all to make your own pumpkin puree. Even without a blender. It takes time, but it is not difficult (instructions in recipe below).

You can bake the cake in a 9×13″ pan and leave it at that. Or make little cakelets like me. I used a glass with 3″ diameter to cut circles from the chilled cake. A cookie cutter that size would work even better.

This cream cheese icing is quick and simple to stir together and makes a great topping. But I don’t recommend it as filling or frosting for big layer cakes. For this purpose I love using Rose Levy Beranbaum’s White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting from the Cake Bible.

Easy Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Easy Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting


    Pumpkin Cake
  • 1 box butter or spice cake mix (18 oz.)
  • 1 3/4 cup pumpkin puree (15 oz. can or home-made)
  • 3 eggs (or as required on cake mix box)
  • only, if not using spice cake
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. vanilla (powder or paste)
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla (powder or paste will give the icing pretty black specks)
  • 1 tbsp. lemon or lime juice
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • walnuts
  • To make your own pumpkin puree
  • pumpkin
  • oil
  • 1 cup water


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour 9x13" cake pan. Mix together cake mix, eggs, pumpkin puree and spices (if not using spice cake mix). Fill into cake pan and bake for 25-30 mins.
  2. Toast some walnuts in the oven at 350F for 10 minutes, stirring once after 5 min. Chop cooled walnuts. Whip butter and cream cheese together until combined. Stir in vanilla and lemon juice. Mix in icing sugar a couple tablespoons at a time until smooth.
  3. Spread icing over cake in pan and sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Or cut into cakelet circles first. Spread cream cheese frosting on one circle and sprinkle with walnuts, top with another cakelet circle and repeat.
  4. To make your own pumpkin puree:
  5. Wipe pumpkin outside. Cut into halves or quarters and clean out seeds (toast for a snack) and fibers with a metal spoon. Wipe cut sides with a little bit of oil and place pumpkin pieces in a roasting pan. Fill pan with water and bake at 350F for about 90 minutes until flesh is soft.
  6. Let cool enough so you can handle the pumpkin pieces. Peel of the skin and mash pumpkin flesh with a fork etc. (you can also use a blender). Drain pumpkin puree through a sieve lined with paper towels or coffee filters for a couple hours, stirring once in a while. The process can be sped up if you have a cheesecloth. Place puree in cheesecloth and squeeze out excess water.
  7. Leftover pumpkin puree freezes well for future uses.


Do you love the aromas of fall baking as much as me? What is you favorite fall recipe?


Last year I created an anniversary cake with a bouquet of gumpaste flowers in fall colors.


And the year before that I made my sister a double hazelnut bundt cake for her birthday. It was covered in orange marzipan to look like a pumpkin.

More Leelalicious Recipes:

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12 Responses to Easy Pumpkin Cake

  1. Jacquee says:

    Mmmmm, pumpkin. Wish I could ‘fake Fall’, instead we are already dealing with very cool nights and mornings. :(. Love your cakelets!!

  2. How exciting it must be to live in Bali! And seriously, pumpkin anywhere instantly brings fall feelings to mind – great way to fake it!

  3. amy says:

    This looks + sounds just delicious! My favorite fall recipe is definitely something that involves pumpkin. =)

  4. Oh wow. It looks so moist! Moist pumpkin cake. Those you-know-whos can suck it. :D I read your about me page and the lack of ovens in SE Asia must be terrible for you. I’m happy you have access to one now! And sorry that you have to fake fall. That can’t be fun!

    • Regina says:

      Oh Erin, its soo moist! Totally unlike certain other people’s cakes ;) Having no oven can be tough at times, but the trade-off is usually not ao bad either. I am learning to make the best of every place we go.

  5. […] I made this easy pumpkin cake last fall while we were on Bali, I had to make my own pumpkin puree from scratch. It’s not […]

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