Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Ermine Buttercream

Helloooo! It has been so long since I have posted, but just as Fall is overtaking and changing the trees, so thankfully,  my life has settled into a season where I can spend more time sharing and interacting with all of you.  I really have missed it! To celebrate changes in the air, here is a delicious Pumpkin Spice Cake.a-pumpkin-cut-web

A sweet reader, Inna, asked the other day if the Carrot Cake found on the blog could be converted to Pumpkin Cake. I wasn’t sure if it would translate exactly so I told her I would experiment and come up with a Pumpkin Cake that I knew would work.a-pumpkin-bite-web

This cake is moist and well spiced and just sweet enough to pair perfectly with this unique variation of Cream Cheese Buttercream.a-pumpkin-center

The moistness comes from oil, brown sugar, pumpkin puree, sour cream and whole milk which marry together for a delicious Autumnal taste.a-pumpkin-eaten-web

The Ermine buttercream utilizes a portion of cream cheese in place of the usual milk and cream. If you have not tasted Ermine buttercreams they are silky smooth because they do not use powdered sugar and they are light and fluffy, almost akin to whipped cream. The high volume of butter the frosting contains allows it to firm up when chilled and a skilled decorator could cover it with fondant if you worked quickly while the cake was cold.a-pumpkin-cupcakes-web

Inna, I hope this cake is all you hoped for! And to everyone, put on a sweater, make a cup of coffee and enjoy a big slice of this cake to really make the most of Fall! FYI, this recipe works great as cupcakes too!

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Ermine Buttercream


  • 7 ounces (200 grams) granulated sugar-1 cup
  • 8 ounces (225 grams) brown sugar-1 cup
  • 6 ounces in weight (170 grams) vegetable oil 13 tablespoons
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces (340 grams) all-purpose flour or pastry flour-2 1/3 cups
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 ounces in weight (115 grams) sour cream-½ cup
  • 2 ounces in weight (60 grams) whole milk-¼ cup
  • 1 ½ cups pumpkin puree (about one 15 ounce can)
  • For the Cream Cheese Ermine Buttercream:
  • 6 Tablespoons (90 milliliters or 53 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened and whisked smooth- 1 cup
  • 8 ounces in weight whole milk (230 grams)- 1 cup
  • 16 ounces (455 grams) unsalted butter, softened-2 cups (4 sticks)
  • 14 ounces (400 grams) sugar-2 cups
  • 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) vanilla extract


    For the Pumpkin Spice Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (177 C). Spray three 8-inch round cake pans with Baker’s Joy or grease and flour.
  2. Beat sugars and oil for 2 minutes on medium-high speed of mixer. Add eggs one at a time and beat until well combined. Stir in vanilla.
  3. Whisk dry ingredients to combine. Add to mixer and turn mixer on low, mix to moisten dry ingredients.
  4. Whisk together sour cream, milk and pumpkin puree and add to mixer in two batches. Stir well after each addition. Mix for 30 seconds on medium after second addition to blend thoroughly.
  5. Pour into prepared pans and bake for about 25-30 minutes until the cake tests just clean with a toothpick. Cool 10 minutes in pan and then turn out to a cooling rack. Cool completely if using immediately, or wrap in two layers of plastic wrap if using later. Frost the cooled cake with Cream Cheese Ermine Buttercream or your buttercream of choice.
  6. For the Buttercream:
  7. Place the flour in a 4 cup or larger microwave-safe container and slowly whisk in the milk and cream. Whisk some of the milk mix into the cream cheese and then add the cream cheese mix to the rest of the milk mixture. Make sure the mixture is smooth and lump free (an immersion blender can help with this).
  8. Cook the mixture in the microwave in 30 second increments stirring after each interval until the mixture is thick enough to pile on itself without settling back in .
  9. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for 10 minutes or until it is tepid or until room temperature (too hot equals melted buttercream!). Whisk occasionally or cover with wax paper to prevent a skin from forming.
  10. Meanwhile, beat the butter on medium in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment for 2 minutes until smooth and light. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time until it is all incorporated.
  11. Add the cooled cream cheese-milk mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time to the butter mixture. When it is all added, beat in the vanilla and mix for 30 seconds or until fluffy. Yum!

Let me know what you think of the buttercream. I’m truly enamored!

Best baking wishes


77 thoughts on “Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Ermine Buttercream”

  1. Omg. Thank you so much Summer. I was looking for a pumpkin cake recipe and I received this today. Can’t wait to make this cake.
    BTW, do you know a good passionfruit cake recipe? Please let me know, it’s for a wedding.
    Thank again

    1. Perfect timing!
      I will look into an easy way to make a passion fruit cake with products that aren’t difficult or expensive to locate. Are you interested in the cake itself being passion fruit or the filling etc.?

        1. I think vanilla bean, coconut or orange would be lovely! I have been collecting passion fruit products but haven’t been able to get them into cake yet. I will let you know when I get to it!

  2. Welcome back Summer…we missed you and cant wait for more delicious recipes. PS. No pressure but I’m looking for the best gluten free cake or pancake recipe out there and if anyone can you can do it. Thank you so much Summer. 🙂 🙂 Cant wait for more goodies.

  3. I’m so glad you’re back – in Australia i’ts Spring but I’ll be making this tomorrow anyway – I’ve missed your cakes – all of them have been shared far and wide at functions on the other side of the world. Looking forward to more posts – welcome back.

    1. Hi Summer, I made this with fresh pumpkin, and used a gingerbread spice mix, from a local spice shop, in the cake and buttercream and topped with gingerbread popcorn (from our local farmers market) – also reduced by 2/3 to make into two layers and it was so wonderful. I’d add a photo if I could work out how to do that(?). Welcome back from your loyal fans all over the world!

      1. That sounds amazing! If you email me the picture or send a url I think I can add it in a response. I will look into the details. I haven’t tried that before 😉

  4. Yes, Spring in Australia but I have a beautiful pumpkin waiting to be used and this cake is perfect. I think I will turn it into cupcakes. Thank you Summer, great to have you back!

  5. You’re back! I have missed your posts! . . . . and I can’t believe it — this is just what I needed! I do have my own pumpkin recipe that is fairly awesome; however, I was just thinking today that I wish I could do an Ermine cream cheese frosting. I’ve added cream cheese to Ermine in the past after it was made and all it did was make it soupy (although tasty). I never thought of cooking the cream cheese with the flour mixture! And all of this is important today because #1) I have 17, 6″ round cakes to make for wedding centerpieces for a wedding tomorrow and three of the flavors are pumpkin, apple caramel, and carrot. And #2) I just woke up early to get all my flour mixture made for the frosting . . . and then here is your recipe! My only wish is that the cooking/mixing method was slightly different. There’s no way I’m adding sugar a tablespoon at a time for 17 cakes! lol. I will adjust and see what works out — if you have any suggestions . . . 😉

    Oh, and I have been a subscriber for about the last two years. In that time, I have been asked to teach cake baking at our local college. I want you to know that I introduce all the students to your page (because your recipes are awesome) and I have incorporated a few of the recipes in with our textbook. Thanks for all your information!

    1. Hi Valerie! I’m so glad I stayed up late so you have something fun to try! And I wanted to respond before I hopped in the shower since you are already hard at work. One reader, June, said she adds her sugar to her milk mixture. I think adding some sugar to the butter is important to get the butter ultra fluffy but maybe you could do half and half to save time? Plus, I added my sugar faster than recommended and then just beat it longer to dissolve stubborn crystals. I hope this helps! Let me know it goes. 🙂

      1. Thanks for the quick reply! Yes, I have tried out the recipe already. First, let me back track. I am a big Ermine frosting user so I have tried I think all the different ways to make it (mmilostly because of those stubborn little bits of flour that don’t dissolve properly – they drive me crazy! You’re right about cooking the sugar – doesn’t work for me. I don’t know that it’s about fluffiness, but it does compromise the structure of the frosting and it’s just too soft for my use. I recently tried cooking 1/3 the amount of sugar with the milk/flour and that worked out well — it kept the flour from balling up (pretty much) and the other 2/3 got whipped up with the cooled mixture so the consistency was where I like it. Here’s the other thing — I just mix it all up together (who has time for all those other steps? lol) I throw it all in the mixer together: flour paste, butter, sugar, and flavorings. Let it whip about 16-18 minutes on medium high with a couple of scrape downs in between and it comes out great. Oh, so back to your recipe (I apologize for the long reply!). I threw it all in a blender: milk, flour, cream cheese and a pinch of salt and blended until smooth, cooked it on the stove until mash potato consistency (about five minutes). After it cooled I threw it all in the mixer together and it turned out just fine! Now I will go on to recipe x 4 and see how that works. Actually, I noticed also that the sugar dissolved faster than normal — must be the cream cheese.
        Thanks so much!

  6. Well this sounds amazing! So good to hear from you!!! I know a lot of us have missed you! This looks and sounds divine! I will try it this Fall for sure! Thank you so much! Hugs!

  7. I am so excited to see your post!!!!! I am glad you are back! I woke up to this post in my email and I couldn’t believe it. Pumpkin it is, thanks.

  8. I’m a hobby cake decorator and I make Ermine/cooked flour icing all the time. It’s my go to icing. Much less fuss than SMBC. I add my sugar to my milk/flour mixture before heating. This way you save a step, and ensure complete absorption of your sugar. And no ensuing grittiness in your icing from incorporating your sugar with the butter. If I’m going to use this icing to cover a cake, or pipe, I add 1 cup of icing sugar and a tablespoon of meringue powder. This helps stabilize the icing and allow it to crust.

    1. Thanks June! Valerie mentioned adding part of the sugar to the milk (to smooth out the mixture and save time) and adding some later to the butter to maintain consistency and texture. Sometimes I add 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum to maintain the emulsion if I don’t plan to use it immediately too! Glad you stopped by!

  9. Good to see you back! thanks for this recipe , my question is can i make cupcakes from this recipe or do i need to change something.
    Please let me know i have to make cupcakes for the wedding.


  10. So glad you’re back!!! A few days ago I thought about writing you to tell you that I really miss your posts and that your blog is still my favorite for cake recipes! Keep the posts coming! (and a book too, please!!)

    1. Thank you Iris! I have an ever-growing list of recipe ideas to try so I’m anxious to share them and dialog with you all about them. I really do love the cake community!

  11. So glad to see you back. I look forward to giving this one a try. I have never done Ermine frosting before. Here’s to the start of fall!

  12. Missed your recipes! Now that I’m back in CA, I don’t fee the change of season very much. We are going into our hot fire season. But people start a different fall diet, and this is perfect!

    I’m concerned about the word “ermine.” It’s an ingredient in products that contain bug extract I’m s vegetarian

    Welcome back

    1. Yes, “ermine”, buggy or not, doesn’t evoke a sense of deliciousness. We need to come up with another name.

      And if only fire season meant sitting by a warm cozy fireplace. I grew up in southern Oregon where it’s very dry with a family of many forest fire fighters so I know what you mean. At least, pumpkin makes it feel like the right season!

  13. OMG Summer!!! This is exactly what I was looking for! Thank you sooooo much!! You made my day, or should I say my week?? haha I’ll let you know the outcome soon Thanks again!!!!

  14. The first step of the incing instructions say “slowly whisk in the milk and cream”, but there is no cream listed in the ingredient list. Is cream an ingredient?

    1. Sorry! No cream is in the recipe; that ingredient tried to sneak itself in there unauthorized. I will get that changed right away. 🙂

  15. Yay! I just went to check my favorite place for reliably delicious cake recipes on a whim. I’m making a wedding cake in a couple of weeks and wanted to finalize the pumpkin spice cake recipe I’m using for one of the tiers. Now I have a new one to consider. Do you think this will hold up to being stacked and tiered? I’ll try to test the recipe soon.

  16. Hi Summer. So great to see you back on here!
    This recipe came at a great time as I was able to bake it for my baby boy’s 1st birthday party last week, and it fitted in perfectly with the Autumn (Fall) themed Teddy Bear cake I made (photo on Little Hill Cakes Facebook / Instagram page if you’re interested in seeing it).
    Pumpkin purée wasn’t that easy to find in the UK (Waitrose have it for anyone in the UK reading!) but I think this has to be my new favourite cake – everyone loved the flavour, including my husband who reckons he doesn’t like pumpkin!
    I covered the cake in white chocolate ganache and then fondant, and as it was pretty tall I kept it at room temperature. This meant the buttercream, as it’s similar to whipped cream, was very soft which made it hard to cut neat slices as it all squished out as it was cut! (It tasted great though!) I think if I make it again and covered it in fondant I would make your cream cheese SMBC from your carrot cake recipe to go with it so that it was more sturdy.
    The only issue I had with the cake was that the layers compacted just like the pictures in your ‘size matters’ post. I baked three 8″ layers all at the same time and they came out barely an inch tall (looks like in your photos you did three 6″ layers?). All three layers compacted at the bottom, and I don’t understand why as the cake was quite shallow (nothing to do with covering it in fondant as the top layer looks compacted at the top as I put it on upside down!). I have the same problem when I use your Sour Cream and Vanilla Bean recipe – it always seems to compact a bit at the bottom of the layer. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong (I follow the recipes really carefully and use the exact amounts), but any advice would be greatly appreciated!!
    Thanks, Becky

    1. Hi Becky! I’m glad you were able to hunt down the pumpkin for this recipe and glad it was a hit with the people you served it to.
      The compacting is a bit of a mystery. I do know what you are talking about though. It seems like it’s a bit of a structural issue, like it’s not holding up under the weight. It could be a difference in ingredient types that is causing the changed result. I would start by adding 1/4 cup flour (1 ounce or 30 grams) and see if that adds enough structure to bear up the cake. You could also try reducing the oven temperature or reducing leavening but I would start by adding flour. Let me know if this helps if you give it a go! Hugs!

      1. Thanks for the advice Summer! I’m going to bake it again next week for a friend’s daughter’s birthday, so will try increasing the flour and let you know if that fixes it!

  17. Welcome Back! I was quite worried that something had happened! hope things are going well for you and the family.

    Will DEF give this Ermine BC a go! how decadent! Darn where’s that string of pearls when you need them!

    Regards, Eva

  18. This is so so yummy!!! I did a twist and did a cinnamon whipped filling and brown buttercream. It was a hit!!!!! I was wondering if you think I did sweet potato instead of pumkin that I could be a sweet potato cake with this recipe? Thank you summer for another amazing cake!!!

    1. That sounds wonderful! I think sweet potato would work great. I love sweet potato cake. I’m so happy this worked well for you!

  19. Hi! I am looking for an amazing peanut butter cake recipe that can also be made into cupcakes. Could I substitute peanut butter for the pumpkin puree and leave out the spices to make peanut butter cake/cupcakes? If so, would I need to adjust any fats/oils? And by how much if I’d need to adjust? Thank you so much for all your amazing and wonderful recipes! We have missed you on here!

    1. Hi Michelle,
      Peanut butter cake has been on my to-post list forever! Sadly, I don’t believe this will be a good cake for a direct swap. With peanut butter you get way more fat and way less liquid which could come out messy. So sorry!

  20. Hello Summer.
    The pumpkin cake is a winner ! I have tried it on mini cupcakes (baked 15 minutes) and there where absolutely delicious. I topped them with a rich dark chocolate ganache. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful recipe ! xx

  21. Hello Summer! I was wondering if you could sub the pumpkin with peanut butter and omit the spices to make a peanut butter cake? I love your recipes! This is my go to website!

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Michelle! I think that the substitute is worth a try, but the composition of peanut butter and pumpkin puree is very different. Pumpkin has far more water and much less fat. If you substitute peanut butter, you may want to consider cutting the recipe fat by 1/4 and doubling the milk. This should give you a more similar conversion of the cake. Thank you for your sweet comments!

    1. Oh no! I’m sorry you had troubles. I used regular granulated sugar. Your sugar may have had granules too large to dissolve; sometimes they vary by brand and/or region. You can aid dissolution by using superfine sugar (a.k.a. baker’s sugar) or blending regular sugar in a food processor, coffee/spice grinder or blender to reduce the size of the granules.

  22. I’m so excited for your microwave ermine cream cheese frosting! I was wondering if there is a way to make ermine frosting using your method without the cream cheese too? I love regular ermine frosting and I’d be thrilled to have an option for making that without the stovetop as well. Thank you!

  23. Thanks Summer for this recipe. So glad I found your site.
    Are we gonna have new recipes from you soon? I tried your sugar cookie recipe and it really is the best sugar cookie. A question I would have loved to ask before trying was if I should still use the wondra if am using bleached all purpose flour.
    Thanks again.

    1. Hi Bella! I’m so glad you enjoyed the sugar cookies. I recently made them for my daughter’s birthday and couldn’t stop eating them. To the flour question, wondra is not necessary, but it’s nice to have some form of lower-protein, higher-starch flour in the mix to keep the cookies from spreading and losing their shape. You could use cake or pastry flour, or you could use all bleached, all-purpose flour and sub in one tablespoon of cornstarch for a tablespoon of flour. If you’re not worried about a little extra spread, the bleached all-purpose is fine on its own. 🙂

      1. Thank you for your response. What type of AP flour did you use in the recipe? Was it unbleached and wondra? So if I don’t have wondra, can I use cake flour for equal substitution as in the recipe? Thank you for clarifying.

  24. Hi Summer! I know it’s a long shot that you’ll see this comment after all these years but I thought I’d give it a try. I LOVE your blog and use many of your recipes in my regular rotation. But for some reason, this frosting recipe is the only one I consistently can’t get to work. I’ve made it three or four times, and it’s delicious but always broken. I’ve stopped using the microwave and use the stovetop for more temperature control, I make sure to cook it until it piles on top of itself and I chill the flour mixture thoroughly before I begin to assemble the buttercream. These are all things that helped my other ermine frostings achieve correct consistency. (I used to get weird globules in the final product, or it would be too runny, etc). But this one always breaks. It’s too good a recipe to give up on! Any advice or thoughts? Should I cook the sugar with the flour? Or let it dissolve longer in the whipped butter before I add the flour mixture? Switch to icing sugar? I live in the US and use standard granulated sugar, and unsalted butter from Costco. I am a pretty experienced baker and I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong here. Thanks so much!

    1. Gosh Samantha, So sorry that I missed this before! My only guess is that there is too much fat in the mix. When ganache breaks, it’s because there is not enough liquid for the emulsification to work. You could try using a lower-fat milk to see if that helps. Sometimes the excess of fat gets too chummy and they group together in their hydrophobicity and ruin everything. Please let me know if you try this, or if I can help troubleshoot in another way!

    2. Samantha, my name is Lily & I made this Cream Cheese Ermine Icing as I needed a firmer icing for another cake I had made.
      What I did was mixed flour, & I added 1 1/2 Tbsp Corn starch, sugar, milk & cream cheese & cooked all of it until it was firm enough to hold up & not meld into itself. Then I cooled it, & chilled it until it was cold, before adding it to the creamed butter, & also I added another 3 ozs of softened cream cheese into the butter, before adding the chilled milk mixture. I also added about 1 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice with 1/2 tsp of fine salt.
      It turned out absolutely divine & smooth. I wish I could post a photo of how it turned out. All the best. Btw, thank you Summer for sharing all your recipes. The icing recipe is an awesome recipe. Sorry for tweaking it.

      1. Hi Lily! I am so glad you had success with this buttercream recipe. And as always, I am happy when people tweak my recipes. I hope for readers to take something away from my recipes or techniques, but recipes are always best when you make them your own!

  25. Hi! How well does this buttercream hold up in the layers at room temperature? Will it bulge? I’ve made it, and it’s wonderful! It even kept it’s shape at 84°F! But I haven’t layered with it yet. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

    1. Hi Gabbsey! This recipe will layer well if it is kept at a moderate room temperature. If you can keep it mid 70s or below without too many or too large of layers you should be fine. If your ambient temperatures will be 80 F or more, I would recommend keeping the cake chilled or in a cool space as long as possible. 🙂

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