Need a fun, delicious dessert for an upcoming fall event, or a sweet surprise for family and/or friends? This moist one-bowl pumpkin cake comes together in minutes, with no mixer needed. The fabulous salted caramel icing takes it to nirvana status!
If you enjoy a moist, tender-crumbed cake with all the warm, fragrant flavors of autumn, you will love this one-bowl pumpkin cake. And if you can stir it up quickly in one bowl and it has a fabulous salted caramel icing, let’s just say it’s probably the most perfect fall dessert you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting (and eating)!
I realized earlier this fall that, although I have a ton of pumpkin recipes on the blog (muffins, bread, soup, cupcakes, cookies, whoopie pies, granola bars, donuts, shortbread, even a pumpkin salad dressing), I’ve never posted a recipe for an easy, no-mixer, pumpkin cake. I knew that had to remedy this omission, so I’ve been working on this one-bowl pumpkin cake and I think you’re going to enjoy it as much as we (and all of our guests) have!
As the name implies, this One-Bowl Pumpkin Cake is made with just one bowl and no mixer. You’ll also need a whisk to stir everything together and a spatula to scrape the batter into the pan. To make it even simpler, I like to wash the bowl out while the cake bakes so I can make the icing in the same bowl, but that’s up to you.
If you have your pantry stocked with some canned pumpkin puree, you probably have everything else you need (butter, eggs, flour, brown and granulated sugar, vanilla, leavening agents and pumpkin pie spice) for this one-bowl pumpkin cake. If you don’t keep pumpkin pie spice on hand, it’s easy to make your own.
To make the icing super easy, I melt store-bought caramels with a few tablespoons of milk or half and half and incorporate that mixture into the powdered sugar icing. A sprinkle of flaky sea salt over the finished cake gives a delicious little “salty” crunch with each bite.
You’ll get lots of ooooohs and aaaaaahs with the first taste of this moist, tender-crumbed, One-Bowl Pumpkin Cake, so put this one on your “must make” list for fall. You won’t be disappointed!
Café Tips for making this One-Bowl Pumpkin Cake
- I use an 8-inch round baking pan with 2-inch high sides for this recipe. If you have an 8-inch pan with lower sides, it won’t be big enough for this recipe. Use a 9-inch round or square baking pan instead. The cake will be a bit larger in diameter and not as tall.
- I love these Oxo Good Grip Baking Pans. They have tall, 2-inch sides, a textured, nonstick finish and they clean up beautifully.
- Make sure to use pumpkin puree or pure pumpkin for this cake and not pumpkin pie filling. They are usually shelved right next to each other at the grocery store and have similar looking cans so it’s easy to make an error. Pumpkin puree, as the name indicates, is just pumpkin that’s been pureed. It’s used for pies and other baked goods, as well as soups and other savory dishes. Pumpkin pie filling contains sugar and spices and is a convenience product used to make pumpkin pie.
- For the salted caramel icing, I’ve used Kraft caramels, Werther’s soft caramels and fancy, gourmet caramels from Trader Joe’s, all with good results. With Kraft caramels, 3½ ounces is approximately 12 caramels. Other brands differ in weight so you may need to weigh them or make a good guestimate.
- Did you know that chrysanthemums are edible? Yep, they’re used in salads, stir-fries, tea and even wine! of course, you want mums that have not been treated with chemicals. Being familiar with the smell of these flowers though, I’m not sure that I’d really enjoy the flavor, but do I like knowing that I can safely decorate cakes and other desserts with these pretty and quintessentially fall flowers.
- For the icing, make sure your butter is nice and soft. I either leave it out overnight to soften or soften it in the microwave. To soften butter in the microwave, use 10% power for 1 to 3 minutes. Every microwave is different so the amount of time will depend on the power of your particular microwave.
- You may not need all of the icing. If you don’t use it all, the icing will freeze nicely for a future use.
- This One-Bowl Pumpkin Cake calls for a sprinkle of flaky sea salt. I really like Maldon flaky sea salt. Maldon is what’s called a finishing salt. It’s not to be used as an everyday seasoning but rather as a gourmet finishing touch. Maldon is more expensive than regular salt or kosher salt but a box will last a long time.
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear other’s results and ideas for variations.
- 8 tablespoons butter melted and cooled for 5 minutes
- ¾ cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 ⅓ cups pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup half and half or milk
- 3 ½ ounces store-bought caramels (Kraft or Werthers) I use 12 Kraft caramels
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons butter very soft
- 2 ¼ cups confectioners' sugar
Preheat oven to 325˚F. Spray an 8-inch round cake pan with 2-inch sides. (If your 8-inch cake pan does not have 2-inch sides, use a 9-inch pan.) Line the pan with a round of parchment paper.
- Add both sugars to the cooled melted butter and whisk to combine. Add eggs, pumpkin puree and vanilla, whisk again until well combined.
- Sprinkle the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder and salt over the top of the wet ingredients. Whisk everything together until well combined and no lumps remain.
- Transfer the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top to level the surface. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. (Cover the top with foil during the last 10 minutes if it seems to be browning too much.)
- Cool the cake for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely before icing.
- Combine half and half, unwrapped caramels and brown sugar in a medium-size, microwave-safe bowl. Cook on high power for one minute. Remove from microwave and stir until smooth. If caramels are not completely melted, return to microwave for 15-second increments, stirring well in-between until completely melted and the mixture is nice and smooth.
Add vanilla and powdered sugar and soft butter and whisk well to combine. Continue whisking until the icing is smooth and spreadable. If it’s too thin add a bit more powdered sugar, if too thick and a teaspoon of half and half at a time until nice and spreadable.
Put a big dollop of frosting in the center of the cooled cake. Using an offset icing spatula, spread it to the edges and down the sides, adding more frosting to the top as you work your way around the cake. When the cake is completely iced, you can go back and add some swirls, if desired. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and enjoy!
See Café Tips above in post for more details instructions and tips.
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