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Everything you need to make a pumpkin spice cake

From the 5 recipes for comfort food to make this week series
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Everything you need to make a pumpkin spice cake

A trend survey by the spice brand Spice Islands found that two-thirds of Americans consume one to three pumpkin spice products a week during the fall.

All the ingredients for a pumpkin spice cake recipe

The transition from summer to fall means a few changes: leaves coloring, the weather cooling and every coffee shop putting their best pumpkin spice foot forward. Of course, the American craze for pumpkin spice flavor has gone way past lattes. From Oreos to cocktails, it seems that no dish is safe from this seasonal flavor obsession. 

So why not embrace the trend and bring pumpkin spice flavor to your own home baking projects? A moist and sweet pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese icing is a perfect treat for fall. Here’s what you need to bake your own. 

Equipment for pumpkin spice cake recipe

Mixing tools

The easiest way to make any cake is with an electric stand mixer. KitchenAid is known for their professional-quality mixers available for home cooks, which is why it’s always won our Best of the Best designation. Use the paddle attachment to blend your cake batter into a smooth and uniform consistency. 

If you don’t have a stand mixer, the next best thing is a handheld electric mixer. KitchenAid also makes a great hand mixer at a more affordable price than the standing version. 

Finally, if electric mixing is not your thing, you'll still be able to blend the pumpkin spice cake batter with a good old-fashioned whisk and mixing bowl. The best whisk is sturdy and has a rounded bottom to get the sides of the bowl. OXO makes a stainless steel whisk that’s comfortable to hold. 

Mixing bowl

You’ll need two mixing bowls for this cake: one for the wet ingredients and a second for the dry ingredients. Bigger is always better for baking, as it limits overflow and splashing when you mix. This set of stackable stainless-steel mixing bowls has the exact bowl sizes you need for cake-making. Use the largest bowl for the wet ingredients and the second largest to sift together your dry ingredients. This set is also easy to store as it stacks together neatly. 

Baking pan

What shape and size do you want your pumpkin spice cake to be? If you love a literal dessert, this 3D pumpkin mold makes a stunning and centerpiece-worthy life-size pumpkin. 

This intricate pumpkin loaf pan from Nordic Ware also turns out a beautiful cake you won’t want to cover with frosting. 

Of course, you can also keep things simple and bake your pumpkin spice cake in a classic round pan or square baking dish. These YLYL springform pans make it easy to cleanly remove your cake for decorating. For a neat sheet cake, Wilton makes an all-purpose 10-inch aluminum pan that you can use for everything from lasagna to brownies. 

Cooking spray

There’s nothing worse than spending the time to make your own cake, only to have it stick in the pan or fall apart when you try to remove it. Do yourself a favor and thoroughly grease your cake pan, no matter the size or shape, with nonstick cooking spray. Pam No-Stick Cooking Spray is a tried-and-true baker’s friend. 

If you’re using a square or rectangle pan, give yourself the extra protection of parchment paper, too. Overlay two long pieces of parchment paper in the cake pan with some hanging over the sides. When your cake is done, use the parchment overhang to lift the cake straight out of the pan. 

Cooling rack

It’s very important to let your cake cool fully before trying to frost it. Otherwise, your frosting will melt and fall right off of the cake. The best way to quickly cool your cake is on a wire cooling rack, like this high-quality one from Hiware. The feet on the bottom of the rack elevate the cake for airflow on all sides. This also prevents the bottom of your bake from getting soggy with moisture. 

Decorating tools

The easiest way to frost your cake is with an offset spatula. This set of three spatulas gives you options for smoothing frosting into small crevices or over large areas. You can make a classic frosted pumpkin spice cake with nothing more than a smooth layer of frosting, or take things up a level with a pastry piping set. This 32-piece set from Kootek has piping tips in every shape you could need, plus two reusable pastry bags. 

If you want to add more color to your cake than white cream cheese frosting offers, you can create your own color palette with these professional-grade food colors

Pumpkin spice cake ingredients

Once you have your essential baking tools, here are the ingredients to bring your pumpkin spice cake to life. 

Dry ingredients

  • All-purpose flour: Professional bakers swear by the quality and consistency of King Arthur Flour
  • Leaveners: Chemical leaveners create steam inside your cake that help it rise in the oven. The double-duty of baking powder and baking soda leavens your cake. 
  • Spices: The signature pumpkin spice flavor comes from a combination of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. You can also buy pre-mixed pumpkin pie spice from McCormick.
  • Salt: Use kosher salt for the right amount of salinity in your bake. 


Wet ingredients

  • Vegetable oil: Use a mild-flavored cooking oil for your cake, like organic canola oil. Stronger oils like olive oil, for example, will overpower the sweet pumpkin spice flavors.
  • Eggs: These add fat to tenderize the cake, as well as moisture, which turns to steam in the oven for another leavening ingredient. 
  • Brown sugar: Use light brown sugar for just the right amount of caramel flavor. 
  • Pumpkin puree: Use pure organic pumpkin puree for the boldest pumpkin flavor and to add extra moisture to your cake. 
  • Vanilla extract: This is an essential ingredient in most cakes for a touch of warming flavor to balance out the sweetness. Make sure to use pure vanilla extract, not imitation.


Cream cheese frosting ingredients

  • Cream cheese: Use softened cream cheese for easy blending and a light and fluffy texture. 
  • Butter: Likewise, use softened unsalted butter for easy mixing. 
  • Powdered sugar: Using confectioner’s sugar instead of granulated sugar is the key to the smoothest, lightest frosting. 
  • Salt: You’ll want a dash of kosher salt to enhance the sweet vanilla flavor in your frosting. 
  • Vanilla extract: You could also use pure almond extract if you prefer a nutty flavor with pumpkin. 
     

Lizzy Briskin is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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