Pumpkin Cake for Two

pumpkin cakeCould you eat an entire pie by yourself? The answer to that question is probably yes. And really, I’m not here to judge. But each year I bake both apple and pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving, and because apple is Mike’s favorite and my mom doesn’t eat much dairy (including the evaporated milk in my pumpkin pie recipe), part of my delicious pumpkin creation goes to waste. Not wanting such a result this year, I chose to bake a little pumpkin cake, perfect for just a few servings. The funny thing is that with the way I frosted it, this cake actually reminds me of a pie.

The original recipe for the cake comes from Carla at Homemade In The Kitchen, a fellow Pittsburgh baker who focuses on small-batch recipes, perfect for just one or two people. I paired her pumpkin cake with some caramel cinnamon buttercream frosting of my own, and I cannot wait to have it for dessert later today. Mike and my mom will enjoy the apple pie I baked yesterday, and Tucker, our new pup, will get some pumpkin puree for his dessert. Everyone wins, and nothing goes to waste. Happy Thanksgiving!


For the cake

  • 1/2 cup flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the frosting

  • 4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • About 1 1/2 tablespoons caramel sauce, to taste
  • Cinnamon to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 6-inch round cake tin and line the bottom with a parchment circle.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt; set aside. In another medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin, oil, sugars, egg, and vanilla. Gradually add the dry mixture to the pumpkin mixture, stirring to incorporate completely.

Pour into cake tin and bake for 22-27 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean; the original recipe said to bake for 22-25 minutes, but my cake needed a few more – everyone’s oven is different. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then invert on a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat butter on medium speed for 1 minute, then add powdered sugar and beat on low until all of the sugar is incorporated into the butter. Add vanilla and caramel and beat to combine, about 2-3 minutes. Add cinnamon to taste – truth be told, I didn’t measure this, but rather just sprinkled a few dashes into the mixture and tasted it to see when I’d reached my desired flavor. Frost the cake using an offset spatula; if desired, fit a piping bag with a leaf tip and pipe leaf shapes around the edge.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for about 2 days; pumpkin cake is very moist and can get soggy if kept longer. Makes one 6-inch cake, about four servings.