The secret to “Easy”
It’s pumpkin. It’s coffee. It’s cake. It’s EASY!!! Really easy. The secret ingredient is a box of spice cake mix. Using a cake mix eliminates a whole bunch of ingredients and saves a lot of time. The can of pumpkin puree is not really a secret ingredient, as obviously, there’s pumpkin in a pumpkin cake.
No eggs or oil needed!
However, the pumpkin eliminates the need to add eggs and oil to the cake mix. How cool is that? The same is true with applesauce. Both are healthy and a low-calorie substitute for oil and eggs in many baked goods. One quick note about the pumpkin, make sure that it’s pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling. They are NOT interchangeable.
The instant espresso powder provides the delicious coffee flavor. Regular instant coffee will work too, but expresso adds depth of flavor in both the cake and the frosting. I also sprinkle a little over the top of the frosting for a little extra pop. The same principle holds true for the unsweetened cocoa powder. Instant chocolate milk or hot chocolate mix can substitute for the cocoa powder, but the flavor won’t be as rich.
This cake looks pretty when baked in a Bundt cake pan, especially if you serve it as dessert. However, it can be baked in a 9×15 baking pan, which may not look as impressive but will be much easier to serve if it’s going to a pot-luck or gathering.
Baking spray vs Cooking spray
There’s very little prep work necessary. The cream cheese for the frosting needs softening, so get it set out on the counter. The cake pan, regardless of type, needs a dose of non-stick baking spray. I recommend using baking spray over regular non-stick spray (although it will work – just not quite as well). Baking spray contains flour which mimics the traditional practice of greasing and flouring. If you don’t have baking spray, no biggie. It’s not critical.
The other thing needing prep is mixing two tablespoons of the instant espresso/coffee with a tablespoon of hot water.
Mixing the batter
Mix up the cake mix and pumpkin with an electric mixer (I use my handheld). Pour half the batter into another bowl. In one bowl, add the pumpkin spice, and in the other, add the cocoa and espresso mixture.
If using a bundt pan, spoon in half the pumpkin batter. Spoon in the coffee/chocolate better and top with the remaining pumpkin batter. If using a 9×13 pan, scoop alternating colors in the bottom of the pan, covering the entire pan. Bake in a pre-heated oven for between 30-35 minutes, depending on the pan. Use the directions on the cake mix box as a guide.
Hack: testing for doneness
The traditional doneness test for cake is to insert a toothpick or wooden skewer; the cake is ready if it comes out clean. If there is batter or gumminess on the toothpick, it needs to bake longer. An easy test for doneness is to lightly press on the middle of the cake; it should feel springy and pillowy. Also, look at the edges of the pan. The sides of the cake will just start to pull away from the pan. The outer edges will look dry, and you’ll see a gap forming between the edge of the cake and the side of the pan.
Cream Cheese frosting
While the cake is baking, it’s time to make the frosting. Beat the softened cream cheese until fluffy with an electric mixer and gradually add in the powdered sugar. When smooth, add the vanilla and two teaspoons instant espresso/coffee powder (dry) and mix. Slowly pour in half & half until the frosting is thoroughly combined and pourable.
Make sure the cake is completely cool before frosting. You can artistically pour the frosting on a bundt cake if you want. I like frosting, lots of frosting – so I completely covered my cake (plus it’s a lot easier and no stress.) For a 9×13, just pour all the frosting over the cake. To add a little interest, lightly dust the frosted cake with pumpkin pie spice and instant coffee granules. Enjoy!
Easy Frosted Pumpkin Spice Latte CakeCourse: DessertCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
If a pumpkin spice latte could be a cake, this would be it! Flavors of expresso, pumpkin spice and cocoa elevate a boxed Spice Cake mix. No eggs or oil needed in this easy and delicious cake recipe with a cream cheese frosting.
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons instant espresso coffee powder – divided
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 15oz can of pumpkin (puree NOT pumpkin pie filling)
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
8-ounce package cream cheese – softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup half & half
1 teaspoon vanilla
- Prep: Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a bundt pan or 9×13 baking pan with nonstick baking spray. Set out cream cheese to warm to room temp.
- In a small bowl combine espresso coffee powder and 1 tablespoon hot water; stir until dissolved. In a large bowl combine cake mix, and pumpkin beat until combined. Transfer half of the batter to a medium bowl and stir in the espresso mixture and cocoa powder. Stir in the pumpkin pie spice into the bowl with the remaining cake mixture. Add the batter to the prepared cake pan in alternating scoops or layers (bundt pan), gently spreading out the batter. Bake 35 minutes (bundt pan) or until a wooden skewer/toothpick comes out clean.
- While cake bakes use a mixer to beat the cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy, about a minute. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the powdered sugar one cup at a time until smooth. Add in the vanilla, instant espresso powder and mix until combined. Add the cream into the frosting and mix until completely combined and pourable.
- Cool cake. For Bundt cake: Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes and then remove cake from pan to continue to cool completely. If using a 9X13, cool on a wire rack. When the cake is completely cooled, pour and spread the frosting over the top of the cooled cake. If desired, dust the frosted cake with pumpkin pie spice and instant coffee granules. Enjoy!
- Baking Spray: Baking spray has flour added to it – making it superior for baking, regular non-stick spray can also be used
- Cake Pan: Check the baking time on the box mix to accurate gage based on the type of pan
- Cocoa Powder: Hot chocolate/hot cocoa/chocolate milk mix can be substituted for the cocoa powder, however the chocolate flavor will be less prominent.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice: Cinnamon can be substituted
- Half & Half: 1 cup of heavy cream can be substituted