It’s pumpkin season once again which means it’s my favourite time of the year for seasonal baking. I adore a good hearty slice of cake as the cold wintery nights draw in, one which is packed full of aromatic ground spices, and this pumpkin traybake delivers on all fronts. A fluffy and tremendously flavoursome pumpkin sponge is topped with a layer of silky-smooth cream cheese frosting, creating the perfect autumnal desserts for those Hyggelig nights. Take a look at my recipe below for an incredibly easy and hassle-free pumpkin traybake!
Hokkaido pumpkin is perfect for baking with and especially perfect for gluten-free bakes. Gluten-free bakes often risk being too dry or crumbly, but adding fruit or vegetable purees such as pumpkin or beetroot, can bring back that missing moisture and create a beautifully soft and fluffy texture. Making your own pumpkin puree may be time consuming but it is very rewarding when you see the amount of delicious bakes you can get out of it. Take a look at my Pumpkin Cupcakes, my super simple Pumpkin Roll or my perfect Pumpkin Pie for more ideas of what to bake with pumpkin puree. Not forgetting, the whole pumpkin can actually be used so nothing goes to waste such as the seeds which can be roasted with salt for a healthy snack!
Traybakes, sheet cakes or snack cakes – whatever you prefer to call them, I truly love them! Why? Well, as with all of my recipes, this traybake is no different in that it’s made using standard pantry staples, comes together easily and is simple to bake. If you’re using a gluten-free plain flour blend such as that from Doves Farm (not an ad), baking this will truly be a piece of cake (mind the pun!). I love a good thick slice of cake and it pains me when people associate gluten-free baking with a dry, crumbly and flat piece of sad-looking cake. As you can see, with all of my cakes, I like a decent slice and that’s what you get with my recipes. Have a look at my simple coeliac-friendly recipe below.
What ingredients do you need?
Butter – I often use unsalted butter for my recipes but salted is okay too if you leave out the extra salt from the ingredients. Make sure the butter has been softened to room temperature before using!
Sugar – A mixture of white and brown sugars works best in this recipe
Eggs – Medium free-range eggs are best, be sure to use them at room temperature. Eggs add structure to the cake and act as a leavening agent to help the cake rise
Gluten-free flour – A gluten-free plain flour blend, or all-purpose flour such as Doves Farm Plain Flour will work wonders in this recipe
Pumpkin Puree*- Homemade or tinned puree is fine for this recipe. The most important thing is that any excess water has been removed either through the blotting or the straining method
Xanthan gum – Xanthan gum is essential for most gluten-free recipes and there are no exceptions here. Doves Farm is my preferred choice but you can use any. If your flour already contains Xanthan Gum, you can choose to leave out the extra 1/4 teaspoon
Cream cheese – Plain full-fat cream cheeses taste the best, be sure to remove any excess water beforehand as this could have an impact on the frosting
Baking powder – Any will do, just check that it is definitely gluten-free as not all baking powders are. Baking powder acts as a leavening agent which helps the cake to rise in the baking process
Mixed spices – For this recipe you can use your own mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, black pepper and ginger or a pumpkin pie spice mix, all spice mix or mixed ground spice, depending on what is available in your area
Icing sugar – Standard sifted icing sugar is essential for the cream cheese topping
What equipment do you need?
- 9 x 13 inch rectangular deep baking tray
- Baking paper
Tips & Tricks
Room temperature ingredients are essential for this recipe to work. Room temperature ingredients ensure that they can all be mixed together thoroughly. If you forget to take your eggs out of the fridge beforehand, place them in a bowl of lukewarm (not hot, you don’t want to cook them!) water 15 minutes prior to baking to bring them to room temperature more quickly.
Blotting or draining – It’s imperative to blot or drain the pumpkin puree beforehand so as to remove any excess water before baking. Too much water will make the cake soggy and wet and has the potential to ruin the whole thing. If you’re using a tin of pumpkin puree, you may not need to do this, but for freshly made puree, it’s a must. I tend to use a cheesecloth tea towel to squeeze out the excess water as much as possible. I would suggest weighing the pumpkin puree after draining to make sure that you have the correct amount as you may lose some during the draining process.
The toothpick test is a great way to check whether your cakes are done. As all ovens are calibrated differently, the baking times stated are always suggested as a rough guide. To check if the cake is done, insert a toothpick into the centre and if it comes out with no crumbs stuck to it, you can assume that the cake is baked through and ready to come out.
I use grams for weighing almost all of the ingredients in my recipes as it is what I am most used to when cooking and baking on a daily basis. I use measuring cups for simple ingredients such as spices or smaller amounts as it can be much easier to measure. I would recommend sticking to what the recipe suggests as there is no guarantee that converting into cup measurements or vice-versa will have the same outcome.
Pumpkin Traybake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 9×13 inch baking tray
For the pumpkin sponge
- 425 g pumpkin puree fresh or tinned
- 260 g gluten-free plain flour blend
- 4 medium eggs room temperature
- 150 g caster sugar
- 150 g brown sugar
- 250 ml olive oil
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp Xanthan Gum
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
For the cream cheese topping
- 250 g unsalted butter room temperature
- 500 g icing sugar
- 150 g cream cheese room temperature
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- orange food colouring optional
- green food colouring optional
- 1 tsp cinnamon optional
For the pumpkin sponge
- Preheat the oven to 180° C Fan and line a 9×13 inch baking tray with baking paper, leaving some hanging out over the edges so that the cake can be removed easily later on. Grease thoroughly with a greasing brush.
- Combine the flour, salt, spices, Xanthan Gum and baking powder in a bowl and whisk together.260 g gluten-free plain flour blend, 2 tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp Xanthan Gum, 2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1½ tsp ground ginger, ½ tsp ground nutmeg, ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, pumpkin puree, oil, brown sugar, caster sugar and vanilla extract. Whisk until completely combined.425 g pumpkin puree, 150 g caster sugar, 150 g brown sugar, 250 ml olive oil, ½ tsp vanilla extract, 4 medium eggs
- Create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, and then pour in the wet mixture. Fold in until no pockets of flour remain.
- Transfer the mixture to the baking tray and level off with an offset spatula.
- Bake on the middle shelf for around 30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. (See notes)
- Once baked through, allow to cool completely inside the baking tray before removing carefully.
For the cream cheese topping
- Whisk the butter in a stand-mixer on the highest setting until lighter in colour and fluffy in texture.250 g unsalted butter
- Add the cream cheese, vanilla and icing sugar in batches and whisk thoroughly until completely combined.500 g icing sugar, 150 g cream cheese, ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- If desired, set aside three separate small amounts of frosting for the pumpkins, leaves and stalks. Add a few drops of orange and green food colouring to two of them, and a teaspoon of cinnamon to the other to create the three different colours. Set aside.orange food colouring, green food colouring, 1 tsp cinnamon
- Spread the remaining cream cheese frosting over the cooled pumpkin sponge with an offset spatula.
- Pipe the buttercream pumpkins onto the cake if desired.