Pumpkin Cake with Maple Frosting and Apple Cider Caramel



It’s just around the corner. As in, it’s four days away. Could you pardon me for a moment?


Um, thank you. I kind of needed to get that out of my system. I wait from February fifteenth (there’s something so romantic about snow on Valentine’s Day) to -oh, say- September twenty first of every year to get to fall. I love pumpkins and apples and squash and brightly coloured leaves and crisp air and apple crisps and oh my gosh… I just love everything about it.

I love drizzly, cold days and grey skies. I love driving down the road and seeing all the pumpkins for sale. I am passionately insane over winter squash. Butternut squash makes me swoon. Pumpkin. Pumpkin makes me flip my lid. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin custard, little bitty pumpkins stuffed with rice and sausage, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin soup. I’m like the Benjamin Buford Blue (a.k.a.the Bubba in Bubba Gump) of pumpkin.

I could eat pumpkin in just about any form, but my favourite is dessert. There’s something about pumpkin desserts that bridge that savoury/sweet line with such ease. It’s a vegetable so it almost feels like desserts made from it are health food. Hoo-yeah.And this cake I’m about to show you today… It has a vegetable and a fruit. That’s so healthy it’s almost disgusting.

It’s everything autumn; super moist pumpkin spice cake with a maple sugar glaze and apple cider caramel. Rawrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Just look at this.


Can you guess how long that cake lasted at our house? I can’t give you an exact time, but I can tell you it was less than twelve hours and probably less than eight. Time is a little fuzzy. We were kind of on a bit of a pumpkin high…

There’s a bonus -as if the cake wasn’t good enough by itself- the apple cider caramel portion of the recipe makes more than enough for the cake. In other words, you have some apple cider caramel leftover. In other other words, EXTRA CARAMEL for more cakes later or for drizzling on oatmeal or stirring into coffee or tea or hot cider or over ice cream or just plain on a spoon.

Oh gosh, I so love fall.

Pumpkin Cake with Maple Frosting and Apple Cider Caramel
Super moist pumpkin spice cake -redolent with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves- topped with a silky smooth maple sugar frosting and drizzled with tangy, sweet apple cider caramel. This is pure fall!
For the Cake:
  • ½ cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix) or homemade pureed pumpkin
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ cup buttermilk, room temperature
For the Maple Frosting:
  • *Note: If maple sugar is not available, substitute dark brown sugar for a brown sugar frosting.)
  • ½ cup maple sugar
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons milk (preferably whole milk)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
For the Apple Cider Caramel:
To Make the Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease a bundt pan with oil or non-stick cooking spray then flour the pan. Tap out the excess and set the pan aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the batter blade (or in a bowl with an electric mixer) cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and add the eggs, one at a time, blending and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. When the eggs are fully incorporated, blend in the pumpkin and vanilla. It may look curdly and horrid, but that's okay! Keep going!
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour with the rest of the dry ingredients. Add about ⅓ of the flour to the butter mixture and blend until incorporated. Add ½ of the buttermilk and blend in completely. Repeat with another ⅓ of the flour and blend. Finish mixing the batter by adding the final ½ of buttermilk, mixing, then adding the final ⅓ of flour.
  5. Spoon the cake batter into the prepared bundt pan, gently smooth the top and bake the cake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the thickest part of the cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly with your finger.
  6. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes before carefully turning out onto the rack to cool completely. While the cake cools, make the caramel...
To Make the Apple Cider Caramel:
  1. Bring the boiled cider syrup and brown sugar to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 3 minutes. Whisk in the heavy cream and return to a boil. Boil for 2 more minutes then drop the heat to low. Add the butter one pat at a time, whisking it in until it's fully incorporated. When all of the pats of butter have been added and incorporated, pour the hot caramel into a clean pint jar, reserving any excess for drizzling over the cake. Let cool completely before drizzling on the cake.
To Make the Maple Frosting and Assemble the Cake:
  1. Bring the maple sugar, butter, and milk to a boil, whisking constantly. Boil for 1 minute, still whisking constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla extract. Be careful, it will boil up!
  2. Gradually whisk in the powdered sugar. Continue whisking it gently until smooth, cooled slightly and thick, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Place the cooled cake on a cake plate or serving platter and immediately pour warm maple frosting over the cake. Let the frosting rest for 5 minutes, then drizzle with the apple cider caramel.
  4. Store leftovers, well covered, at room temperature for up to 3 days.



  1. Jennifer says

    This looks yummy! Do you have any suggestions to incorporate the the maple flavor with real maple syrup rather than maple sugar? Thanks!

    • says

      I like maple sugar in this because it adds thickness to the finished caramel. I have a good source of real maple sugar, so I play with it a lot. Are you looking to sub it because you have maple syrup handy?

  2. says

    I’m with you on the much anticipated arrival of fall, and especially cold, drizzly days! Seasonal Affective Disorder? Not me! I get that in the summer with our seemingly never-ending bright, sunny, hotter-than-Hades days. Hooray for the gloomy days of winter! Oh yeah…that cake looks mighty good also!

  3. jackie says

    I am making this for my son’s birthday this weekend and am so excited! I really love coming to your site, because it gets my own creative cooking ideas flowing. I think I’ll serve the cake with cinnamon ice cream, topped *hopefully* (if we can hold off eating it all) with more cider caramel sauce.

  4. Anna. K says

    Wow this cake looks so moist and delicious. Fall is my favorite season also and I just love walking past stores seeing the words pumpkin, spice, cinnamon, apple cider! I come by your blog at least 1-2 times a week but this is my first time actually leaving a comment. (sry if that creeped you out haha) I can’t wait to try this recipe. Although I think I’m gonna have to skip the apple cider caramel bc I dont have any apple cider syrup and I simply dont think I can wait that long to get it through online; I want to make this like asap! Anyways, do you have any dessert recipes that incorporates sweet potatoes? (also one of my fav. autumn veg) I am currently obsessed with the purple sweet potatoes, they’re so smooth and sweet. I wanted to make some sort of a mousse with it and make layer cake but I’m not sure how to.

    • says

      Not creepy, awesome!!!!!! I use pureed roasted sweet potatoes in equal amounts any place pumpkin, butternut squash, acorn squash, etc… is called for. I find they’re pretty interchangeable for end textures but with subtly different taste results. :-) I’m glad you’re visiting! Keep it up!

  5. Nichole says

    Just made this today- Oh. My. Goodness! It was wonderful. I ended up accidentally scorching the caramel sauce a bit though, so instead I drizzled some Apple Cider Syrup in it’s place- loved it!
    On a second note, I just discovered your blog 2 weeks ago and have already tried a handful of recipes, I love your blog. Your humor is too close to mine and I haven’t come across a recipe posted here that I haven’t wanted to try! :-)

  6. Christine says

    I made this for a team potluck tonight and it was VERY successful. People were raving. I messed up the icing (got ahead of myself) and didnt have the drizzle. I only had the dark brown sugar. And it still got great comments from literally six different people, most of whom I dont know well, who HUNTED me down separately to talk about the cake. Dang Rebecca! Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

  7. Karryn says

    Hi Rebecca,
    This is JUST what I was looking for, and I found you thanks to Pinterest friends. I, too, can’t find maple sugar. Can I substitute the suggested dark brown sugar AND add maple flavoring instead of vanilla?

    Many thanks, and I love your photography!

  8. Avery says

    Made this cake and it was sooo good. But I had a couple of problems. I used Brown sugar for the frosting rather than the maple sugar, and while it was yummy, the frosting came out so thick! I definitely wasn’t able to pour it over the cake; I had to spread it which was still difficult, and it did not come out as pretty as yours. Also, I had an abundance of the apple cider caramel, I barely used a quarter of it. Thanks for this amazing recipe…making it again this week but wanted to fix a few issues I had last time.

    • says

      Avery- I’d start with far less sugar and just keep adding ’til it seems pourable. As for the apple cider caramel, I mentioned that there’d be quite a bit left over. It keeps well, so I hope you stashed it in the fridge to use on subsequent cakes! (Or in tea/coffee/cookies/etc…)

  9. Claire says

    I had an early fall craving this week and your blog is always one of my go-to’s. This recipe is great! I’ll be surprised if the cake makes it through the weekend :) my favorite part is the maple frosting, absolutely delicious! Thank you so much!

  10. Michele says

    I’m wondering if this would freeze well if made ahead? I need to prepare a few things in advance, but I would love to try this. Any suggestions?

    • says

      I have never tried freezing it in advance. Most Un-iced or Un-frosted cakes freeze well, so it would probably work- I just can’t speak from personal experience!

  11. says

    While I’d love to make this(!)…unfortunately, the author doesn’t disclose which size Bundt pan she uses. (Hello ~ it’s not obvious. And baking needs to be exact, including pan sizing. Ugh…internet recipes!)

  12. Pat says

    I have made this wonderful cake 3 times, and it is delicious. I vary the frosting, the maple flavour seems to fight with the spices. I will try a bit of whiskey butter frosting this time.


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