This Vegan Pumpkin Cake with Low Sugar Frosting is an absolutely perfect pumpkin cake dream! It truly is the softest, fluffiest and most delicious, moist pumpkin cake I’ve had. It is only 8 ingredients, oil-free, easy to make and topped with a super creamy low sugar coconut cream frosting!
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VEGAN PUMPKIN CAKE
Due to the popularity of my Best Vegan Pumpkin Bread, I really got an itch to turn it into a Vegan Pumpkin Cake. But knowing that I had created the bread to be the perfect, firm texture as a loaf, it doesn’t quite work as well as a cake. I need my cake to be soft, fluffy and light. So, I tweaked a couple of ingredients to make that happen. Perfection happened! Hard to believe this cake is oil-free since it is so moist. That’s right, no oil at all in this vegan pumpkin cake. Learn all my secrets to oil-free baking in How to Cook and Bake Without Oil!
This cake is not gluten-free. I will work on that asap, but if you are wanting to make some gluten-free pumpkin goodies, try any of these.
OTHER VEGAN PUMPKIN RECIPES TO TRY:
- Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Vegan Gluten-free Pumpkin Bread
- Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte Pancakes
- Vegan Pumpkin Cherry Muffins
- Vegan Pumpkin Spice Sauce
- The Best Vegan Pumpkin Pie EVER
- Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Cake Brownies
- Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte Ice Cream
INGREDIENTS TO MAKE VEGAN PUMPKIN CAKE
First, you will need to gather these 8 ingredients (+salt): the exact quantities are on the recipe card below
- Whole Wheat Pastry flour: Unlike my pumpkin bread that uses spelt, I switched to pastry flour since I added applesauce to this cake. Applesauce gives lots of moisture (more than pumpkin) so the pastry flour absorbs the moisture better and yields the perfect balance of softness and moisture and fluffy texture. Spelt makes things extra moist, so it combined with the applesauce and pumpkin was more dense.
- Cornstarch: This is what replaces eggs, in addition, to making it fluffy and giving it the most perfect, firm texture.
- Baking soda: This makes the pumpkin cake rise and give it tenderness.
- Pumpkin spices with an extra bit of cloves: The best flavor ever comes from my perfect blend of pumpkin spices.
- Black pepper: Extra secret ingredient to the flavor and you don’t taste pepper, it’s just extra depth of flavor and enriches all of the pumpkin spices.
- Pure Maple Syrup
- Lite Coconut Milk: This cake is very low-fat, so the coconut milk adds moisture and lightness, but if you are allergic, you can try another creamy milk like cashew milk.
- Unsweetened applesauce: The combo of both applesauce and pumpkin makes this cake moist, soft and fluffy. The addition of the applesauce is what makes this a soft, cake texture.
HOW TO MAKE VEGAN PUMPKIN CAKE
To a large bowl, add the syrup, applesauce, pumpkin and milk. Whisk until completely smooth. Set aside.
To a separate medium bowl, add the dry ingredients.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until smooth, being careful not to over-mix.
Add to an 8×8 square baking dish and spread out evenly and smooth.
Bake for 24 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Now, let’s make the frosting to top the vegan pumpkin cake!
LOW SUGAR FROSTING
I was very particular in the kind of frosting I wanted to put on this cake. Now, honestly, this cake is so delicious, you don’t even need to add a frosting if you don’t want to. It’s plenty delicious, perfectly spiced and moist. But since it’s a cake, I added a frosting to it, looks better in pics anyways.
Since my favorite thing about fall cakes is the spices and deep flavors, I’m not crazy about frostings that are too sweet or strong in flavor. This is because I find that it competes too much with all the pumpkin spices. If you prefer a sweet icing or you hate coconut, or don’t want the fat, then another option is my Cream Cheese Glaze. Don’t make this expecting it to taste like traditional buttercream. It doesn’t! It is creamy and light, but very much coconut!
This frosting is super low sugar. It is just sweet enough to give it flavor, but doesn’t compete with the beautiful vegan pumpkin cake flavor. On it’s own, it tastes quite subtle, but it didn’t stop my daughter and mother-n-law from sticking their fingers in the bowl! Subtle or not, once on the cake, it is a delicious combo. If you prefer not to make a frosting, just a dusting of powdered sugar or the brand So Delicious carries Cocowhip that is also delicious on this cake! Just add a dollop right before serving.
Now, since this frosting is made from coconut cream, it is very soft. It is not a traditional buttercream that you can leave out for hours. So, it is best to serve the chilled coconut frosting on top of the cake right after serving.
I hope you all love this Vegan Pumpkin Cake with Low Sugar Frosting as much as we did!
MORE VEGAN CAKE RECIPES TO TRY:
- Vegan Funfetti Birthday Cake
- Vegan Gingerbread Cake
- Vegan Gluten-free Vanilla Cake
- Vegan Cinnamon Caramel Bundt Cake
- Vegan Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cake
- Vegan Almond Butter Cake
- Vegan Wedding Cake
Vegan Pumpkin Cake with Low Sugar Frosting
Vegan Pumpkin Cake with Low Sugar Frosting is an absolutely perfect pumpkin cake dream! It truly is the softest, fluffiest and most delicious, moist pumpkin cake I’ve had. It is only 8 ingredients, oil-free, easy to make and topped with a super creamy low sugar coconut cream frosting!
- 1 3/4 cups (224g) whole wheat pastry flour (this is what makes the cake so soft)
- 2 tablespoons (16g) cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 4 teaspoons pumpkin spice blend + 1/4 teaspoon cloves (SEE NOTE BELOW)
- 3/4 cup (240g) pure maple syrup
- 1/2 cup (120g) unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 cup (120g) canned pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup (60g) canned "lite" coconut milk (shaken first) If allergic to coconut, use another creamy milk like cashew
- If you want to use a store-bought blend, that is fine, but ADD an extra 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves to the blend. Store blends don't have enough. For the best flavor, use my blend: Combine the following well with a fork and add to the recipe: 2 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/4 teaspoon pepper. You do not add an extra 1/4 tsp cloves to MY blend, just the 1/2 teaspoon.
LOW SUGAR CREAM FROSTING (optional-this cake is plenty moist & delicious without any topping, but this frosting makes a delicious addition and presentation. Omit if avoiding coconut and just add a sprinkle of powdered sugar or cocowhip for an easy topping.
- 1 can Thai Kitchen full-fat coconut milk (chilled overnight or longer, you will only be using the thickened cream at the top of the can, so don't shake the can.)
- 2 tablespoons (40g) maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon regular molasses
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2-4 tablespoons powdered sugar (optional for a sweeter frosting) DO NOT add more syrup or it will make it too runny
- Of course, as always, I recommend highly to use a scale to prevent room for error. You don't need cups or to compare the weights to cups, just simply follow the weights listed, as this is exactly how the recipes are tested and made. Make sure to zero out before adding each ingredient.
- I use this scale.
If making the frosting, follow step 10 listed below before making the cake, as it requires chilling.
If using the coconut frosting, you will have to store the leftovers in the fridge so the frosting doesn't melt. When ready to have another piece, let it soften back to room temperature if desired. IF NOT using the coconut frosting, store the cake covered well with foil at room temperature and it'll stay soft and moist.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and spray an 8x8 square baking dish with nonstick spray. Or cut two pieces of parchment paper to lie flat going in each direction.
To a large bowl, add the syrup, applesauce, pumpkin and milk. Whisk until completely smooth. Set aside.
To a medium bowl, combine the pastry flour, cornstarch, baking soda, pumpkin spices, black pepper and salt. Whisk very well.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the liquid and stir gently, folding until it all comes together into a moist, cohesive batter. Don’t over-mix, just until combined and smooth. It will be thick, but smooth, not stiff.
Add the batter to the pan. Use the back of a spoon to smooth out the top flat and evenly out to the corners.
Bake for 24 minutes or until a toothpick is completely clean from the center to the bottom of the pan. Ovens will vary, so yours may take longer.
Cool 45 minutes before slicing. This is hard to wait, but the cake must finish cooling. If making the coconut frosting, cool completely. Otherwise, sprinkle with powdered sugar or eat plain, it's just as amazing without any topping
FOR THE FROSTING: Place the can of coconut milk into the fridge to chill overnight or 2 days for best results. Please note that there are many brands on the market and the quality of the coconut milk will determine the result of your frosting setting up. Some are not creamy enough and will be runny. This frosting will NOT stay firm like a buttercream at room temperature
Do NOT shake the can first, as the water and cream will have hardened and separated and you will only be using the cream. Scoop out all the hardened cream at the top ONLY, discard the water. It should be very thick...if it is runny, it is not a good brand or can and won't work for the frosting. I always use Thai Kitchen for best results.
Once the cake has completely cooled (otherwise, the frosting will melt), spread the chilled frosting on top and serve immediately. Since this is a coconut cream frosting, it will start to really soften sitting out soon at room temperature, so you will want to frost the cake right before eating.
Add the coconut cream to a large bowl and beat until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the syrup, molasses, vanilla and optional sugar and beat again for a couple of minutes until light and fluffy. Now, this is not an very sweet frosting at all, it is subtle, so don't judge it until it's chilled and set on the cake! It is the perfect compliment to the spiced cake so it doesn't take away from the cake flavor.
Place in the fridge to further chill and set until ready to frost the cake. Ideally, overnight is best. After you spread the frosting on the cake, you can place it back in the fridge to briefly chill or in the freezer for no more than 20 minutes. You don't want to chill the cake too long or it'll change the soft texture of the cake.