This easy to make oil-free Vegan Pumpkin Cake with 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!
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.
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: If you don't like coconut cream, you can simply add powdered sugar or a Cream Cheese Glaze or a traditional Buttercream Frosting. Otherwise, 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.
PUMPKIN SPICE: If you want to use a store-bought blend, that is fine, but ADD an extra 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves to the store blend. Store blends don't have enough. For the best flavor, use my blend. If you already have a batch of mine made, just use 4 teaspoons for the cake. If you'd rather just measure for what you'll need for the cake only, 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.