Pumpkin cream cheese sheet cake

Fall is here, and pumpkins are everywhere! I love a good jack-o'-lantern glowing in the window, but there's no better way to enjoy pumpkins than in a nice baked good. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, and even pumpkin bread pudding are all wonderful ways to enjoy pumpkin flavor, but pumpkin sheet cake takes the cake.

This pumpkin sheet cake with cream cheese frosting is the easiest and most delicious way to serve a hungry crowd. It gives you 32 servings of light, fluffy pumpkin cake, topped with smooth cream cheese frosting. Let's dive in!

Gather your ingredients

Before you get started, remove the four eggs from the refrigerator and allow them to rest at room temperature. This will keep the cake light and fluffy. It's okay to use cold eggs, but the cake may feel a little more dense. If you're short on time, place the eggs in a bowl of hot water for one minute. While you're waiting, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once your eggs are ready, gather your ingredients — there's a full list at the end of this article. We're using canned pumpkin pie filling instead of plain canned pumpkin for the extra fall flavor, and apple sauce for an extra hint of sweetness. 

It's also a good time to set out the butter and cream cheese you'll need for your frosting. They'll both need to warm up to room temp before you can whip that up.

Prepare the sheet pan

If you're like me, your sheet pan doesn't get a lot of rest. It's seen its fair share of baked chicken, roasted vegetables, and of course frozen pizzas. Because of that, it's likely coated with grease and burned bits. To prevent these food memories from tainting your pumpkin cake, take a moment to prepare your pan.

This sheet cake can easily stick to the sheet pan, so it's important to coat the pan well. Taking two tablespoons of butter, coat a large sheet pan by smearing the butter around the entire pan. Then sprinkle the pan with flour, and shake the pan to distribute the flour evenly. Discard the excess flour and set aside.

Mix the wet ingredients

In a large mixing bowl, add the four eggs, one and one-half cups sugar, one cup canola oil and four ounces of applesauce. Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the wet ingredients until fully combined. 

Add the pumpkin

Next add in the pumpkin pie filling. Beat with the whisk attachment until combined. The batter should have a light orange color and appear light and fluffy.

Incorporate the flour

Set your stand mixer to a medium speed and slowly incorporate the two cups of flour. Add the flour in half-cup intervals and make sure it's completely mixed before adding more. Then add the two teaspoons baking powder, one teaspoon baking soda, and one teaspoon kosher salt. Beat until combined.

Add the spice

Once the mixture is combined, sprinkle in the two teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, two teaspoons cinnamon, and one teaspoon ground cloves. If you don't have pumpkin pie spice on hand, you can make your own with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg. Make a small batch for this pumpkin cake or make enough to keep in a small mason jar for all of your fall desserts. 

Bake your cake

Once your batter is ready, pour it into the prepared sheet pan. Using the back of a large spoon or spatula, gently spread the batter evenly over the pan. Place the cake into the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. To check if the cake is done, place a toothpick into the center and slowly remove it. Once the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is ready.

Gather your frosting ingredients

While the cake is baking, we'll prepare the easiest, creamiest cream cheese frosting you've ever had. Allow the cup of butter and eight ounces of cream cheese to rest on the counter at room temperature to soften. Then measure the three cups of powdered sugar and and one teaspoon pure vanilla extract.

Whip the butter

Place the softened butter and cream cheese into a large mixing bowl. It's best to let the butter soften at room temperature, but if it is still too cold, feel free to microwave it. It melts quickly, so microwave it at five-second intervals until softened.

Beat with a hand mixer until light and fluffy.

Blend in the sugar

Next pour in the vanilla extract and start slowly adding the powdered sugar. While mixing the frosting with the hand mixer, pour in one-half cup of powdered sugar at a time, making sure it is completely absorbed before adding the next half-cup. Once the frosting is mixed, place it in the refrigerator until ready to frost the cake.

Allow the cake to cool

Once the cake has come out of the oven, allow it to rest in the sheet pan for at least 30 to 60 minutes before frosting it. Believe me, it's best to wait. I usually am impatient and then sadly watch as my delicious frosting melts off the too-warm cake. 

Frost the cake

Once the cake has cooled, remove the cream cheese frosting from the refrigerator and spread it evenly over the cake. Once frosted, sprinkle with one teaspoon of pumpkin spice. Cut into 32 perfect squares and serve immediately or refrigerate. 

Directions

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Servings: 32

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter + 2 tablespoons flour (for coating the pan)

  • 4 eggs, brought to room temperature

  • 4 ounces no-sugar-added applesauce

  • 1 ½ cups sugar

  • 1 cup canola oil

  • 1 ½ cups pumpkin pie filling

  • 2 cups all purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

(For the frosting)

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened

  • 1 cup butter, softened

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 3 cups powdered sugar

  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a large sheet pan with butter, then sprinkle with flour. Shake the pan to distribute the flour, then dump out any excess flour.

  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the eggs, applesauce, sugar, and canola oil. Beat to combine. Add the pumpkin pie filling and beat until smooth.

  3. As the stand mixer is mixing, slowly add the flour, making sure to allow the flour to be incorporated into the batter before adding more. Once the flour has been added and the mixture is a light orange color, sprinkle in the pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and ground cloves.

  4. Pour the batter into the prepared sheet pan and place in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely.

  5. While the cake bakes, prepare the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, combine the softened butter and cream cheese. Beat with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat to combine.

  6. Slowly add the powdered sugar until the frosting is thick and peaks form. Taste as you go. Spread the frosting over the cooled pumpkin cake and sprinkle with the remaining pumpkin pie spice. Enjoy!