Spicy Pumpkin Bars or Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Spicy Pumpkin Bars or Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Moist and fragrant with aromatic spices, that tell us Autumn is truly upon us, these Spicy Pumpkin Bars or Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting will be the hit of your Fall Celebrations.  

Make them as bars for less formal meals and get-togethers or for more special occasions bake in three layers for a beautiful show-stopper dessert.

I've made these Spicy Pumpkin Bars several times for the family and church dinners and they've been happily wiped off the face of the earth by those found munching and drooling over these cakey bits of spicy sweetness.  They are called bars but they are more cake than cookie and I've contemplated baking the recipe in two or three round cake pans.  Today I did just that.  I did make a few bars but most of the batter was scraped into the round cake pans.  I was delighted with the results.  Keep reading and looking at the pictures to see how the cake and bars turn out.

This delicious recipe comes from The Iowa Housewife, originally from Pillsbury Harvest Time Cookbook 1980.   Because this is a one bowl, mix-it-all-together-cake it takes only minutes to prepare the batter.  And because I have a small apartment size stove, my oven will not take the large 15x19-inch pan, I halve the recipe and bake it in a 9x13-inch pan which makes for a little thicker bar.  

I use less cloves than written in the recipe as I find it overpowering.  I've included my measurement in brackets in the recipe below.

Printable recipe at end of post.
Spicy Pumpkin Bars or Cake
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cloves (I use ½ teaspoon)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup oil
  • 15 ounces pure canned pumpkin or 1⅞ cups*  (not pie filling)
  • 4 eggs
How to make it:
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease a 15x19-inch pan if making bars or use three 8-inch cake pans, greased and floured if you are making a cake.

In large bowl, blend all ingredients at low speed until moistened. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed. Pour into prepared pan(s). Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. 

Cool on wire rack. Frost when thoroughly cool.  See Frosting recipe below. 

Makes approximately 36 bars or one 3 layer cake serves 12-16.  You may cut servings smaller or larger depending on your own wishes.

*Note1⅞ cups is 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons.

Cream Cheese Frosting (Double ingredients if making for cake.) 
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ package cream cheese (4 ounces), room temperature
  • ¼ cup butter softened
  • 1 Tablespoon milk, if needed
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
How to make it:
Chopped nuts for garnish, if desired

Beat frosting ingredients until well mixed. You can do this with your mixer or by hand.  The frosting will be fluffier if done with a mixer.  Frost thoroughly cooled bars or cake.    Sprinkle with nuts if desired. Pecans or walnuts are particularly good with these bars.

Place all the ingredients in the mixing bowl of your mixer.  Beat slowly until combined and then beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.  And that's all there is to it!

Prepare pan(s) by greasing and lining with parchment paper for easy removal.

You can use either the retangular pan (see picture above) for bars or three 8-inch round cake pans.  You can use 9-inch round pans as well but the cake will be a little flatter.  You will need to adjust the baking time as well. 

When the pan of bars are cool, frost with the Cream Cheese Frosting.  A few nuts sprinkled on top adds a festive touch and a nice crunch.

If you've baked the batter in round cake pans, when cool, fill and frost the top with the Cream Cheese Frosting.  Double the recipe so there is enough frosting to cover the sides as well.   I left the sides of my cake unfrosted but I did have enough frosting if I wanted to frost the sides.  Now I have to figure out what to do with the left-over frosting, ha, ha.  

Don't forget to add a nice border of nuts to your cake.  I chose pecans to decorate my cake. 

No matter which way you bake this your guests will be glad you provided such a tasty dessert. 

These spicy, fragrant bars will be gobbled up in no time.

Spicy Pumpkin Bars or Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Ready for company.  
This cake is going to Thanksgiving dinner.

To print click on arrow upper right side.⇩          


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