Baby cakes: Just a few sweet bites

Ah, autumn! The frost is on the pumpkin.

And the frosting is on the pumpkin cake. Cream cheese frosting, to be precise.

What is it about rich, thick cream cheese frosting that sings so beautifully with anything pumpkin? I mean, they go together like movies and popcorn. (Or October and political ads.) There’s just something about the slightly exotic, mildly spicy taste of pumpkin, and the temptingly tangy, sumptuous and creamy flavor of cream cheese that simply says YES to my taste buds.

Frankly, I’m not THAT big of a fan of pumpkin. Oh sure, the odd slice of pumpkin pie after stuffing myself with stuffing (the best part of Thanksgiving dinner) isn’t amiss. And I love curried pumpkin soup. And the pumpkin seeds left over after carving a jack-o’-lantern get rinsed, tossed with olive oil, salted, baked, and thoroughly enjoyed

But pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cake… whatever. Unless cream cheese frosting is on top. In which case pumpkin “whatever” is a great intermediary between me and the icing on the cake. Especially if that icing has a shower of crunchy-spicy-sweet-hot crystallized ginger sprinkled on top.

If you happen to be one of those bakers who rushes to try every new pumpkin cake, muffin, bar, and cookie recipe, you’ll love these moist, mildly spicy mini cakes. If pumpkin is more of a take-it-or-leave-it taste for you, try these anyway. I guarantee your opinion of this autumn standby will increase in proportion to the amount of cream cheese frosting piled on top!


These are easy to make, because most of the ingredients are simply beaten together all at once. Put vegetable oil, eggs, sugar, pumpkin purée, spices, salt, and baking powder in a mixing bowl, and beat till smooth. This will be a quick process. Note: The recipe calls for granulated sugar. This was a version I tried with half granulated, half brown sugar; it worked out fine. Your choice.


Add the flour…


…and beat gently, just to incorporate.


Next, use a muffin scoop to dollop the batter into a greased mini-pumpkin pan. Alternatively, scoop it into standard muffin cups, or a 9” x 9” pan.


Fill the cups about 3/4 full.


Bake till a cake tester inserted into one of the center pumpkins comes out clean.


Remove from the pan, and cool on a rack. Awww, little baby pumpkins… Enjoy looking at them now, because we’re about to lose their shape in a schmear of cream cheese icing. YUM.


Your butter and cream cheese will go together more smoothly if they’re at room temperature. If they’re not, microwave them VERY briefly—like, maybe 10-15 seconds, just till they’ve softened a bit without showing any sign of melting.


Combine the softened butter and cream cheese with the sugar and vanilla.


Beat till silky-smooth. Since the butter and cream cheese are soft, this happens quickly.


Fill a tablespoon cookie scoop level with icing; this helps you distribute the icing evenly among the cakes. If you don’t have a cookie scoop, just eyeball it.


Scoop icing atop the cakes…


…and smooth with a table knife.


Sprinkle finely diced crystallized ginger on top, if desired.


These are very, very tasty.


And pretty, too. Even though you can’t see their pumpkin shape.

Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Pumpkin Mini Cakes.

Buy vs. Bake

Buy: Cakes & Desserts By Melissa: 1 dozen pumpkin spice cupcakes with white chocolate cream cheese frosting, $24, $2.00 each

Bake at home: 1 dozen Pumpkin Mini Cakes with Cream Cheese Frosting, $5.10, 43¢ each

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Gayle

    Would these work well in reg. mini cupcake pans do you think?

    Yes, you could use a mini cupcake pan. Just keep an eye on the baking time.

    Happy Baking!

    MaryJane @ The Baker’s Hotline

  2. Deb in MN

    Wow, what an easy cake to mix up! I just rec’d my mini pumpkin pan on Saturday and hadn’t used it yet, so this was the perfect opportunity to give it a try. My cakes are in the oven and they smell heavenly! I decreased the oven temp by 25 degrees because the pan is so dark, is this necessary? Do you have anymore really simple cake recipes like this?

    Deb, usually if the pan is dark, we recommend reducing oven temp by 25 degrees. This recipe was testing in the same pan, so you could use the stated temperture.
    As to recipes, we have over 1000 recipes on our site. Just make a cup of tea, and browse away!
    Happy Baking!

    MaryJane @ The Baker’s Hotline

  3. Beth

    What a clever idea – to use a scoop to ice the cupcakes. I don’t know why I’ve never thought to do that. And just the other day I was thinking of buying some large pastry tubes to pipe cookies, etc. – anything to speed up decorating muffins/baby cakes. Thanks for the tip.

  4. Deb in MN

    These are the most wonderful pumpkin cupcakes I’ve ever eaten . . .and the frosting is great as well!
    Thank you!

  5. Janet O'Connor

    I’m going to order a mini pumpkin pan. These are so cute. The recipe looks wonderful. Thank you for publishing this idea. Can I use the cakes in a children’s story I’m writing? I know that sounds over the top, but I love the looks of these.

    What a wonderful idea, Janet – sounds delightful, go for it- PJH

  6. Deb

    One question: what SIZE can of pumpkin???? I’d love to make these, but the recipe isn’t specific enough about the pumpkin…15oz can?


    Deb, the recipe calls for 1 cup (8 ounces) canned pumpkin (pumpkin purée), which is about half of a standard 15-ounce-or-so can. PJH

  7. Tia

    How many cakes can you get out of this recipe? If I only purchase one pan, will the batter hold up while waiting to refill? Thanks….

    The pan is perfect for the recipe, Tia – 1 dozen cakes. It’s basically same capacity as a standard muffin pan. PJH

  8. sher

    Will this recipe work with butter instead of oil? Thanks in advance.

    Haven’t tried it, but it should be just fine- PJH

  9. Kimberly

    If you bake it in a 9×9 pan do you bake it at the same temp and time?

    Not sure, Kimberly. But probably you’d bake at the same temperature, for a bit longer. Bake till a tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. PJH

  10. Jen Seymour

    Do you think this recipe would work with other winter squashes? I’m BURIED under butternut squash at the moment and need something to do with it….

    Thanks for a great blog and great idea!

    Hi Jen – If you had a thick enough purée… Should be the same thickness as canned pumpkin. if you can do that, then sure, go for it. They’d just be a different color and different flavor, but texturally should be fine. PJH

  11. Ros

    I’ve never baked with pumpkin before, it’s not really that popular here in the UK.
    But these look great, I’m going to give them a go for Hallow’een.

  12. Mary Corbet

    Made them – they turned out great. The icing and the ginger “make” these little cakes. Be generous with the ginger!!

    I agree – don’t you love crystallized ginger? Such a contradiction – sweet, hot, chewy, crunchy… PJH

  13. Cathie

    Hey Jen, if you bake butternut squash really well, it purees with a spoon and has exactly the same texture as pumpkin. I tried it last night in pumpkin bread and it has a lighter, fresher flavor than canned pumpkin but is so close that I don’t think anyone could tell the difference otherwise. Congrats to you on your avalanche of butternuts, btw–the squash bugs got mine this year, doggone it!

  14. Karen

    I like to use whole wheat flour as often as possible in recipes – would this recipe work out well if I used 1/2 whole wheat and half unbleached all purpose white flour? Sure, that should make a very tasty treat! Tara @The Baker’s Hotline

  15. Janice

    Is that brown sugar in the first picture of the recipe above – with the eggs, oil, pumpkin, etc ? The recipe doesn’t specify brown sugar, but it would be yummier with the molasses taste!

    Gosh, sure looks like brown sugar, doesn’t it? I might have used a combination; I’ll go back and check it. Stay tuned – and thanks for alerting me. PJH

  16. Karen

    Would this cake work in the mini bundt pans (not the muffins, but the ones with the hole in the middle) or it too tender?

    No, they’re not that delicate; they should be fine. Go for it! PJH

  17. Heather

    These cupcakes are a transforming experience! Thank you! Two suggestions:

    1) Maybe I just had a really wet can of pumpkin puree, but it seemed like the appropriate baking time for a standard muffin tin was closer to 30 minutes – at 20 it was more like pudding.
    2) How about “See Jesus” Cupcakes? Just a suggestion:)

    We are glad you checked the muffin centers to make sure your product was cooked through. Thanks for the tips about cooking time, this will remind others to check before taking the muffins out of the oven.
    We have not heard about your other recipe suggestion! Irene from King Arthur Flour

  18. Patty White

    I purchase your mini cheese cake pan last year and am always looking for recipes to use in it so I’ll try this. Any other suggestions?

    Yes, try our Caramel Chocolate Seduction, and out Mini Cheesecakes, both of which you’ll find online at Enjoy! PJH

  19. Heather

    Actually, “See Jesus” Cupcakes was my suggestion for renaming this “Pumpkin Mini Cakes” recipe:) Never thought I’d suggest it for something that wasn’t chocolate, but these are amazing!

    Well… glad you like them, Heather. Enthusiasm is a good thing! PJH

  20. Cheryl King

    I tried the recipe this weekend—baked in a mini bundt pan. They were so good. We couldn’t resist eating them hot out of the oven. In fact, as much as I love icing especially any icing with cream cheese in it, I have to say I like the cakes better with out the icing. It just seemed to overpower the taste of the cake. I think the next time I will just glaze them. I also wonder if you could bake them with a streusel topping for a different taste?

    I enjoy the blog and the great recipes. I have used KAF for years, but I think that I need to find another source. I’ve always used the local Kroger store but lately they have not carried unbleached white flour.


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