This pumpkin chai snack cake is soft, fluffy, and the most delicious Fall dessert! The moist pumpkin cake is flavored with real pumpkin puree and topped with creamy, luscious maple chai cream cheese frosting. You'll definitely want more than one slice!
One of my favorite parts of Fall is the return of the pumpkin chai latte at Starbucks. There's something about sweet pumpkin and warm, spicy chai together with creamy steamed milk that is divine. This homemade pumpkin snack cake with chai cream cheese frosting is the cake version of that drink!
This is the perfect snack cake for a chilly day. It is cozy, warming, and nostalgic like your favorite sweater.
Watch How to Make This Recipe
Why This Recipe Works
- Pure pumpkin flavor- The pumpkin sponge cake is flavored with real pumpkin puree.
- Light and fluffy cake- The cake is super fluffy and will stay moist for days!
- Maple chai cream cheese frosting- Chai spices and maple are the perfect compliment to pumpkin. It's the ultimate Fall frosting.
- Easy to make- You can make the cake in one bowl with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.
Here are some notes about the ingredients used. For quantities, see the recipe card below.
- Avocado oil
- Maple syrup- Use 100% pure maple syrup, not pancake syrup. You can use a maple syrup alternative if needed.
- Vanilla extract
- Pumpkin puree- Use real pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling.
- All purpose four
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Pumpkin pie spice
- Cream cheese- Pull this out an hour before making the frosting to soften.
- Unsalted butter- Pull this out with the cream cheese to soften.
- Powdered sugar
- Ground cloves
- Black pepper
- Avocado oil: Use any mild oil, like vegetable, canola, or grapeseed oil.
- All purpose flour: Substitute this for gluten free all purpose flour to make the recipe without gluten.
- Use dairy free cream cheese and butter for a dairy free cake.
Helpful Equipment and Tools
You'll also need basic baking equipment like parchment paper, measuring cups, measuring spoons, mixing bowls, a whisk, and a rubber spatula. I recommend a food scale too.
Step by Step Instructions
Here are the steps to make the pumpkin chai snack cake. Before you start, preheat the oven to 350F and line a 9x9 baking pan with parchment paper.
STEP 1: Mix the wet ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the avocado oil and maple syrup together. Then, mix in the vanilla and eggs. After that, mix in the pumpkin puree until smooth.
STEP 2: Mix the dry ingredients. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice to the bowl. Use a rubber spatula to fold the ingredients in until no streaks of flour remain. It's ok if the batter is lumpy.
STEP 3: Bake. Pour the pumpkin snack cake batter into the prepared pan. Smooth it out with a rubber spatula and bake at 350F for 18-22 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.
STEP 4: Make the frosting. In a large bowl with a handheld mixer or stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the room temperature butter and cream cheese together on medium-high until no lumps of cream cheese remain. Add in the vanilla and half of the powdered sugar. Then, mix on medium until fully combined and repeat with the remaining half of the powdered sugar and all the chai spices. Then, mix in the maple syrup on low until smooth and silky.
STEP 5: Frost. Use a spoon or offset spatula to smooth an even layer of frosting over the cake. Swirl in extra maple syrup and add a dusting of cinnamon if desired. Slice and enjoy!
- Make sure you're not using pumpkin pie filling that has already been flavored with spices. Pumpkin puree should only have one ingredient listed, which is pumpkin.
- If you don't have pumpkin pie spice, you can make your own.
- Don't overbake the cake. It is ready when it springs back to the touch or has a few moist crumbs when a toothpick is inserted.
- Wait for the cake to cool completely before frosting! This takes patience, but the frosting will melt and slide off if the cake is too hot. It'll take 30-40 minutes on the counter to cool.
Additions and Variations
- Nuts- Add chopped pecans, walnuts, or pepitas to the batter or sprinkle on top.
- Baking chips- Add chocolate chips (milk, dark, or white chocolate) or butterscotch chips to the batter or sprinkle some on top.
- Sprinkles- Decorate the cake with Fall sprinkles for a festive touch.
- Brown sugar frosting- Frost with this brown sugar frosting instead.
Frequently Asked Questions
I personally prefer canned pumpkin, but you can use fresh pumpkin puree if you have it! Make sure it isn't too wet.
I have not tested this, but feel free to give it a shot! Just keep an eye on the cupcakes in the oven. You could also use an 8x8 baking pan or 9x13 pan for a thinner sheet cake.
You probably baked the cake too long or added too much flour to the batter. Make sure to measure the flour correctly by spooning it into a measuring cup and leveling off the excess. Measuring it with a kitchen scale is the most accurate method.
Your powdered sugar might not be fine enough! Sifting the powdered sugar before making the frosting helps achieve a smoother texture.
Storage and Freezing
It's easy to make the pumpkin spice cake ahead of time for a harvest party! Make the cake, store it, and then make the frosting the day of. Below are more storage tips.
- Counter- Store leftover, unfrosted cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. It will stay super moist!
- Refrigerator- Store leftover chai cream cheese frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Frosted cake can be stored the same way. Leave it on the counter to come to room temperature before serving.
- Freezer- You can freeze the unfrosted or frosted cake slices wrapped in plastic wrap in an airtight container for up to 1 month in the freezer. Let it thaw on the counter for a few hours before eating.
More Fall Recipes to Try
Pumpkin Chai Snack Cake
- 1 9x9 baking pan glass or metal
Maple Chai Cream Cheese Frosting
- 4 oz cream cheese full-fat, softened
- 4 tablespoon unsalted butter softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon allspice
- ¼ cup maple syrup
For the pumpkin cake
- Preheat the oven to 350F and line a 9x9 baking pan with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk the avocado oil and maple syrup together. Then, mix in the vanilla and eggs. After that, mix in the pumpkin puree until smooth.½ cup avocado oil, ⅔ cup maple syrup, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 large eggs, 8 oz pumpkin puree
- Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice to the bowl. Use a rubber spatula to fold the dry ingredients in until no streaks of flour remain. The batter will be thick and slightly lumpy.1 ¼ cup all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth it out with a rubber spatula and bake for 18-22 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean with a few moist crumbs. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.
For the chai cream cheese frosting
- In a large bowl with a handheld mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the room temperature cream cheese and butter together on medium-high until it is smooth and no lumps remain.4 oz cream cheese, 4 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Add in the vanilla and half of the powdered sugar. Then, mix on medium until fully combined and repeat with the remaining half of the powdered sugar and all of the spices. Then, mix in the maple syrup on low until smooth and silky.1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 cups powdered sugar, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground cardamom, ¼ teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ teaspoon ground cloves, ⅛ teaspoon black pepper, ⅛ teaspoon allspice, ¼ cup maple syrup
Frosting the cake
- Once the cake has completely cooled, use the back of a spoon or an offset spatula to smooth an even layer of frosting over the cake. Swirl in extra maple syrup and add a dusting of cinnamon if desired. Slice and enjoy!