ginger-pumpkin spiced pound cake

A combination of pumpkin and gingerbread spice blends creates a sweet-and-spiced ginger-pumpkin pound cake that sings with fall flavors.

For the past few years, not a winter has gone by without making my favorite versatile cake: King Arthur Flour’s chai spiced pound cake, baked in a round bunt pan. I’ve never actually made the recipe verbatim, though. I’ve always swapped the chai spices out for gingerbread or speculaas or some other vaguely wintery spice blend. The addition of greek yogurt or sour cream keeps the cake moist and lets the spice blends really shine.

This year, since I had some pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice blend leftover from making the cinnamon-sugar pumpkin-spiced bagels, I decided to put a pumpkin-y twist on my favorite pound cake. I cut the amount of butter in the recipe in half, and replaced it with pumpkin puree. For the spice blend, I used a 2:1 ratio of pumpkin pie and gingerbread spices. Pumpkin pie spice on its own can be a little cloyingly sweet, and since this recipe calls for a full 3 tablespoons of the spice blend, the warm gingerbread spices balance out the sweetness of the pumpkin. Hello, fall. Ginger-Pumpkin Spiced Pound Cake has arrived.

Finally, for a less imposing and more casual “weeknight” cake, I baked it in a 9×5″ loaf pan. When I think pound cake I think loaf pan. Not to mention, it’s far more likely that you have a loaf pan in your kitchen, and they’re a whole lot easier to grease and flour. I also topped it with cinnamon sugar before baking, because I just love how it ads a bit of crunch to the top of a cracked-open cake loaf.

A loaf of ginger-pumpkin spiced pound cake sits on the left side of a round copper cooling rack. A small decorative pumpkin sits to its right. In the background 3 forks are stacked together and a small white pumpkin is visible in the top left corner of the photo.
In the top right of the photo a slice of ginger-pumpkin spiced pound cake sits on a light grey plate with a dark grey border. A fork has cut the slice in half and a bite has been taken out of the left half. A fork sits to the left of the plate and the edge of another plate is visible in the top left corner of the image. Blurry in the foreground is a loaf of ginger-pumpkin spiced pound cake with two slices leaning away from the loaf. The loaf sits on a round copper cooling rack along with a miniature decorative pumpkin.

How to make Ginger-Pumpkin Spiced Pound Cake

The very first thing you want to do is make sure that several key ingredients are at room temperature before you even think about turning the mixer on. Set your two eggs, stick of butter, pumpkin puree, and greek yogurt (or sour cream) out on the counter at least a few hours before you start baking. If they aren’t at room temp, you’ll have trouble getting them to incorporate in the mixer.

Start by beating the butter, pumpkin puree, and sugar together at medium speed with a mixer. Because the pumpkin puree is looser and has higher water content than butter, this mixture will be looser and more liquidy than when you beat just butter and sugar. Still, you want to really let the mixer work here — set a timer for 2-3 minutes and really go to town. You might still see some flecks of butter in the mixture after a couple minutes, but for the most part it should be one cohesive mixture.

Add the eggs one at a time, giving them a full minute to incorporate and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl before and after each addition. You’ll notice this recipe frequently calls for you to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. That’s because the sugar collects at the bottom of the bowl and it’s hard for the mixer beater to reach.

A large metal mixing bowl for a stand mixer sits on a grey speckled countertop. Inside the mixing bowl is a brown-orange ginger-pumpkin spiced pound cake batter, well beaten, with the paddle of the mixer leaning against the right side of the bowl. Behind the mixing bowl is a wooden cutting board with a kitchen scale, a light blue oven mitt, and the bottom of a cannister of flour visible.

Add the spice blends, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and stir to combine and evenly distribute. I used King Arthur Flour’s pre-made Pumpkin Spice and Gingerbread Spice blends, but if you’d rather not buy them I’ve included the individual spice measurements to use instead.

Finally, add half the flour, then all the yogurt or sour cream, and the rest of the flour, mixing in between to incorporate. The reason you add the flour in two parts is because if you try to add it all at once you’ll end up with big clouds of flour when you try to mix. Adding the flour in two parts with the yogurt or sour cream in between ensures it all combines evenly with no flour clouds on the forecast.

I completely forgot to make use of the minced candied ginger I have in my pantry, but next time I make this I’m definitely going to toss in 1/2 cup of those before pouring the batter into the loaf pan. The ginger bits turn jammy in the oven and offer bright bits of sweetness which would be so perfect in this cake.

Grease and flour a 9×5″ loaf pan, pour your batter in, dust the top with cinnamon sugar, and bake at 350F for 65 to 70 minutes. The best way to know that the cake is done is when a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. (Stick the knife into one of the open cracks to hide the entry point.) The cake might still look a little jiggly or under baked at that point, but don’t overthink it. If the knife comes out clean, it’s done.

A close-up of the cracked-open surface of a baked ginger-pumpkin spiced pound cake. Bright white cinnamon sugar is dusted across the surface.

Let it cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then run a knife around the edges of the pan and gently release it to finish cooling on a rack. Don’t slice it until it’s completely cool. You’ll notice the cake will compress slightly as it cools, and if you slice it too soon it’ll fall apart instead of cutting cleanly.

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Ginger-Pumpkin Spiced Pound Cake

Recipe by The Practical KitchenDifficulty: Easy
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

1

hour 

5

minutes
Cooling time

3-12

hours

A combination of pumpkin and gingerbread spice blends creates an sweet-and-spiced batter that sings with fall flavors. Make sure your ingredients are room temperature before you start mixing or the batter won’t come together smoothly.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (110g) unsalted butter, at room temp

  • 1/2 cup (110g) 100% pumpkin puree

  • 1 cup (213g) light brown sugar, packed

  • 1/4 cup (85g) honey

  • 2 large eggs, at room temp

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 2 TBSP Pumpkin Pie Spice

  • 1 TBSP Gingerbread Spice

  • 2 cups (241g) All-Purpose Flour

  • 1 cup (220g) sour cream or yogurt, full fat preferred (basically one of those single-serve yogurt cups — just check that it’s ~220g)

  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1 TBSP cinnamon sugar (optional, for topping)

Directions

  • Preheat your oven to 350F.
  • Combine butter, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, and honey in the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large mixing bowl, if using a hand mixer). Beat well at medium to medium-high speeds approx 2-3 minutes until well combined. There might be some visible flecks of butter but the mixture should be cohesive overall and well combined.
  • Add each egg one at a time, beating well between additions. Scrape down the side of the bowl before and after each egg.
  • Add the spice blends, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir gently just until combined.
  • Add half of the flour to the pumpkin/sugar/egg/spice mixture. Gently stir the flour into the wet ingredients, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl.

    NOTE: If using measuring cups instead of a kitchen scale, spoon the flour into the measuring cup then use the back of a knife to sweep excess off the top. This will prevent the cake from being too dense.
  • Add the sour cream or yogurt and vanilla, stir to combine.
  • Stir the rest of the flour into the wet ingredients until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl again.
  • Grease and flour a 9×5″ loaf pan. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and top with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 65-70 minutes or until a knife or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

    If your loaf appears to be browning too quickly after 50 minutes, tent a sheet of aluminum foil over the loaf and continue baking.
  • Remove the pan from the oven. Run a knife between the edges of the pan and the loaf. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling completely.

Notes

  • This recipe can also be baked in a 9-10 cup bunt pan for 50-55 minutes at 350F.
  • If you don’t want to use pre-made spice blends sub in 3 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 3 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp ground cloves, and 1/4 tsp allspice.
  • Optional: Stir 1/2 cup diced candied ginger into the batter before pouring into the loaf pan.
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