Grain-Free Pumpkin Cake with Cinnamon-Maple Cream Cheese Frosting and Candied Pumpkin Seeds Recipe - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

Grain-Free Pumpkin Cake with Cinnamon-Maple Cream Cheese Frosting and Candied Pumpkin Seeds Recipe

Last Thanksgiving recipe for y’all!  “But Thanksgiving is next Thursday. You’re not going to post another recipe next week?”  Heck no!  I am encouraging you to commit to a menu TODAY if you have not done so already.  If you need help finding the perfect recipes, look no further than my 2019 Thanksgiving E-book.  It has everything recipe you could possibly need plus every tip and trick I have up my sleeve.  Commit and start writing your schedule and buy all of your groceries other than turkey, lettuces, fresh herbs, and a few perishable veggies and fruits like green beans and Brussels sprouts pronto. 

If you’re looking for another dessert that’s not a pie, I have the answer.  It’s this exceptionally tasty grain-free pumpkin cake.  It will also accommodate anyone who is gluten-free, and anyone who is Paleo if you use a grain-free baking powder and honey.  It’s full of pumpkin spices, is tender and moist, and is a cinch to make.  Basically all you have to do is throw all the ingredients in a food processor and process until well blended.  A mixer works equally well.  It takes a few minutes to make the batter and you can bake the cake the day before and leave it room temp.  Make the frosting up to a few days before and refrigerate it, and then frost the cake a few hours or right before serving.  How perfecto for Thanksgiving, right??

Last year, I actually used this as the base for my pumpkin bread pudding instead of traditional pumpkin bread.  It turned out amazing!  You could also double this recipe and make two 9-inch cakes and do a 2-layer cake.  Or do a single recipe and pour into 2 6-inch cake pans for a 2-layer mini cake!  Yes, you can also do cupcakes.

I frosted the cake with a simple cream cheese frosting and garnished with candid pumpkin seeds, but you can do whatever frosting you like (people seem to like the one from Simple Mills) and garnish with pomegranate seeds or candied pecans or walnuts or even crushed freeze-dried pineapple.

I have actually made this and after 2 days stored it well-wrapped in the fridge for a week and it was still amazing.  You could even freeze it.  Worth a try if you’re really slammed up until Thanksgiving.

I know people love to know how to make substitutions and I can give you suggestions for almost anything other than “what can you replace the almond flour with?”  Grain-free cakes are best with almond flour mixed with a starchy flour.  Occasionally I’ll add coconut flour too, but they are not all interchangeable.  I have a whole wheat pumpkin muffin on my site you can look at if you want a wheat-based recipe.


I just did an Instagram LIVE today which you can still see on my stories until Tuesday afternoon.  I’ll be doing many more, including one on Thanksgiving Day first thing in the morning, exact time TBD.  It will be like a Thanksgiving Hotline – give me all your questions and problems and I’ll help you out.  You got this!!  In exchange for my help, I want to see ALLLLLLLL your creations, so tag me on Instagram please #pamelasalzman @pamelasalzman.  Who’s excited???!!


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5.0 from 4 reviews
Grain-Free Pumpkin Cake with Cinnamon-Maple Cream Cheese Frosting and Candied Pumpkin Seeds
Serves: 8-12
  • 2 cups fine blanched almond flour (not almond meal)
  • ½ cup cassava flour, arrowroot powder, or tapioca flour
  • 2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder (look for grain-free baking powder if necessary)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon*
  • ¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ cup melted unrefined virgin coconut oil or olive oil + more for greasing the pan
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling) or half a 15-ounce can
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup or honey
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Optional add ins: currants, raisins or diced dates, chopped pecans
  • Frosting:
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature (dairy or dairy-free such as Kite Hill)
  • 3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (omit for a basic frosting)
  • Candied Pumpkin Seeds:
  • Unrefined coconut oil or unsalted butter for greasing
  • 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • ¼ cup hulled pumpkin seeds
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-inch or 9-inch cake pan, preferably a springform pan. Line the bottom with a piece of unbleached parchment paper, if desired.
  2. Place all cake ingredients, except optional add-ins, in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the standard metal blade or in a blender. Process until well combined and smooth. Or do this with an electric mixer.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula.
  4. Bake in the middle of the oven for 35-45 minutes or until the cake is lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean. Baking time will depend on your oven as well as the size pan you use. Cool for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pan, remove the cake and cool on a cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting. Cake can be made several days ahead and kept in the refrigerator, well-wrapped. Bring to room temp before serving.
  5. Prepare the frosting: beat together cream cheese, syrup and cinnamon until smooth. If using dairy cream cheese, it is helpful to use an electric mixer. You can use a whisk for dairy-free cream cheese. Frosting can be made a few days ahead and kept refrigerated.
  6. Prepare the candied pumpkin seeds: Preheat oven or toaster oven to 375 degrees. Line a small baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and lightly grease the paper.
  7. In a small saucepan, whisk together the maple syrup, brown sugar and salt over medium heat. Stirring constantly, cook until mixture is foamy, about 2 minutes. Stir in pumpkin seeds and toss to coat. Quickly spread out mixture on prepared parchment. Bake for 10 minutes, turning after 5 minutes. (Check early if your oven runs hot.) Remove from the oven to cool at room temperature where they will harden. Candied seeds can be prepared several days in advance.
*Or use 2 ½ teaspoons of your favorite pumpkin pie spice instead of all four individual spices.


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  1. Absolutely delicious cake and frosting, however the sunflower seeds burnt very quickly, after 3 min..or maybe it was the coating? I tried it twice and I was ON IT!

    • I’m sorry the candied seeds didn’t turn out well for you. Next time, I would try cooking the sugar and maple until warmed through and dissolved. When you spread the mixture on the baking sheet, try not to spread them too far apart so the sugar doesn’t burn and you can try baking them for less time to see how that works. Otherwise, this cake is just as pretty topped with lightly toasted seeds or a dusting of cinnamon 🙂

  2. I make this recipe year round, thank you! Do you have the nutrition facts by chance? Thank you!

    • Nice to hear! I don’t have that info, but a lot of food bloggers refer their community to My Fitness Pal.

  3. This is the best pumpkin cake I’ve ever made. Perfect texture and flavour.

    • Thank you, Laura! It’s so delicious.

  4. Made this lovely recipe a couple days ago and I love how light and airy it is! I ended up making it in a loaf pan and I can confirm that it came out perfect in 40 minutes 🙂

    • Oh, that’s great to know! I was worried that the extra time would cause the cake to burn.

  5. Excited to try this. It looks delicious! Can I substitute the brown sugar for coconut sugar? Or maple sugar?

    Thank You!

    • I’m not sure, but I think so. Haven’t tried either in the pumpkin seeds.

  6. Love this recipe! Perfect for fall!

    Do you think this could be easily adapted for a loaf?

    Thank you! 🙂

    • Glad you enjoyed it! I think it could be adapted for mini loaves or muffins. The reason I am wary of trying it as a large loaf is because almond flour burns easily and loaves take a long time.

      • Oh I didn’t think of that! I’ll do muffins instead. Thank you!

        • They’ll be delicious! They’ll probably cook in less time as muffins, so check after 20 minutes.

  7. Is it possible to make vegan?

    • I haven’t tried it without eggs, but if I were going to, I would try aquafaba first. Whip it with cream of tartar and fold it into the batter. I think 9 Tbs of aquafaba and 1/4 t cream of tartar.

  8. This is delicious!!!! It is so moist! We really enjoyed it and I plan to make it again!

    • Lovely!!

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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