A few weeks ago, I stopped at Starbucks after dropping the kids off at school. I had missed my morning cup of joe at home, and a tall black coffee was exactly what this momma needed. The drive-thru line was especially long that morning, so I decided to park and go in, even in my current state: pj shirt, no makeup, and messy hair. Apparently, I wasn’t the only mom who missed her morning coffee, and makeup.

Sooo good! And no refined sugar, not even in the frosting. A whole grain pumpkin cake.

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Sooo good! And no refined sugar, not even in the frosting. A whole grain pumpkin cake.

Sooo good! And no refined sugar, not even in the frosting. A whole grain pumpkin cake.

As I stood in the shorter line inside the coffee shop, I couldn’t help but scan the pastries and cookies in front of me. Normally, I can scan the case and just keep going, but something caught my eye that morning (maybe it was a result of being mentally weak due to the lack of caffeine running through my veins): a pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting. A few minutes later, I left the coffee shop with my coffee in hand, feeling perky from the first few sips of caffeine, and excited for some fall baking.

Sooo good! And no refined sugar, not even in the frosting. A whole grain pumpkin cake.

Sooo good! And no refined sugar, not even in the frosting. A whole grain pumpkin cake.

I bought my first can of pumpkin later that afternoon, and began working on a real food pumpkin loaf cake with cream cheese frosting. I wanted a pumpkin cake with a quick-bread texture that was completely refined-sugar-free. Something that could be served with a cup of coffee, while wearing an over-sized comfy sweater, on a fall weekend.

We haven’t even come close to sweater weather in Florida, so, for now, coffee and a pumpkin loaf cake will keep my longing-for-fall heart happy. Maybe even a pumpkin spice latte and a slice of pumpkin loaf cake? Too much pumpkin too soon? Yea, let’s just stick with the cake today.

Sooo good! And no refined sugar, not even in the frosting. A whole grain pumpkin cake.

This Starbucks-inspired cake only requires one bowl and a handful of real food ingredients, like: spelt flour (a whole grain flour), real butter, pumpkin, applesauce (because pumpkin and apples go hand-in-hand), and maple syrup. The final product is a slightly-sweet pumpkin loaf cake that I can feel good about enjoying, and serving my family, for a weekend breakfast treat alongside a cup of home-brewed coffee.

Sooo good! And no refined sugar, not even in the frosting. A whole grain pumpkin cake.

One-Bowl Pumpkin Loaf Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
5 from 5 votes

Pumpkin Loaf Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

A slightly-sweet pumpkin loaf cake that I can feel good about enjoying, and serving my family, for a weekend breakfast treat alongside a cup of home-brewed coffee.
Kristin Marr
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time50 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 1 -10x7 baking dish or 1-9x13 baking dish
Calories 4004 kcal


Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese I like Organic Valley brand.
  • 6 TB butter room temperature
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract


  • Preheat the oven 350F.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and applesauce. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time--I whisk each egg for about 10 seconds. Add in the vanilla extract.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients: spelt flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine the ingredients.
  • Grease a baking dish (For a thicker loaf cake, like the one pictured, I used a 10x7 baking dish. For more of a cake bar--think: a short cake-- use an 9x13 baking dish.), or line the baking dish with parchment paper. Spread the batter in the baking dish, and then bake the cake for about 35-40 minutes (for a 10X7 baking dish), until the center is firm to touch. If you're using a 9x13 pan, you'll want to reduce this time to 25-30 minutes (start checking on the cake through the oven window at around the 20 minute mark). Allow the cake to fully cool before spreading the cream cheese frosting.
  • For the frosting, using an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter. Add the maple syrup and vanilla, and continue to beat until the mixture is smooth and "fluffy." Spread the cream cheese frosting over the cooled bars. Store any leftover bars in the fridge.


Calories: 4004kcalCarbohydrates: 402gProtein: 62gFat: 236gSaturated Fat: 136gCholesterol: 1106mgSodium: 4027mgPotassium: 2259mgFiber: 36gSugar: 205gVitamin A: 46145IUVitamin C: 11.6mgCalcium: 962mgIron: 18.3mg
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!

Ingredient Notes

This loaf cake isn’t super sweet, so it relies on the combo of frosting and the loaf cake to deliver the “full package” of a slightly sweet fall treat. I haven’t tried honey in this recipe, but my guess is that it may lend a sweeter taste–I’m just thinking out loud on this one. This cake is more of what I consider a brunch or “enjoyed with a cup of coffee and good friends on the weekend” kind of cake versus a super sweet dessert. Also, feel free to add more spice to this recipe–or even a touch of cinnamon (which is a spice in the pumpkin pie spice combo). There’s room to customize the spice flavor intensity in this recipe–just taste and modify as you go!

I’ve used both salted and unsalted Kerrygold butter in this recipe, and both have turned out just fine. So use what you have on hand.

This is another “I haven’t tried it, but it appears to be a good idea” note…I think this batter would turn into delicious muffins/cupcakes with the cream cheese frosting on top. Again, I haven’t tested this one, yet, but if you don’t want a giant loaf cake, then this may be an option. If you try it, let me know how it goes!

What’s Spelt Flour? 

Spelt is believed to have originated in the Near East over 8,000 years ago, eventually making its way into Europe, particularly Germany. The mildly-nutty tasting spelt berry is considered an ancient grain much like einkorn, and is even referenced in the Bible.  The spelt berry has not been hybridized like modern-day whole wheat. Spelt is sold in many conventional grocery stores, health food stores, and online.

Spelt has a lower gluten content than today’s whole wheat, making it easier to digest. Spelt is not gluten-free and should not be used by those with celiac disease or a severe gluten intolerance.

Sooo good! And no refined sugar, not even in the frosting. A whole grain pumpkin cake.

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  1. Hi! Love this recipe, but do you have any egg substitute suggestions? My kids and I all are allergic to them. I’ve gone from using gluten-free flours to using just Einkorn and Spelt so I’m so happy to find your blog with recipes using those flours! Thanks!!

  2. Would you be able tonuse einkorm flour in this? I just bought some to try, but haven’t figured what to cook with it. I have never use einkorn before.

    1. Hey Maria, Almond flour doesn’t work as a substitute for grains that contain the gluten protein (like spelt). So that sub won’t work. You could try all-purpose flour in place of the spelt.

  3. 5 stars
    I was looking to replicate a cake made by a local bakery and this recipe had the same ingredients. I used homegrown butternut squash for pumpkin and 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom for spice. I substituted 1/2 cup of whipping cream for butter in the frosting and mixed till light and fluffy. Cake and frosting are scrumptious and plenty sweet. A friend has already asked for the recipe. Definitely a keeper.

  4. 5 stars
    Looks fantastic. I will try to make for Christmas with GF flour… hopefully it works.
    Thanks for another great recipe!

    Have a great day,

  5. Hi, Kristin! I made this today and it was amazing! I was afraid that it would come out too dense because of the spelt flour, which I’ve never used before, but it didn’t. It was perfectly moist. And the cream cheese frosting had just the right amount of sweetness. I could eat the whole cake in one sitting, lol! This recipe is definitely a keeper. Great job!

  6. 5 stars
    Made this last night, and it was all gone by breakfast !! It was absolutely delicious 🙂 I didn’t make the frosting (trying to cut back on the calories), but followed your recommendation to use honey (1/4 cup honey and 1/3 sugar) and found that it was perfectly sweet. I also substituted the butter for coconut oil and used whole wheat flour instead of the spelt (still used 1, 3/4 cups). My family will definitely be making this again!

    1. Hey Nancy, That’s so great to hear! I’m so glad everyone loved the loaf cake. Thank you for sharing the adjustments you made, too. That’s so helpful for future recipe creators :).

  7. Made this today and everyone enjoyed it, even my husband who’s not a huge fan of pumpkin or cream cheese. I used white wheat flour and it turned out beautifully.
    Love this blog, it has been a huge help as we are striving to make better food choices. Thank you!

  8. 5 stars
    This was so delicious and moist! I made it with the Einkorn flour, increasing the flour to 2 cups. Everyone enjoyed it including adults, teens and, and my 6-year-old!

  9. Can I use a gluten free flour blend? Also, what could I use in place of the applesauce? I can’t use anything fruit or coconut related.

    1. Hey Diana, I’m not 100% sure the gluten-free flour blend will work, but, in theory, it should work as a substitute. You could try replacing the applesauce with more butter. Let me know how it goes!

  10. ooo, can’t wait to try it! Do you think Einkorn flour will work? It’s what I have on hand at the moment. Or another flour? I have every flour in my pantry except for Spelt. 🙂 Thanks!