This pumpkin spice cake combines traditional fall flavors with a decadent lemon cream cheese frosting. Credit: Courtesy of Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

This story was originally published in October 2021.

One year the compost pile sprouted a couple of pumpkin vines. One yielded pumpkins big enough for jack-o’-lanterns, the other produced seven pie pumpkins. A lucky thing because the two hills of pumpkins I planted on purpose produced only two, still green by mid-October, struggling to ripen before frost. The compost pile pumpkins, glowing a deep orange, proved useful, and inspired the recipe that follows.

I hankered for a spice cake that used pumpkin. I crossed up the oil, butter, sugar, buttermilk and pulp mixture from a favorite zucchini cake with the flour and spice combination from a favorite spice cake and came up with a sheet cake to frost with lemony cream cheese icing.

One pie pumpkin ought to make one pie, or when cooked produce about two cups of pureed pulp. I ended up with about one and three-quarters of a cup, which is just a tad less than a standard 15-ounce can of prepared pumpkin. A couple of tablespoons one way or another makes so little difference that I don’t worry about it.

You may already know that if you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can substitute soured milk, obtained by adding a few drops of vinegar to regular milk. For the amount needed below, add a half teaspoon of vinegar to the one-third cup of whole milk.

Give this a try, and if you have a pumpkin cake you like better, and don’t mind sharing, send the recipe along.

P.S. Shortly after the curried summer squash and corn soup appeared here in the Bangor Daily News, I heard from Sue Aldrich in Belfast, who wrote, “Tried the soup recipe … and we all liked it. Maybe next year when the summer squash is in surplus, I’ll double the recipe size.” Then she went on to comment on the zucchini soup recipe that we offered here in 2018, saying, “What I do with excess [squash] supply, is make the recipe through puree or immersion blender [stage] … then freeze without cream cheese. No problem. Looks a little watery upon thawing, but once heated and cream cheese is added to melt, no taste difference.”

What a good idea!

Pumpkin Spice Cake

Makes one 9-inch-by-13-inch cake.

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1½ teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon cloves

¼ cup butter

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup dark brown sugar, tightly packed

½ cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

1½ to 1¾ cups pumpkin puree

1/3 cup buttermilk

Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease and flour a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pan or line with parchment paper.

Sift together flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and the spices. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream together butter and granulated and brown sugars.

Add and beat in oil and eggs.

Mix in pumpkin.

Add the dry ingredients to the bowl of wet ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk, and mix enough to make a smooth batter.

Pour batter into the baking pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a tester inserted comes out clean.

For serving, dust with confectioner’s sugar, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar or frost with your favorite cream cheese frosting.

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...