Pumpkin Cake with Buttermilk and Orange

Pumpkin Cake with Buttermilk and Orange

Yield: 10 to 12  |  Total time: 1 hour
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photo by Jennifer McGovern

Pumpkin and orange with the tang of buttermilk come together in this super-moist cake.  Inspired from a Gourmet recipe on epicurious.com, I upped the spices and added orange juice and zest to the cake and the buttermilk icing.  It's hard to resist this warm out of the oven, but the flavors taste better after sitting a day or two.  Just reheat for a few seconds in the microwave and enjoy!  It's a great snack post-gym or for after-school munchies.  Note: The recipe calls for 1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin from a 15-ounce can.  That will leave you with about 2 tablespoons of leftover pumpkin.  I haven't tried this yet with the whole can of pumpkin as it is quite perfect as is, but it is annoying to have a a little bit of a can of anything left over.  Maybe stir it into a masala or a bowl of oatmeal.  Or, try the recipe with the full can and let us know how it works!

Photos by Jennifer McGovern.


For the Cake:

  • Juice and zest of 1 orange, divided*
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for greasing bundt pan
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting pan
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (from a 15-ounce can; not pie filling)
  • 3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs

For the Icing:

  • 3 tablespoons well-shaken buttermilk
  • *Zest and juice of 1/2 an orange, see above
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar


Make cake:

  1. Zest and juice 1 orange and set aside in separate bowls. 
  2. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 10-inch non-stick bundt pan generously, then dust with flour, knocking out excess.
  3. Whisk together flour (2 1/4 cups), baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together pumpkin, 3/4 cup buttermilk, and vanilla in another bowl.
  4. Beat butter (1 1/2 sticks) and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, then add eggs and beat 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and add flour and pumpkin mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until batter is just smooth.
  5. Spoon batter into pan, smoothing top, then bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then invert rack over cake and reinvert cake onto rack. Cool 10 minutes more before drizzling with icing.

Make icing:
While cake is cooling, whisk together buttermilk, remaining half of the orange juice, remaining half of the zest and confectioners sugar until smooth. Drizzle icing over warm cake, then cool cake completely. Icing will harden slightly.


Date Published: January 8, 2014

All recipes have been tested by the Test Kitchens unless otherwise noted.

4 comments... read them below or add one


  1. January 8, 2014 9:54 pm by stadtgarten Reply

    This sounds and looks absolutely delicious! I love pumpkin and I will try this cake!
    As we don’t have canned pumpkin here, how much would I need if I took fresh pumpkin and make the puree myself?
    Thanks a lot and have a good day, Monika

    • January 9, 2014 9:10 am by kim Reply

      Hi Monika,

      Thanks for your message. As for making the puree yourself, which would be good, if not better, I would think you would need about 1 pound of fresh pumpkin. I like to use the small-ish sugar pumpkins, cut it in quarters, remove seeds (good for roasting as well) and then roast in a 375-degree oven for about 30 minutes or until fork tender. I wouldn’t drizzle with any olive oil here since you want it as pure as possible. Then remove skins and puree the pulp in a food processor, blender or food mill. You can freeze as well. Let me know how it turns out.

  2. January 9, 2014 12:24 pm by Carrie Berg Reply

    I like how versatile this cake can be, you could serve at a formal brunch or share after family dinner. It’s flavorful without being too heavy on the spice. My seven year old son loves it and would eat it for three meals a day if I let him.

  3. January 9, 2014 1:20 pm by Jennifer Reply

    What pretty pictures! :) Love this cake, and so do my kiddos!

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