Vegan Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple Frosting

If you follow me on social media you may have seen me post pictures of my Pumpkin Spice cake a few weeks ago. It was my winning entry in the grand final of our office bake-off. The theme was “Halloween” and Pumpkin Spice seemed like the perfect choice of flavour. After all who doesn’t think of carved pumpkin lanterns as soon as Halloween is mentioned? Not to mention the lovely warming flavours from cinnamon and ginger that are perfect at this time of year.

I had considered using my existing Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake recipe for the competition, as I already knew it would be a hit on the flavour front. However, I work in an office with a lot of vegans and didn’t want them to miss out, so a bit of a recipe rework was required. Could I make a cake that had the perfect combination of moistness and crumbly texture without using eggs?

The week before the final I tried several different egg-replacement options to see which would give me the right texture. The first three attempts did not go well. I’d previously had success using apple sauce in my Vegan Cherry Bakewell Cake, but here it made the cake too moist and unpleasantly dense. Folding in whipped aquafaba succeeded in lightening the mixture before it went into the oven, but what came out was little more than a greasy, rubbery pancake. The closest to acceptable was a version that used plant milk in place of the eggs, but it still wasn’t right.

The final attempt was very much my last resort: the addition of a “flax egg”. It’s a combination of ground flax seeds and very hot water, which I’ve seen recommended in many vegan cake recipes. Up until now it has been something I’ve avoided as it felt like a bit too much effort. Especially as I’m not a vegan myself… However, based on the effect it had on the structure of the cake I think I might a convert. I still don’t entirely understand how the flax egg worked, but it does and that’s more than good enough for me!

So I had the perfect cake…now it needed the perfect frosting. My previous Pumpkin Spice cakes have often been paired with a cinnamon cream cheese frosting. Here I wanted to have a sweeter contrast to the spices in the cake so opted for a Maple Syrup buttercream instead. Boy am I glad I did as it was both delicious and addictive! Indeed, I had to wash the mixing bowl up as soon as I’d finished decorating the cake to stop me from eating the leftovers…

I made the cake shown in the photos for Michael’s office, so that he and his colleagues didn’t feel left out of the baking fun. As you can see I decorated it with a few of the leftover fondant pumpkins from my bake off entry, but it tastes just as nice without them 🙂

Indeed, what more could you want than a rich, moist Pumpkin Spice cake covered in a generous layer of sweet Maple Buttercream. Well ok, maybe a nice cup of tea or coffee and a cosy chair to complete the autumnal experience. Tell you what, I’ll provide the recipe and leave the atmospheric accessories up to you.

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple Buttercream

This moist-yet-crumbly vegan cake has the perfect combination of texture and flavour, thanks to generous amounts of pumpkin purée and warming spices. It's topped off with a decadent maple buttercream that brings the perfect amount of sweetness to every mouthful.
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Baking, Dessert
Cuisine: Baking, Cakes, Dessert
Servings: 12
Calories: 422kcal


For the Pumpkin Spice Cake

  • tsp Flaxseed
  • tsp Water from a recently boiled kettle
  • 425 g Pumpkin Purée
  • 60 ml Vegetable Oil
  • 225 g Soft Light Brown Sugar
  • 175 g Caster Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tbsp Cider Vinegar
  • 325 g Plain Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • tsp Ground Mixed Spice
  • ½ tsp Ground Ginger
  • ½ tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp Salt

For the Maple Buttercream

  • 100 g Vegetable Shortening or Vegan Margarine
  • 200 g Icing Sugar
  • 2 tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 1 tbsp Plant Milk I used Almond Milk


Make the Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line the base of two 20cm round sandwich tins with greaseproof baking paper.
  • Grind the flaxseed into a coarse powder. If you have a spice grinder or small food processor you can use that, but I find that a pestle and mortar to be much more effective. Grinding it by hand also gives you more control over the texture, which is important as you don’t want it as a fine powder. When ground put into a small bowl and add the hot water and stir together. Put to one side to allow the mixture to thicken.
  • Put the pumpkin purée into a large bowl. Add the vegetable oil and stir until fully incorporated into the pumpkin. Add in the two different types of sugar and stir again until fully mixed. Finally pour in the vanilla extract and cider vinegar and give the mixture one final mix.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and spices together into a second bowl, ensuring that they’re well mixed.
  • Add the wet ingredient mixture to the flour mixture, then fold together with a spatula. Don’t overwork the mixture – you only need to carefully stir until the two mixtures are combined and no patches of dry flour remain.
  • Pour in the flaxseed and water mixture, then stir once more to distribute through the cake batter.
  • Divide the cake mixture between the two prepared cake tins. Spread it out to the edges using the spatula, ensuring the top of the mixture is level.
  • Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean.
  • When cooked remove from the oven and place onto a wire rack to cool. Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for 10-15 minutes, before turning them out to cool completely.

Make the Buttercream

  • Put the shortening or margarine into a large bowl or food mixer. Beat on a high speed for a couple of minutes until soft, light and fluffy.
  • Sift in around a quarter of the icing sugar, then beat on a low speed until incorporated. Beat on a high speed for 30 seconds to give the frosting a fluffy texture. Repeat this process with the remaining icing sugar until you have a light and fluffy frosting.
  • Beat the maple syrup into the buttercream, adding the plant milk to loosen the texture as needed.
  • Don’t add the buttercream to the cakes until they’re totally cool. Use around one third to top one of the cakes, then sandwich with the second cake. Use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of both cakes.
  • Add any additional decoration, then enjoy.


Estimated Values per Serving
of which Saturates3g
of which Sugars54g
Note: Nutritional information shown is per serving of the above recipe. Any side dishes or garnishes shown in photos are not included in these values, unless they are specifically listed as part of the recipe.

Scott Silverthorn

Hi, I’m Scott. I love cooking food and I love eating it - both useful credentials for writing a food blog! I get a lot of joy from sharing my passion with my friends and family, so here's hoping you enjoy it too.

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