This gluten free spice cake with pumpkin frosting is dense, moist, and full of the comforting flavors you'd expect from a fall dessert! The cake has an almond flour base that's sweetened with honey while the frosting uses fresh pumpkin and coconut for a delicious and creamy topping. This recipe is SCD, Paleo, gluten free, grain free, dairy free, and refined sugar free.
I've been trying to come up with a good alternative to a traditional pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. While I LOVE a good pumpkin pie, not everyone feels the same and it's nice to have different dessert options!
I wanted to create a fall dessert with ALL the seasonal flavors, and this gluten free spice cake really exceeded my expectations! The cake is dense and moist while the pumpkin frosting is incredibly creamy with a beautiful, slightly orange tint.
The combination of spices from the cake and sweetness from the frosting make an absolutely heavenly Autumn cake!
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Spice cake ingredients
- blanched finely ground almond flour
- baking soda
- sea salt
- ground cinnamon
- ground ginger
- coconut oil (melted but NOT hot)
- vanilla extract
- lemon juice
- dairy free milk (coconut, almond, cashew, or walnut milk all work)
For the best texture and consistency, make sure to use blanched finely ground almond flour. NOT ALMOND MEAL!
I've made this cake numerous times with ALL the milk options listed above and didn't notice any significant changes in flavor, so I suggest using your fav!
If using canned coconut milk for the cake batter, make sure to shake the can well before opening.
how to make the gluten free spice cake
Begin by whisking together the honey, eggs, coconut oil, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and milk in a large bowl, then set aside (photos 1 & 2).
In a separate bowl whisk together the dry ingredients, making sure to break up any clumps from the almond flour and spices (photo 3).
Use your fingers to spread the flour mixture and make a hole in the center of the bowl (photo 4). Pour the wet ingredients into the hole and begin to whisk until well incorporated (photo 5). The batter will be very thick (photo 6).
Evenly scoop the batter into two 6" greased and lined round cake pans (photo 7). Use a spatula to smooth the top of the batter before placing on the middle rack in the oven to bake.
The cakes are done when lightly browned, firm to the touch with just the tiniest hint of give, and a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean.
Allow the cake to rest in the cake pans for fifteen minutes before running a knife between the pan and cake and turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely (photos 8 & 9).
Gluten Free Spice Cake Notes:
- This cake can also be baked as a single layer cake in either an 8x8 square pan or 9" round pan. However, it will take longer to bake. Tent the cake with foil if you notice the top of the cake becoming too brown.
- The batter can also be made using a stand mixer, just take care not to over mix.
Pumpkin Frosting Ingredients
- Spectrum Shortening (I've tried the Nutiva brand in the past and don't love the end result)
- coconut cream
- canned pumpkin
- ground cinnamon
- vanilla extract
Let's talk about coconut cream. To get coconut cream, place a can full fat canned coconut milk in the back of your refrigerator overnight or longer (if you're a regular reader then you know I LOVE the Native Forest brand).
Remove the can from the fridge, careful not to turn it, and open. The hardened coconut on top is the cream that you'll use for the frosting!
If using canned pumpkin, be sure the only ingredient listed on the can is pumpkin! Don't accidentally purchase pumpkin pie filling as it has a host of spices and other ingredients added to it.
Note: I do have a Pumpkin Italian Meringue Buttercream frosting that is also AMAZING on this cake. However, it is a more time consuming recipe.
how to make the pumpkin frosting
Place the frosting ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed until all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.
If the frosting looks a bit curdled with streaky bits of pumpkin, keep mixing!
The frosting is done once it's light, fluffy, smooth, and a very light orange-y yellow color. Take a taste and feel free to adjust the sweetness or add additional spices to your liking!
Assembling the spice cake
Once the gluten free spice cakes have completely cooled, place a little dollop of frosting in the center of a plate or cake stand, then place one of the cakes on top. Put frosting in the middle of the cake and spread evenly.
Repeat with the second cake. Use the remainder of the frosting to decorate the sides of the cake. You can even get a little fancy here and pipe some decor along the top like I did.
I took things a step farther and added chopped walnuts along with a generous drizzle of my homemade salted caramel sauce!
I just don't think I can properly express how much I am in LOVE with this fall cake! Hope you enjoy it as much as my family and I do!
Try these other Autumn desserts!
If you’ve made this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and star rating below!
This recipe was originally posted in October 2017. The recipe was slightly changed in October 2019 along with the text and photos.
Gluten Free Spice Cake with Pumpkin Frosting
- 3 cups almond flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 2 Tbsp coconut oil melted but not hot
- ½ cup honey I recommend a light, sweet honey
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup dairy free milk (coconut, almond, cashew, or walnut milk will all work)
- coconut oil for greasing pans
- parchment paper to line bottom of pans
- 1 cup spectrum vegetable shortening I like the results from this brand best
- ¼ cup coconut cream
- ½ cup honey
- ⅓ cup pumpkin puree NOT pumpkin pie filling
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 325F. Use coconut oil to grease bottom and sides of two 6" baking pans. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Combine all wet ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate large bowl mix all the dry ingredients, making sure to break up any clumps from the almond flour and spices.
- Use your fingers to make a small hole in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the hole and whisk until all of the ingredients are well incorporated. The batter should be fairly thick.
- Evenly distribute the batter among the prepared pans and use a spatula to smooth the top of the batter.
- Place the cake pans on the middle rack in the oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes. The cakes should be lightly browned, firm to the touch with a bit of give, and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes should come out clean.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before carefully running a clean knife around the inside of the pans to loosen the cake. Turn out onto a cooling rack. Frost the cakes once completely cooled.
- Place all of the frosting ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- The frosting will look a bit curdled at first. Keep mixing until the frosting is fluffy, smooth, and the pumpkin has completely incorporated into the frosting.
- Optional: Cut a few squares from wax paper and place around the outer edge of your plate/cake stand. This allows you to decorate without worrying about getting your plate full or frosting. Pull the wax paper out from the bottom of the cake when finished decorating.
- Place the first cake in the center of your cake stand or plate and evenly spread the frosting on top. Place the second cake on top of the first and evenly spread frosting along the top and sides of the cake.
- Optional: Place any leftover frosting in a piping bag and pipe pretty decor along the top of the cake. You can also sprinkle chopped nuts on top and/or drizzle caramel sauce.
- Store the cake covered in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
- The frosting is best made the day you're planning on decorating the cake. However, once the cake is frosted it holds up nicely in the refrigerator.
- If you prefer a buttercream frosting, try this Pumpkin Italian Meringue Buttercream on the spice cake.
- Although drizzling caramel sauce on the cake is optional, I HIGHLY recommend it. It's delicious and adds another layer flavor!