I used two similar recipes to make this super easy and delicious pumpkin cake that you can quickly whip up and take to your last minute Halloween party! Although both of these recipes are called "bars" I think this is definitely cake and needs to be served with a fork and plate! The first recipe calls for whole wheat pastry flour but I used 2 cups all purpose flour because that's what I had on hand! However, I did use 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce because I wanted to see if the cake would still be moist: It works! Super moist and delicious cake.
The frosting is a cream cheese/butter frosting that incorporates Kahlua liqueur with instant espresso powder to create a delicious coffee & cream flavor that pairs so well with the moist pumpkin cake and adds a little unexpected flavor twist. The recipes call for different sized pans but I used a 9" x 13" pan and baked for 30 minutes. The cooled cake is frosted and dusted with ground cinnamon then I added some little pumpkin candies for a festive finishing touch. Here is how you can make your own.
There are two recipes that I used to make this cake: first recipe and second recipe. I used a 9" x 13" baking pan, sprayed with Pam and lined the bottom with parchment just to make sure the cake would release easily. Set prepared pan aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Batter: In a medium bowl whisk together 2 cups all purpose flour (or 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour), baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon and I added 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice for a little extra flavor. Set aside. Combine whisked eggs, sugar, pumpkin, 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (or just 1 cup vegetable oil) in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Beat until well blended, approximately 3 minutes. Turn mixer to low speed and beat in the flour mixture until batter is well combined, around 1 minute. Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let cake cool completely before frosting.
Frosting: When cake is completely cooled, start the frosting. Microwave 3 Tablespoons of Kahlua Liqueur for around 30 seconds or until it comes to a boil. Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons of instant espresso powder until completely dissolved. Set mixture aside to cool completely. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the butter until smooth then beat in the cream cheese until combined. Beat in the sifted powdered sugar until combined and smooth.
Beat in the Kahlua mixture and mix until combined. Spread frosting over cooled pumpkin cake. Dust the top with ground cinnamon and score the pieces lightly with a knife: 6 across and 4 down. Place a candy pumpkin in the center of each square and refrigerate cake until frosting is set, approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour. Cut chilled cake into squares and serve. Covered frosted cake will keep in the fridge for up to a week and can be frozen for up to a month – Remove lid when thawing to prevent soggy cake and frosting.