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How To Ace Thanksgiving Dessert With This Grain-Free Pumpkin Cake Recipe

By Pamela Salzman

It wouldn’t be the season without at least one dish that is pumpkin-flavored, am I right? And let me tell you, there will be no need to light your favorite pumpkin-flavored candle for your next dinner party after you prepare this amazing grain-free pumpkin cake. While fall is still here (and winter is visible on the horizon), delight your guests with the perfect fall staple – pumpkin cake. We promise there will be guaranteed satisfaction.



2 cups fine blanched almond flour (not almond meal)

½ cup cassava flour, arrowroot powder, or tapioca flour

2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder (look for grain-free baking powder if necessary) 

½ teaspoon baking soda 

¾ teaspoon sea salt

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon*

¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ cup melted unrefined virgin coconut oil or olive oil + more for greasing the pan

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling) or half a 15-ounce can

½ cup pure maple syrup or honey

2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Optional add-ins:  currants, raisins or diced dates, chopped pecans


8 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature (dairy or dairy-free)

3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup 

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (omit for a basic frosting)

Candied Pumpkin Seeds:

Unrefined coconut oil or unsalted butter for greasing 

1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

pinch of sea salt

¼ cup hulled pumpkin seeds


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease an 8-inch or 9-inch cake pan, preferably a springform pan. Line the bottom with a piece of unbleached parchment paper, if desired.
  2. Place all cake ingredients, except optional add-ins, in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the standard metal blade or in a blender.  Process until well combined and smooth. 
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula.
  4. Bake in the middle of the oven for 35-45 minutes or until the cake is lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean. Baking time will depend on your oven as well as the size pan you use. Cool for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pan, remove the cake and cool on a cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.  Cake can be made several days ahead and kept in the refrigerator, well-wrapped.  Bring to room temp before serving. -over-
  5. Prepare the frosting:  beat together cream cheese, syrup and cinnamon until smooth.  If using dairy cream cheese, it is helpful to use an electric mixer.  You can use a whisk for dairy-free cream cheese.  Frosting can be made a few days ahead and kept refrigerated.
  6. Prepare the candied pumpkin seeds:  Preheat oven or toaster oven to 375 degrees.  Line a small baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and lightly grease the paper.  
  7. In a small saucepan, whisk together the maple syrup, brown sugar and salt over medium heat.  Stirring constantly, cook until mixture is foamy, about 2 minutes. Stir in pumpkin seeds and toss to coat.  Quickly spread out mixture on prepared parchment.  Bake for 10 minutes, turning after 5 minutes.  (Check early if your oven runs hot.) Remove from the oven to cool at room temperature where they will harden.  Candied seeds can be prepared several days in advance.

*Or use 2 ½ teaspoons of your favorite pumpkin pie spice instead of all four individual spices.

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