I’ve been waxing poetic about the merits of gooey butter cake for years. It’s not something you see on many menus or at many bakeries…and I can’t understand why. I started experimenting with gooey butter cake recipes back in 2010, and I’ve tried many different takes over the years. Earlier this year I made this Biscoff Gooey Butter Cake, declaring it my favorite version yet.
But now…there’s a new contender for that title. This Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake is truly something else. The top is similar to pumpkin pie: soft, perfectly spiced, comforting. The bottom is cakey, with a slight layer of goo between the cake and pumpkin layers. It all adds up to an awesome flavor combo, and textural mix.
This recipe was inspired by a couple of recipes I kept seeing in my Pinterest feed. I loved the idea of pumpkin gooey butter cake—but didn’t want to follow those actual recipes. They used cake mix for the bottom layer, and I prefer to make my own cake instead.
So: I combined bits and pieces from a couple recipes. The bottom layer comes from the same Butter Baking recipe I used for my Biscoff-flavored version, and the top pumpkin layer came from Averie Cooks. If you want to use a cake mix on the bottom instead of making your own cake, just follow Averie’s original recipe and use spiced cake mix.
Note that the bottom layer bakes faster than the top pumpkin layer, so make sure to keep an eye on your oven and take the take out when the edges are set. The center will still be jiggly, but will firm up as the cake cools.
Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake
Yield: 36 bars
Suggested equipment: Mixer
Total Time: 1.5 hours, but I recommend tacking a few more hours on to let the bars cool completely before you cut them.
Cook Time: ~45 minutes
- 2 cups plain flour
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 8 oz of cream cheese, softened
- 15 oz of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling!)
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I used this recipe)
- 1/2 tsp salt
Make your cake layer
- Pre-heat your oven to 350F
- Mix your flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl
- Add your egg, butter, milk and vanilla, then stir until it’s just combined
- Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper, leaving a little extra hanging on the sides so it’s easy to pull out your cake later
- The mix will look like a dough at this point. Put it in your pan and use your hands to spread it around so it makes an even layer. (See the first couple pics below for reference)
Make your pumpkin layer
- Use your mixer to beat your cream cheese and pumpkin until it’s smooth. This can get pretty messy, so I suggest using your mixer cover if you have one!
- Add the eggs, vanilla and butter, then beat until it’s all smooth again
- Add your powdered sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Beat until ingredients are totally incorporated. You’ll need to scrape down the bowl a few times to get there
- Pour the pumpkin mixture on top of your cake layer
- Bake for 43-48 minutes (mine took 45). When it’s done, the edges will be set—but your center will look a bit jiggly. Resist the urge to bake longer, because you’ll start to burn your cake! Rest assured that the cake will set up more as it cools
- Let the cake cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes or so. After that, I throw mine in the fridge so it’s easier to cut. Note that if you do put your cake in the fridge, you’ll want to allow time for it to return to room temp before serving. This usually works out just fine for me because I tend to take it out in the morning, and serve later in the day. But if you’re short on time, skip the fridge step—just make sure the bars are fully cooled before you cut them so you get cleaner cuts.
These bars kept nicely in a covered container for a few days. You could also store them in a fridge for up to 5 days.