Pumpkin Cake Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Yield: 4 dozen 2" squares, or 3 dozen 2" x 3" bars

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These cake-type bars are moist and delicious, similar to carrot cake but with a fall flavor. The rich cream cheese frosting will also remind you of carrot cake — which isn't a bad thing! Do toast the walnuts before using them; toasting brings out their nutty essence.

Pumpkin Cake Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

star rating (40) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: 4 dozen 2" squares, or 3 dozen 2" x 3" bars
Published: 09/09/2014

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice, or 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon each ginger, nutmeg, and cloves
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup golden raisins, or 1/2 cup golden raisins and 1/2 cup ginger mini-chips

Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup toasted walnut pieces

Tips from our bakers

  • To toast nuts, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in a 350°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes, just until you can start to smell them; let cool before using.
  • Want to make this recipe in a 9" x 13" pan? Change the amounts of ingredients as follows: 2/3 cup vegetable oil, 2/3 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 3 large eggs, 2/3 cup pumpkin purée, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder, 3/8 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, 1 1/3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, 1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts, 2/3 cup golden raisins/ginger mini chips. Bake as directed in the original recipe. For the frosting, reduce ingredients as follows: 4 ounces cream cheese, 2 tablespoons softened butter, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar, pinch of salt, 1/2 cup diced toasted walnuts.
  • To make a gluten-free version of this recipe, substitute King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour for the all-purpose flour in the original. For the 18" x 13" version, add 2 large eggs and 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum. For the 9" x 13" version, add 1 large egg and 3/8 teaspoon xanthan gum. Once everything is combined, let the batter rest in the bowl for 15 minutes before pouring it into the pan and baking.

Directions

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1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a large rimmed half-sheet pan, about 18" x 13"; or line the pan with greased parchment. Note: to make these bars in a 9" x 13" pan, see "tips," below left.

2) Beat the oil and the sugars together until well blended.

3) Beat in the eggs, then the pumpkin purée.

4) Stir the baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spice into the wet ingredients, then stir in the flour, beating gently to combine.

5) Stir in the nuts and raisins/ginger.

6) Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

7) Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it onto a rack to finish cooling; or leave it right in the pan, if you've lined the pan with parchment.

8) To make the frosting: Beat the cream cheese and butter together.

9) Beat in the maple syrup, then mix in the confectioners' sugar and salt. Adjust the consistency of the frosting with additional maple syrup or confectioners' sugar, if necessary; it should be nicely spreadable.

10) Frost the bars and sprinkle with the toasted walnuts. Once the frosting has set somewhat, cut into squares or rectangles.

Yield: 4 dozen 2" squares, or 3 dozen 2" x 3" bars.

Reviews

1 234  All  
  • star rating 03/23/2015
  • Pat from North Grafton, Massachusetts
  • Great recipe !! Make these all the time, very moist and delicious. Love King Authur recipes!
  • star rating 12/31/2014
  • jaudin from KAF Community
  • So very excellent! I use regular raisins since I don't keep the golden in the pantry. I've made both the 9 x 13 pan and full half sheet pan sizes. If there is any cake left after the party it keeps well in a sealed container.
  • star rating 12/08/2014
  • BonJon from Raleigh
  • Almost don't want to rate this - because I didn't get but just a crumb off the knife! Somehow left out the last egg, used home roasted pumpkin, a bit of candied ginger and butterscotch chips. I think these were undercooked, they were so soft and moist. Made in 2 9x13 pans for 2 events. Both groups gave rave reviews. Used just a scooch more spice than listed of very fresh Pumpkin Pie spice (Savory Spice Shop), put in a pinch of cardamom for luck : it had plenty of flavor. Any other suggestions on toasting walnuts? Did as directed but I used my nuts straight from freezer and they never had a smell or scent after 16 minutes = to me they tasted burned.
  • star rating 11/12/2014
  • from
  • star rating 10/31/2014
  • Pat from Ma
  • Great recipe! Made 1/2 recipe in 9x13 pan. Put in butterscotch chips and golden raisins , really wonderful . Thanks for the recipe it's a keeper.
  • star rating 10/20/2014
  • Carla from Denver, CO
  • I made these exactly as written..didn't even adjust for high altitude. They were perfect. this recipe just replaced my old pumpkin bar recipe. Absolutely a keeper!!
  • star rating 10/19/2014
  • Hubblecat from Baltimore
  • Thanks to those reviewers who reported their results making this recipe into cupcakes! I prep'd the batter using golden raisins and KA cinnamon chips, then split in half. To one half I added 1/4C toasted walnuts; to the other half I added nothing. I baked the 22 muffins at 325F for 22 minutes, cooled, then frosted with the scrumptious cream cheese/maple syrup frosting. I topped the cupcakes with the walnuts inside with additional toasted nuts. I brought these to a chili cook-off and several attendees wanted to vote for the cupcakes instead of the chili! It was nice to have nut-free cupcakes for those with nut allergies and the youngsters.
  • star rating 10/13/2014
  • ljll from birmingham
  • star rating 10/13/2014
  • Melinda from Indiana
  • I made these without raisins or nuts (didn't have any) but used the dried fruit mix instead. I brought them to work and they were re-named "pumpkin bliss". They were wonderful and definitely a keeper!
1 234  All  
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