Vegan Pumpkin Cake and Fluffy Dairy-Free Macadamia Mallow Frosting

Today I’m introducing you to my Pumpkin Cake from LTEV – and my Fluffy Macadamia Mallow Frosting.  I think it’s time you two get better acquainted.  I figure since so many readers are emailing and tagging me on facebook about this cake… and since I am feeling like giving away a few things (hint, hint, stay tuned!)… I am sharing this MOST delicious cake and frosting recipe for your holiday parties!

Before getting to the recipe, I must mention that this cake has become my own personal go-to cake in the past couple of years.  I will always choose it when (1) it’s seasonal and (2) the guests (or recipient) loves pumpkin.  As with ALL my recipes in LTEV, this cake is made without ANY white flour.  It uses whole-grain spelt flour, and also a minimal amount of oil.  The frosting isn’t sugary/sickly, but rather creamy delicious… the stuff frosting dreams are made of!

If you have LTEV, you will recognize this photo below of the same cake recipe.  This was taken by Hannah Kaminsky, and that particular shot we chose the “Cooked Vanilla Frosting” for the cake.

Pumpkin Cake by Dreena Burton #vegan


In the photos I’ve taken, we have the Fluffy Macadamia Mallow Frosting. See???  It really is fluffy and fabulous! :)

Enjoy the cake, and stay tuned for more goodies – including a sneak peek of a few of the photos of the “Plant-Powered 13” holiday bonus recipes!  What’s that?  Check out the details here.  Thanks to those of you that jumped in on the offer already, you will soon be able to enjoy: Pumpkin Seed and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Breakfast Bars, Almond Zen Granola, Green Goddess Dressing, Creamy House Dressing, Black Bean Soup with Sweet Potatoes, ‘Sweet’ Balls (don’t be fooled, these are savory not sweet!), Presto Pistachio Pasta, Macnificent, Sticky Almond Blondies, Coconutty Cookies… and a few more!  All these new recipes are made without ANY processed vegan substitutes, without ANY white stuff, and are also oil-free (but don’t worry, flavor is NOT sacrificed)!


Pumpkin Cake soy-free, wheat-free RECIpage link to print/share

This cake is a new family favorite. Moist and just lightly spiced with traditional pumpkin pie spices, it is absolutely ideal for an autumnal party or birthday, or as part of a Thanksgiving menu. But it is so delicious, you may want to make it other times of the year!

2 ¼ cups sifted (or light) spelt flour (see note)

1/2 cup + 2-4 tbsp unrefined sugar (see note)

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp sea salt

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/8 tsp allspice

Few pinches ground cloves (about 1/16 tsp)

¾ cup pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix; see note for oil-free)

1 cup plain or vanilla non-dairy milk (see note for oil-free)

¼ cup pure maple syrup

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ cup neutral-flavored oil (or another 3 tbsp of pumpkin puree mixed with 2-3 tbsp milk, see note)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil two 8-inch round cake pans, and line the bottom of each with parchment paper, if desired.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves, sifting in the baking powder and baking soda. Mix well.  In a separate bowl, whisk the pumpkin puree with the milk, maple syrup, vanilla, and lemon juice. Add the wet mixture to the dry, along with the oil, and mix until just incorporated.  Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Bake for 24 to 27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and let cool in pans on a cooling rack.

If This Apron Could Talk: To adapt this cake to cupcakes, line about 20 compartments of a muffin tin and fill about halfway with the batter. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 16 to 18 minutes (test with a toothpick). Also, because this batter is quite healthful, the cupcakes can double as muffins. You can add chopped walnuts or pecans to the batter to make the muffins a little heartier, and fill the liners a little fuller, if you like, than you would for cupcakes (in this case, bake a minute or two longer).

Savvy Subs and Adds: If you’d like to use wheat flour in this recipe, you can substitute 2 cups (with a light hand measuring that second cup) of whole wheat pastry flour.  I like this batter with the 1⁄2 cup + 2 tablespoons of sugar. But if you want it just a touch sweeter, add the extra 2 tablespoons of sugar. If frosting this cake with the Fluffy Macadamia Mallow Frosting, try topping with a sprinkling of chopped, toasted macadamia nuts. As this cake is slightly reminiscent of a carrot cake, you might opt to use another frosting (such as the No-Butter Cream Frosting, and add a few tablespoons of raisins and/or chopped toasted walnuts to the batter.

Oil-Free Note: If you’d like to make this oil-free, use another 3 tbsp of pumpkin puree mixed with another 3 tbsp of milk.


Fluffy Macadamia Mallow Frosting gluten-free, soy-free  RECIpage link to print/share

This frosting has become one of my all-time favorites. It be- comes thick and mallowy, and just slightly sweet. Really, I can eat it with a spoon. Truth be told, I usually stow enough away in the fridge so I can do just that! This recipe makes enough to frost one single-layer cake, so be sure to double the recipe for a double-layer cake or for twenty-four cupcakes.

1/2 cup + 2-5 tbsp cream from can of regular coconut milk (cream only, refrigerate overnight before using)

1/8 tsp sea salt

1/2 – ¾ cup powdered sugar (use an unrefined sugar and blend into a powder, see note)

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out (see PPP Tips, p.<>)

2 ½ – 3 tbsp macadamia nut butter (see note)

¼ – 1/2 tsp xanthan gum

Open the chilled can of coconut milk, without shaking or otherwise tipping much. You want to keep the cream solids as separate from the watery liquid as possible. Use a spoon to scoop out the thick cream into the bowl of a stand mixer (see note). You will get about 1⁄2 cup plus 2 to 4 tablespoons (see note). Get as much thick cream as you can without diluting it with the watery liquid sitting underneath. With the wire whip attachment, whip the cream at high speed for a minute or two, until it thickens and becomes fluffy. Then add the salt, sugar, vanilla seeds, and macadamia butter, and slowly bring the mixer to a high speed again to incorporate.  Stop the mixer, add the xanthan gum, and mix slowly to incorporate. Then whisk again at high speed for 30 seconds or so, until thickened (this will thicken more with chilling).  Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. This frosting keeps for several days without deflating.  Makes 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups.

If This Apron Could Talk: You really need a mixer for this recipe. Don’t try whisking by hand; the speed of the mixer is essential for whipping the thick, separated coconut milk.

Ingredients 411: Depending on how much thick cream you extracted from the can of coconut milk (without using any of the liquid), you may need more or less xanthan to help keep it firm for frosting. Usually about 1⁄4 teaspoon will do, but feel free to use a little more, up to 1⁄2 teaspoon. The frosting will also firm more after refrigerating.  I like this frosting with 1⁄2 cup of sugar, or sometimes up to 3⁄4 cup. If you like a sweeter frosting, add another few tablespoons of powdered sugar to taste, but not too much. The beauty of this frosting is its creamy-mallowy texture that is not overly sweet.

Savvy Subs and Adds: This frosting can be made without powdered sugar (substituting raw agave nectar, brown rice syrup, or pure maple syrup), but with some changes. Using maple syrup or agave, use 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 cup; and for brown rice syrup, 1⁄3 to 1⁄2 cup. Then, if you want it sweeter, consider using a pinch of stevia to heighten the sweetness, as using much more liquid sweetener will thin out the frosting. You will need more xanthan gum to keep the frosting stable. Use close to 3⁄4 teaspoon (don’t go overboard, the frosting will firm more with chilling).  Vanilla seeds are really pretty in this frosting! But if you don’t have a vanilla bean, feel free to substitute 1⁄2 to 1 tea- spoon of pure vanilla extract.

Powdered Sugar Note:  You can easily make your own organic powdered sugar. To do so, use a blender and combine 11⁄4 to 11⁄2 cups of unrefined sugar with 1 tablespoon of arrowroot powder or cornstarch. Blend on high speed until powdery, scraping down the jug once or twice. The arrow- root or cornstarch may not be needed with a very high-powered blender such as a Vitamix.

Have you ever made a frosting with coconut milk?  What is your favorite vegan cake and frosting recipe?


  1. angelica says

    Hi Dreena, I’d like to make this to frost cupcakes but need it nut free for my kiddos classmates…is there anything I can sub out the nut butter with? Maybe a different recipe instead? Thanks

  2. Melissa Lang says

    I tried the frosting recipe and couldn’t get it to work for me. i whipped the coconut cream in my Kitchenaid for 2+ minutes and I never seemed to achieve that fluffy whipped cream consistency. Then, once I handed the xanthum gum it seemed slimy. It looks so delicious in your pictures. :-/. I’m sure I did something wrong but I don’t know what. My coconut milk was high fat, chilled, and I only used the solids. I’ve had trouble making coconut whip cream in the past, too. Any thoughts on where I went wrong?

  3. says

    Hi Dreena! Thank you for this delicious-looking recipe. I’m wondering if you have any suggestions for how this cake could be made gluten-free? I have some Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten free flour…do you think that could be substituted here with some xanthan gum? Thank you!

    • Dreena says

      Hi Jena, thanks for the note. :) I haven’t tested this one gf, so can only guesstimate… I’d use an a/p flour then add about 1/2-3/4 tsp of xanthan, and also 2-3 tbsp of a tapioca starch. I might lessen the a/p flour actually and add a little more starch, or a little sorghum flour as it stands in nicely (sorghum and millet are my personal faves for gf flour). GF can be finicky, so can’t say for sure that would work, but that’s my sense. Hope that helps.

  4. Jennifer says

    I appreciate that you make so many of your recipes gluten-free! However, I am NOT gluten-sensitive, and I don’t really want to stock any more different kinds of flour. Can I just use whole wheat pastry flour?

    • Dreena says

      Hi Jennifer, this one isn’t gluten-free, as it uses spelt flour. (So, it’s free of conventional wheat, but not gf.) If you want to use w/w pastry flour you can do so, I have given the substitution note in the recipe, right after the instructions.

    • Dreena says

      Hi Jessica, well it does for a short while, maybe about an hour or two, but depends on how warm the room is – if in a warm climate, party, etc. But most of the time it’s ok b/c of the xanthan gum that helps stabilize it. :)

  5. Grey says

    I have been eyeing this recipe and want to try it, but I can’t find macadamia nut butter, even at my regional HFS! Can I use another nut butter substitute, like cashew or almond?

  6. melissa says

    Have you ever tried baking this cake in a square rectangle pan?? I was thinking of making this for a birthday party.

  7. Rebecca Stucki says

    Hurrah! Now I can give out your recipe to all my friends who were drooling over my picture of your pumpkin cake on Facebook! I love this cake! :-)

  8. Marilyn says

    This cake sounds really good, except for the coconut. I have never liked coconut. Does the frosting taste like coconut when you use the milk cream? Is there something else to substite that will work as well? I really want to make this but I want to enjoy it.

    • Dreena says

      Marilyn, for me I taste the macadamia nut butter a little more than the coconut – but it is a coconut milk base, so if you know you don’t like it, it might not be the frosting for you. I do have quite a few other frosting recipes in LTEV, including the cooked frostings (chocolate and vanilla) and a nut-based glaze. The cooked frostings use a little coconut butter or oil, but the flavor isn’t prominent at all. I don’t have those frostings posted on my blog right now though, sorry. But, the book is chock-full of goodness if you are thinking of picking it up.

  9. Bea says


    I’m confused when you say the pumpkin cake is wheat free. My research shows spelt flour as a wheat grain. Can you clarify?


    • Dreena says

      Hi Bea, I explain the difference between wheat-free and gluten-free in-depth in LTEV. Basically, when referring to something as wheat-free I am referring to traditional wheat, as spelt is a relative of wheat but not often linked to the wheat allergies and intolerances that are prevalent (though often mistakenly self-diagnosed). Many people that have wheat allergies can tolerate spelt, so I modify recipes to use alternatives to wheat-free flours. There is a little more detail in this post I did a few years ago too:

      Hope that helps. :)

      • Bea says

        Thanks, Dreena, it does!

        I became a follower after coming across your vegan waffle post. I bought the Belgian waffle maker. I’ll give the spelt flour a try :o)

        I must admit, you recipes make me smile at their deliciousness!

    • Dreena says

      Matt, as soon as we can sort out the discrepancies between mac butter, coconut butter, and then get you some canned pumpkin – you’re good to go! :-)

  10. says

    Oh dear, that frosting does look amazing! I have LTEV and have often thought of making it but I always wonder whether or not it will hold up at room temperature? Do you need to keep it refrigerated to keep it looking nice? Thanks!

    • Dreena says

      Katie, it’s fine at room temp for serving for a couple of hours, but if it’s the summer or the room is very warm, best to pop back in the fridge. The xanthan does help give it some stability. Hope that helps!

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