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Home » Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Swirls – for Halloween or Thanksgiving

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Swirls – for Halloween or Thanksgiving

A gluten-free pumpkin-y delight that’s perfect for Halloween and Thanksgiving meals!

From Chef Oonagh Williams of Gluten-Free Cooking with Oonagh

A friend told me this was a Libby’s’ recipe. I got it years ago at a potluck, made it often, and then adapted it to be gluten-free. Easy, moist and moreish. A 15 oz can of Libby’s solid pack pumpkin will make three times recipe, that is 3 cakes. And yes, there is no oil or butter in this recipe, pumpkin is used the way apple sauce can be used.



  • 2/3 cup (or 5+1/2 oz, 160g) pumpkin from a can (not pumpkin pie filling). Don’t increase amount of pumpkin, cake won’t work
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup (210g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoon (10ml) baking powder
  • 2 teaspoon (10 ml) cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice
  • ½ cup (85g) gluten-free flour that doesn’t contain xanthan gum or baking powder, or ¾ cup (85g) my gluten-free flour blend (see below)
  • pinch of salt

Cream Cheese Swirls

  • 4 oz (112g) cream cheese softened
  • 2 Tablespoon (30ml) powdered sugar
  • 1 egg yolk or 1 Tablespoon liquid egg substitute

Mix together until smooth. These cream cheese swirls will top raw cake batter and become the “spider-web” pattern.

Frosting for Outside of Cake

  • ½ cup (56 g) cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup (112g) powdered sugar. I do sift the sugar as that’s quicker than trying to get frosting smooth with lumpy powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract

Mix together until smooth.

I don’t recommend using this frosting for the cream cheese swirls. The higher sugar content makes the cake far too sweet and sugar also caramelizes and sinks more into cake batter.


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).  Spray springform pan and line base with parchment paper, dust with flour – I use white rice flour.
  2. Mix together pumpkin, eggs, vanilla and sugar and beat for 2 minutes to incorporate air.
  3. Add baking powder, spice, salt and flour and mix well.
  4. Pour onto lined springform pan, gently spread out.
  5. Spoon cream cheese into plastic bag, snip off corner and pipe concentric circles on top of raw batter. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect. Take a small sharp knife or skewer and pull tip of knife/skewer through the cream cheese batter from center of cake to edge of cake to create the spider web design.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes until well-risen, springy but still soft to the touch. Stick a fork or toothpick into middle of cake to check that it’s cooked and taste a piece of cake. If it still has grainy flour taste, give it 5 minutes more.
  7. Once you’ve removed the cake from oven, let cool 10 minutes. Run a thin spatula around outside of cake to loosen and then remove springform ring.
  8. Allow to cool completely and then move to serving plate, lining paper should easily remove.
  9. Pipe frosting around outside of cake. Unless you use a huge pipe you should have leftover frosting that you can pipe on individual serving plate or freeze for another recipe.

I used various Halloween items to decorate as well as mini ceramic pumpkins for Thanksgiving.

My Gluten-Free Mix

I use for one cup of GF mix.

  • ½ cup potato starch. Substitute arrowroot for nightshade allergy
  • ¼ cup tapioca starch from Asian market, or Goya or Yoki brand in supermarkets
  • 2 Tablespoon amaranth or millet flour
  • 2 Tablespoon sorghum flour

Larger quantity:

  • 1 x 14 oz bag potato starch (3+1/2 cups)
  • 7 oz (1+3/4 cup) tapioca starch
  • 4 oz (¾ cup plus 2 Tablespoons) amaranth or millet
  • 4 oz (¾ cup plus 2 Tablespoons) sorghum

Makes about 7 cups total.

Watch me make this on NH’s ABC WMUR TV—recipe is still the same but I now leave out xanthan gum.


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