This simple pumpkin bundt cake might look just like a real pumpkin but don’t forget, it tastes amazing too! A moist chocolate bundt cake loaded and filled with orange zested buttercream frosting for a burst of scrumptious flavor!

Now I know homemade baking can be a scary thing for many people. This recipe ideally skips all of the typical fuss and stress around home baking. A simplified base with a perfectly smooth frosting and some simple decorations is all you need.

Be sure to grab the full recipe & check out the full video tutorial in the recipe card below. And if you try this recipe (I mean you totally should be), tag me on Instagram @imancake and use the hashtag #BakingWithMANCAKE.

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I have 20 KitchenAid Stand Mixers to giveaway & one of them could be yours!


  • Measure your flour correctly! Adding too much flour to the recipe is the most common mistake. The best, and easiest way to measure flour is by using a scale. If you don’t have one then fluff your flour with a spoon, sprinkle it into your measuring cup, and use a knife to level it off.
  • If you want to go for added realism then whip up two batches of buttercream in similar shades of orange. Cover your pumpkin in one batch and begin shaping it.
  • Pop the cake into the fridge and let it chill to harden, then add highlights or lowlights (your choice) on the pumpkin’s ridges and smooth them out to blend.
  • The best shaping tool I can recommend is the back of a spoon, a yogurt container you cut into half circles and rounded points. These pieces will flex and give you better control when shaping and smoothing the pumpkins.
  • Dipping your spoon into HOT water will help you smooth the chilled cake for a nicer surface.


  • At first I tried to make one by covering an inverted cupcake in green buttercream and then sculpting. It looked OK but kind of cartoonish and out of proportion.
  • You can mix up a very thick batch of buttercream and roll it into the desired shape then carve away at it, add some brown streaks and an off-white top.
  • Your third option is to shape one from fondant, in which case you can totally go to town and make the most creative but maybe inedible pumpkin stem ever!.



  1. Sift and whisk dry ingredients together.
  2. Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
  3. Add wet to dry mixture and mix until combined.
  4. Bake in prepared pans until centers are springy to the touch.


  • Adding the right amount of fat gives chocolate cake a moist crumb. Using oil, as I did in this recipe lets you chill the cake without having to worry about it hardening. Fluffiness comes from using the right amount of leavening agent; too much and the cake will collapse, too little and it will be dense.
  • Creaming the butter and sugar coupled with whipping egg whites until they reach the soft peak stage then folding them into the batter.


Use a nice quality cocoa powder, fresh ingredients and remember to balance the sweetness with a bit of salt. Follow the recipe below for the most moist and fluffy chocolate cake imaginable.

Don’t over bake your layers! Watch the batter and remove from oven when the centers spring back when pressed lightly and the edge starts pulling away from the pan.


Coffee brings out and amplifies the chocolate flavor in baked goods like cake and cupcakes. Add  ing a little bit will make things taste more “chocolatey” without giving a coffee flavor. Adding a LOT of coffee will create a mocha flavor. If you would like to omit the coffee from this recipe just substitute for warm water or milk. I’ve done this and the cake still tastes great! Just a little toned down in my opinion.


  • I love a simple American buttercream. The cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate along with a nice dose of salt really balances out the sugar and creates a decadent flavor explosion! 
  • If you like things less sweet and maybe a bit more subtle then you should try a meringue-based frosting like Swiss or Italian buttercream. The consistency is VERY light and creamy with not too much sugar.


I love using a high-quality Dutch processed cocoa powder. Dutch processed cocoa powder is darker, less acidic and fudgier in baked goods. You’ll usually get less rise out of it though. My go to is Hershey but there are lots of great brands out there, including Guittard, Callebaut, Ghirardelli and lots of organic and fair trade options too!


Always start with your basic tools from measuring cups to cake pans.


  • To get FLAT layers that are moist inside and out try using cake strips! can make your own from foil and paper towels at home.
  • The batter is very liquidy so while it will be AMAZINGLY MOIST the cook time will be longer than your average chocolate cake.
  • Measure your flour correctly! Adding too much flour to the recipe is the most common mistake. The best, and easiest way to measure flour is by using a scale. If you don’t have one then fluff your flour with a spoon, sprinkle it into your measuring cup, and use a knife to level it off.


  • If you are not a coffee fan then sub in milk, or water. The coffee, which you really don’t taste, helps bring the chocolate taste out but I know lots of people either can’t stand it or have dietary restrictions.
  • If you don’t have sour cream handy then plain whole milk yogurt will work just fine!
  • Buttermilk can be annoying to keep on hand as it expires quickly and most recipes use very little. I often use powdered buttermilk reconstituted with water or add a tablespoon of lemon juice into some whole milk to curdle it.
  • I’m OBSESSED with cacao nibs, they’re pure, unprocessed chocolate aka they’re very crunchy and chocolatey but not sweet! They contrast the buttercream nicely and prevent the cake from cloying. DOn’t worry if you can’t find them, you can totally skip them, or sub in chopped nuts. Use your favorite nut and never forget to toast them!!
  • If you don’t like coffee just use water or milk instead. Both will still make a tasty cake

Cake Troubleshooting

Why are the Baking Pans Sticking to the Cake?

While spring form pans make it easy to get the cakes out of the pan with minimal cleanup, they can sometimes stick to the cake. A high sugar content recipe can cause the batter to caramelize against the baking pan, and a lower fat recipe tends to stick more than a batter higher in fat.

If you notice your cakes are sticking to the baking pans, try placing a deep baking pan filled with water on the bottom rack of your oven. This added moisture my help prevent sticking.  A cake is also more likely to stick to the baking pan if it has not cooled completely before trying to unwrap it.

How to Store Cakes

Cakes are at their best within the first 2 days of baking. While they can last up to 5 days at room temperature in an airtight container, they will start to dry out after 3-4 days.

Be sure to let the cakes cool completely. Packing un-iced cakes while still warm can create sticky tops, making it more difficult to get the icing to stick when you are ready to frost them.

Choose an airtight container that is tall enough, so the container lid doesn’t touch the icing.

Typically, the container can be left out at room temperature; however, if you are experiencing hot and humid weather that is causing the icing to melt or if the cakes are filled or decorated with something that requires refrigeration (like lemon curd or a meringue buttercream), you can store them in the refrigerator.

If you must refrigerate your cakes, bring them back to room temperature before serving.

Freezing Baked Cakes

Un-iced cakes can be frozen for up to 3 months. Be sure the cakes are completely cooled to room temperature before freezing to avoid condensation forming, which can result in soggy cakes when it’s time to defrost them.

While simply placing the cakes in an airtight container is enough, individually wrapping each cake before placing them in the airtight container will better help preserve the freshness and taste.

After removing them from the freezer, let them defrost uncovered to prevent the tops from getting sticky.



  • Sift your powdered sugar to avoid clogging piping tips.
  • Scrape the bowl down to help ensure even consistency throughout.
  • You can use almost anything to flavor buttercream like fruit juice, coffee, orange blossom or rose water, melted chocolate, or Oreos!
  • If your buttercream has been sitting for a while or was chilled and brought back to room temperature it’s always a good idea to give it a quick whip to restore it’s consistency.
  • If you’re looking for a very spreadable and very smooth icing, you can add the full amount of cream in (and maybe even a bit more).



  • For a whiter buttercream it’s really important to use a pale butter. Almost every recipe will call for using unsalted butter but then have you add salt back in. This is done because various brands of butter have different amounts of salt in their product.
  • Using unsalted butter helps to ensure a consistent result. You can however use salted butter, omit additional salt and have a delicious frosting. 
  • The most important thing to do when whipping up a batch of buttercream is that it’s room temperature!


If you need to warm some cold butter up just slice it into some smaller pieces and microwave them on a plate at 50% power for 10 second bursts. Flip them after each burst and they’ll be nice and room temperature in no time!


The main difference between buttercream and whipped frosting is butter. Whipped frosting does not contain butter and is a lighter and fluffier icing. Buttercream contains a good amount of butter and has more of a rich flavor; so you be the judge! 🙂


When buttercream is left out at room temperature, it will form sort of a crust on the outer layer while the inside will stay fairly smooth. If it is very warm or humid, then the buttercream can loose structure. This will affect decorations you’ve piped and may even destabilize layer cakes, causing them to sag or even collapse.


You can leave out buttercream frosting out overnight if covered. If the buttercream contains cream cheese, then it should always be refrigerated for it to remain safe to eat. Buttercream that contains dairy will spoil more quickly so it should be refrigerated after a few hours.


If you want to thin out buttercream frosting, then you’ll want to add in some extra cream or milk. I recommend mixing in a tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.

More Helpful Buttercream Tips

  • To color: Use Icing Colors or food coloring to tint frosting to any color without disturbing the consistency of the frosting.
  • Air bubbles troubleshooting: If your frosting has air bubbles, let it rest for a few minutes to allow it to deflate. To avoid creating air bubbles, make sure to use the paddle attachment rather than the whisk attachment on your electric stand mixer.
  • Grainy/gritty consistency: Make sure your ingredients are all room temperature to avoid a grainy consistency.
  • To preserve while in use: Depending on the weather and humidity, your buttercream may start to crust over. To avoid this, cover your frosting bowl with plastic wrap.
  • To store: Frosting should be stored in an airtight container and can be frozen for up to 6 weeks.

Buttercream Ingredients 101

Like all the best recipes, the perfect buttercream frosting comes down to using the right ingredients. Fat, sugar, liquid and salt are key to making the best frosting – but why?

To understand how buttercream works, it’s helpful to know how these ingredients work together and how they affect the outcome.

Learning more about what each of these ingredients do will also better give you the ability to make tweaks and substitutions to fit your needs.

The buttercream frosting ingredients that make up any buttercream are pretty standard.

Also known as “American buttercream” or “crusting buttercream”, this type of frosting is known to be sturdy and sweet, compared to some European style frostings (some of which require additional cooking, which this buttercream does not).

What sets this cake’s buttercream apart from the rest is its ability to “crust”. This means the outer surface of the buttercream sets and becomes dry to the touch, creating a stable texture for decorating and smoothing techniques.

This is especially useful for spatula painting your cakes, image transfers and piping decorations with crisp detail (like flower petals or borders).

But to get that perfect crust on your frosting, you need the right ingredients, starting with one of the most important of the group – the fats.


Pure white vegetable shortening, butter of margarine

It’s no surprise that the basis of buttercream frosting is butter. Rich and delicious, butter adds great flavor to your frosting and when used with a little pure vegetable shortening, can create a frosting that will stand up to all kinds of decorating tasks.

While you certainly can make an all-butter or all-shortening frosting, I will always suggest using a little of each ingredient to get the best of both worlds.

For a rich and creamy flavor in your frosting, butter is key. For those who want to use margarine instead, go for regular margarine rather than low-fat. Low-fat margarine tends to have a higher water content than regular margarine or butter and that extra water will affect the consistency of your buttercream.

What butter does for flavor, shortening does for texture and stability.

Shortening helps create a light and fluffy frosting while also providing a neutral flavor to help cut the richness of the butter.

Frosting made with shortening also tends to hold up better to time and temperature, so be sure to add shortening if you’re planning to pipe buttercream flowers or borders or if your cake will be sitting out at room temperature for an extended amount of time.

If you’d rather use one or the other, that’s fine, too. An all-butter frosting will be flavorful, but a bit heavy and prone to melting and drooping. Keep cakes iced with an all-butter frosting refrigerated for as long as possible to prevent melting.

An all-shortening recipe (also known as “pure white frosting” or “snow white frosting”) will be very sturdy and fluffy, even in warm climates. This type of recipe is great for piping buttercream roses, flowers and borders. If using an all-shortening recipe, keep in mind that flavoring will need to be added, as shortening has no taste (see more on flavor below).


Confectioners’ sugar (also known as powdered sugar, 10x sugar or frosting sugar)

Confectioners’ sugar – otherwise known as that powdery white sugar that gets everywhere – is essential for keeping the consistency of your buttercream nice and smooth.

Also known as powdered or frosting sugar, confectioners’ sugar contains a small amount of cornstarch, which prevents caking. The cornstarch, when mixed with a liquid ingredient, also helps to thicken your buttercream.

Unfortunately, not all sugars are created equal. The powder-like consistency of this ingredient is what makes it essential to buttercream, so granulated sugar or even superfine sugar cannot be used as substitutes.

If you cannot find confectioners’ sugar in your area, try grinding granulated sugar in a food processor until it turns into powder, then sift it to remove any large granules.


Pure vanilla extract (or any extract of your choice!)

While I use vanilla extract to flavor my buttercream, you can use any extract, flavor paste or emulsion to add a depth of flavor to your frosting.

Try peppermint extract around the holidays or a tasty fruit-flavored extract for a spring or summer treat. For a more natural taste, use emulsified blueberries or strawberries for a delicious frosting that would taste great on any cake!

If you’re using a liquid flavoring such as extracts, keep in mind that it may thin down the consistency of your buttercream.

If your frosting becomes too thin, add confectioners’ sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency.

Traditional vanilla extract may also add a slight tint to your buttercream, especially if you’re making an all-shortening recipe. To maintain a bright white buttercream, go for a clear vanilla instead.


Milk, water, heavy whipping cream, half-and-half

In order to get the perfect consistency for your buttercream, a liquid ingredient may need to be added. While you can use water, I will always suggest using milk, heavy whipping cream or half-and-half to add extra flavor and creaminess to your frosting. Nut-based milks will also work, but may add a light flavor as well.

When it comes to liquid, a little goes a long way. To ensure that you get the right consistency without ruining your buttercream, add half the amount of liquid called for in the recipe (especially if you’re also using a liquid flavoring).

Check for consistency, then add more liquid if needed. For filling, crumb-coating and frosting cakes, we suggest a medium-consistency frosting. For piping decorations like flowers and borders, stick with a stiff-consistency buttercream.


Table salt, kosher salt or superfine salt

You may think salt is a strange ingredient to add to buttercream, but it does wonders for enhancing flavor and cutting through the sweetness of this frosting.

If you’re using table salt or kosher salt, let it dissolve in your liquid ingredient for a few minutes to prevent granules in your frosting. If you’re using superfine salt (or popcorn salt), you can add it to your mixture along with the confectioners’ sugar.

Superfine salt is also good for adjusting taste after your buttercream has been made. If your frosting is done and you think it’s too sweet, superfine salt will easily dissolve into the buttercream more evenly than table salt, so you can better balance the sweetness.

However, if you’ve got a sweet tooth and love nothing more than a yummy, sweet frosting, you can omit the salt altogether!

A delicious, versatile frosting is a must for any baker or decorator, and with the right ingredients you can create a buttercream that’s literally the frosting on every cake!

Buttercream Substitutes & Modifications

  • Shortening substitute: 1/2 cup butter can be substituted for the ½ cup of shortening, although the buttercream will appear more yellow.
  • Liquid substitute: Water can be used as the liquid ingredient, although the fat from milk and heavy cream make for creamier and more flavorful buttercream.
  • Butter substitute for pure white buttercream: To make pure white buttercream, substitute out the 1/2 cup of butter for additional white vegetable shortening and opt for clear vanilla extract. To add the butter flavor to the shortening frosting, add 1/2 teaspoon of clear butter flavor.
  • Using a hand mixer: If using a hand mixer, add your milk or water a little earlier in the process to avoid exhausting your hand mixer. Start gradually adding the liquid if the hand mixer starts to slow down while mixing in the powdered sugar.
  • To cut sweetness: If your buttercream is too sweet, add a pinch of salt. Popcorn salt is optimal for adding to buttercream because it’s more granular than other salts. Make sure it dissolves completely once mixed in. You can also opt for ½ cup salted butter rather than ½ cup unsalted butter to avoid overly sweet buttercream.
  • To add flavor: This recipe can be easily flavored in a variety of ways using extracts and other flavorings, like almond extract or cocoa powder. Liquid flavoring may water down the frosting, so substitute out some of the milk or water with liquid flavoring.

Buttercream Consistencies

This buttercream recipe is for medium consistency, which is excellent for piping decorations like rosettes and dots. However, it will need to be thinned for frosting birthday cakes and borders.

Stiff Consistency: Gradually add additional confectioners’ sugar for a stiffer consistency. Best for dimensional decorations that need to retain their shape when piped. This consistency is generally used for piping upright petals for flowers.

Medium Consistency: Add 1 teaspoon of liquid (light corn syrup, milk or water) for each cup of stiff frosting. For pure white frosting, add up to 2 tablespoons of clear liquid. Medium consistency is used for borders such as stars, dots, rosettes and shells, as well as other decorations that will remain relatively flat.

Thin Consistency: Add 2 teaspoons of liquid (light corn syrup, milk or water) for each cup of buttercream frosting. For pure white frosting, add up to 4 tablespoons of liquid. Thin consistency is best for cake frosting, as well as piping lines and letters. If you are making a buttercream intended for writing, use light corn syrup as your liquid. Writing will flow easily and won’t break.

Be sure to grab the full recipe & check out the full video tutorial in the recipe card below. And if you try this recipe (I mean you totally should be), tag me on Instagram @imancake and use the hashtag #BakingWithMANCAKE.

If you’ve tried this tasty treat then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you!

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes


  • 1 ½ sticks butter at room temperature
  • 1 ¾ cups white sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cup warm water or fresh brewed coffee
  • 1 stick butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • Orange food gel color
  • Green fondant
  • Brown Fondant
  • 1 cupcake


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For the Cake

  1. Double this recipe for two identical bundt cakes.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy on a medium speed for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla.
  4. Beat butter mixture at a medium speed for about 1 minute.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
  6. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture while alternating with water. Be sure to start and end with the dry ingredient mix.
  7. On a low speed, mix until creamy. You should not need to mix longer than a minute at most. With that said, be sure not to over mix.
  8. Pour cake batter into a prepared pan.
  9. Bake for 40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  10. Let cool for 10 minutes in pan. After, invert onto cooling rack and let cook entirely.

For the Buttercream

  1. You’ll want to make two batches. Simply double the buttercream ingredients listed above.
  2. Sift 4 cups of powdered sugar & set bowl aside.
  3. Cream butter & shortening.
  4. Blend in vanilla extract.
  5. Scrape down the sides.
  6. Place your mixer on the lowest speed & slowly add in your powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time.
  7. Do not worry if your buttercream looks crumbly & dry because we will fix that next.
  8. Scrape down the sides one last time.
  9. With your mixer on a medium high speed, slowly add in heavy cream, a few drops of orange food gel, and orange zest.
  10. Turn mixer up to a high speed and whip your buttercream until you have light & fluffy consistency you are looking for.


  1. Cut bottoms off cakes.
  2. Pipe or smear orange buttercream onto bottoms. Sandwich together and place a cupcake into the hole on top.
  3. Depending on the shape bundt pan you use, you may need to contour the outside using a knife to sculpt into a pumpkin shape.
  4. Cover in orange buttercream. Refrigerate to help the sculpting process.
  5. Using a knife, smooth into ridges. Add a second layer of dark buttercream to create dimension. 
  6. Smooth the buttercream. You can easily cut a yogurt cup into a half circle-shaped tool. It's flexible and doesn't gouge the buttercream. 
  7. For the final smoothing chill the pumpkin in the freezer and use the back of a spoon dipped in hot water.
  8. Take your brown fondant and shape a pumpkin stem. Add stem to the top of the pumpkin. 
  9. For the leaves, roll out your green fondant to about 1/4 inch thick and punch out a few leaves with a leaf punch cutter. For the vines, simple roll out fondant and curl the tips to resemble vines as you place them on your cake.


  • Room Temperature Ingredients: Be sure to allow your dairy ingredients to reach room temperature. Room temperature ingredients not only combine more effortlessly (no over-mixing needed) but they also trap air so much better. This trap air will expand and produce a fluffy texture during your baking process.
  • Prepared Pan: There will always be the "next best way to prepare your pan" article. Simply put however, the most effective way i find in my kitchen is a light rub of shortening around the sides, parchment paper on the bottom of the pan, & a very light dusting of flour (cocoa powder for chocolate baked goods) all throughout.
  • You can use this buttercream right away or place it in an airtight container in your fridge until ready to use. Just be sure to whip before using.
  • If you’d prefer to skip the shortening, simply swap it out with 1 additional stick of room temperature butter.
  • If you’d prefer a more white, stiffer, buttercream then simply omit the butter & replace with 1 additional cup of shortening. Also be sure to swap out the vanilla extract for clear vanilla extract.
  • Make sure you sift your powdered sugar. This will help the sugar mix into the butter & shortening smoothly.
  • When all your powdered sugar has been added in, the buttercream will appear dry. Don’t raise the alarms. When adding in your milk or heavy cream, your buttercream will start to have the fluffy texture it‘s known for.
  • Keep in mind that your heavy cream should be added in 1 tablespoon at a time. I do this way to make sure I am not drowning my buttercream to the point of a soupy mess.
  • Also worth mentioning, if desired, you can easily swap out the heavy cream for equal parts of your preferred milk such as whole milk or buttermilk.

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