pumpkin snack cake with cashew buttercream on cooling rack

This vegan pumpkin snack cake with cashew buttercream is a healthier take on a traditional pumpkin spice cake. It’s dairy-free and made without refined sugar. 

This pumpkin snack cake with cashew buttercream is a healthier take on the pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting that makes an appearance in the fall. I loved those pumpkin bars so much, I would routinely ask my mom to make for my birthday growing up. The pumpkin bars I loved were incredibly moist and tooth-achingly sweet with a thick cream cheese frosting. Call me crazy, but I always scraped off most of the cream cheese frosting so I could really taste the cake. I always thought the cake was the best part.

Healthy Pumpkin snack Cake

This pumpkin snack cake was inspired by those pumpkin bars of my childhood. It’s a wholesome version made with spelt flour, maple syrup, pumpkin puree, and avocado oil. These ingredients create a vegan cake that’s still moist and delicious but without being overly sweet. To keep the cake lower in sugar, it’s only lightly sweetened maple syrup. This makes it perfect for pairing with the sweet cashew buttercream.

In place of all-purpose flour, this pumpkin snack cake uses sprouted spelt flour (I love One Degree Organics). Sprouted flour is easier to digest and allows your body to absorb more of the nutrients found in the whole grain. Even though spelt flour isn’t gluten-free, many people mind they tolerate it better than regular wheat flour. That being said, if you need a gluten-free option, I recommend oat flour. The cake turns out slightly more fragile but it’s still incredibly moist and delicious. You can’t go wrong either way!

slice of pumpkin snack cake with cashew buttercream with spatula
slice of pumpkin snack cake with cashew buttercream
close up slice of pumpkin snack cake with cashew buttercream

NOURISHED BY NUTRITION FACTS:

Sprouted spelt flour – this is my go-to baking flour. Spelt is an ancient strain of wheat that hasn’t been hybridized like modern wheat. Just like wheat flour is made from grinding down wheat berries, spelt flour is made from grinding spelt berries. Even though spelt isn’t gluten-free, it has less gluten as regular wheat flour, making it more easily digestible for some individuals.

I love using sprouted flours because they are more easily digestible and also more nutritious than regular flours. The sprouting process breaks down phytic acid allowing for better absorption of some nutrients like iron, calcium, and zinc. It also makes the grains easier to digest. I love One Degree Organics and have been using their product of years.

Maple syrup – this is also my preferred sweetener of choice. Pure maple syrup adds a rich depth of flavor to baked goods and is especially delicious with warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. Since maple syrup is an unrefined sweetener, there are trace amounts of nutrients still intact. Maple syrup is high in zinc and manganese and has around 24 antioxidants. While this makes maple syrup a great option to replace refined sugar, it’s still sugar and is best used sparingly.

Cashews – these nuts are an excellent source of healthy monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats are considered heart-healthy fats that are essential to lowering LDL-cholesterol while increasing HDL-cholesterol levels. Cashews are also rich in minerals like copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, iron, and zinc. Cashews are also incredibly versatile. Raw cashews can be transformed into dips, dressing, and sauces. They’re also great for grabbing a handful you’re looking for a quick snack on the go.

fork slicing a slice of pumpkin snack cake with cashew buttercream

IF YOU LOVE THIS Pumpkin Snack Cake, YOU’LL ALSO ENJOY THESE RECIPES:

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Pumpkin Snack Cake with Cashew Buttercream

This vegan pumpkin cake with cashew buttercream is a healthier take on a traditional pumpkin spice cake. It’s dairy-free and made without refined sugar.

  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 35
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 9 slices 1x
Scale

Ingredients

2 cups sprouted spelt flour (or a combination of 3/4 cup oat flour and 1 1/4 cup sprouted spelt flour)

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/8 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 1/2 cup organic pumpkin puree*

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 tablespoons ground flax + 5 tablespoons warm water (or 1/4 cup aquafaba*)

1/4 tablespoons almond milk

1/4 cup avocado oil or other neutral oil

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper.

Start by making the flax egg (if using aquafaba, sip this step). Combine the two tablespoons ground flax with the five tablespoons warm water. Stir and let sit of 10 minutes or until a thick gel forms.
In a large bowl combine the spelt flour (or spelt and oat flour), spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl combine the pumpkin puree, maple syrup, flax egg (or aquafaba), almond milk and avocado oil. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients. Stir gently to incorporate, being careful not to over-mix and stopping when the batter is just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Use a spatula or back of a spoon evenly distribute the batter. Place in the middle rack of the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out completely clean.

Once out of the oven, let cool for five minutes, then lift up the sides of the parchment paper to remove the cake from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool. When the cake is completely cool, remove the parchment from the cake. You may need to use a large spatula to slide the cake onto the rack as you remove the paper from underneath.

To frost the cake, place one cup of cashew buttercream (recipe below) on top of the cake. Use a spatula to spread in an even layer. Add more cashew buttercream if needed. Slice and serve. Store leftover cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Notes

I highly recommend using organic pumpkin. It’s much thinner than regular canned pumpkin like Libby’s and works best in this cake.

Aquafaba (the liquid drained from a can of chickpeas) is a great vegan egg replacement. All you need to do is strain a can of chickpeas, saving the liquid from the can.

Gluten-free option: I’ve made this with a combination of 1 1/4 cup spelt flour and 3/4 cup oat flour as well as 2 cups oat flour. The all spelt version is less fragile than the oat flour option. However, if you need the cake to be gluten-free, the oat flour cake is still delicious!

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Cashew Buttercream

Rich, creamy dairy-free buttercream frosting made from cashews and naturally sweetened with maple syrup.

  • Prep Time: 20
  • Total Time: 20
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x
Scale

Ingredients

2 cups raw cashews

1/4 cup maple syrup

4 tablespoons almond milk

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

pinch of salt

Notes

Place the cashews in a bowl. Cover with boiling water and let sit for 10 minutes. Once soft, strain the cashews and discard the water. Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and turn on high, using the temper to help the mixture blend smoothly.

This makes about 2 cups of cashew buttercream. I only used 1 cup to frost the cake but feel free to use it all. Extra cashew buttercream can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a week.

This recipe was originally published in 2017. Since then I’ve updated the recipe to make it even better. The new photos reflect the latest version of the recipe.

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

I’d love to hear how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #nourishedbynutriton.