3 1/4 cups cake flour, all-purpose flour or gluten free 1-to-1 baking flour, sifted (do NOT skip- add in 1 tsp arrowroot powder if using all-purpose flour or gluten free 1-to-1 baking flour, see Note)
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar or coconut sugar
1 tbsp pumpkin spice
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cup unsweetened dairy free milk, room temperature
2 tsp apple cider vinegar (to be mixed with coconut/almond milk)*
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup applesauce, room temperature
2 tbsp vanilla extract
Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 cup vegan butter, softened
1 cup vegan cream cheese, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp dairy free milk
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
Prepare the vegan buttermilk first: whisk together the dairy free milk and apple cider vinegar. Set aside for 5-7 minutes to curdle. You’ll start with the dry ingredients while this is setting.
Preheat the oven to 350F and line three 8″ cake pans with olive oil and parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, pumpkin spice, baking powder, cinnamon, and baking soda.
Add in the vegan buttermilk mixture, pumpkin puree, applesauce, and vanilla extract. Use a rubber spatula to fold together the wet ingredients into the dry until there are no dry clumps left.
Divide the batter into the three cake pans evenly and place the cake pans into the oven to bake for 32-35 minutes, or until the toothpick comes out clean.
Remove the cake pans from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then transfer the pumpkin cake layers to a cooling rack to fully cool before frosting. This should take between 35-40 minutes.
Once the cakes are cooled, you can prepare the vegan cream cheese frosting. Beat together the vegan butter and vegan cream cheese until fluffy. You can use a hand mixer or a stand mixer.
Sift in the powdered sugar and continue to beat. Add in the cinnamon, maple syrup and dairy free milk while beating the vegan cream cheese frosting. The frosting should be fluffy and smooth.
When ready to frost your cake, reserve about 1/2 cup frosting for making the pumpkins. If making the pumpkins, add in turmeric powder and beet powder or your favorite vegan orange food coloring, and mix the food coloring into the frosting. Place the frosting into the fridge while you frost the rest of the cake. Then layer the frosting onto each cake layer and use a bench scraper to smooth the edges.
Place the cake into the fridge to set while you make the pumpkins. Roll the frosting into small oval balls, like a pumpkin, and place onto parchment paper. Place them back into the fridge to set for 10 minutes. When ready to serve, remove the pumpkins and the cake from the fridge and place the pumpkins on top. You can use cinnamon sticks, chocolate chips, or twigs for the pumpkin stems. Decorate and serve!
Vegan buttermilk: do not skip this step! Before beginning the cake baking process, mix together the dairy free milk and the apple cider vinegar. Let the mixture sit for 5-7 minutes to curdle.