Gluten free pumpkin butter cake is a light, buttery, almost flaky vanilla cake that bakes all along the bottom of the pan and up the sides. And it's filled with the nicest, lightest most lightly sweet pumpkin cheesecake you've ever had.
Other than apple pie and pumpkin pie, I wouldn't say that it's so obvious what to serve for dessert on Thanksgiving. I mean, everyone knows about turkey, gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole, and definitely some lovely dinner rolls, but after that it's not such a slam dunk. First of all, everyone is stuffed from the meal. Even when you have a family like mine that absolutely plans ahead that they're going to overeat on Thanksgiving, there are limits. And of course there's always the matter of what, exactly, to serve.
You definitely want something with pumpkin on the dessert table. It's a must. But pumpkin pie isn't necessarily everyone's favorite (what? it isn't! Is it?). And since a proper apple pie isn't overly sweet at all, it's nice to have a pumpkin dessert option to match. All of this is to say that I believe I've found essentially the perfect pumpkin dessert for Thanksgiving: gluten free pumpkin butter cake.
It's the crust that'll knock your socks off, really. Okay and the pumpkin cheesecake filling doesn't hurt either. It slices nice and clean, but it's still light and fluffy.
As you can see, to get that beautiful sugary crust all around your butter cake, a springform pan really works best. Generally I try to avoid springform pans, but for any sort of cheesecake, it really is best to use one. You could also try baking this in separate pans like our original California Pizza Kitchen-Style Gluten Free Butter Cake (just reduce the baking time), as it's easier to get a small cake cleanly out of a baking ramekin than it would be to get a whole 9-inch cake out of a baking pan without inverting it.
This cake also keeps really beautifully in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, so it's a great make-ahead option for Thanksgiving. I haven't tried freezing it, though, since cheesecake doesn't generally freeze very well. But just look at that velvety pumpkin cheesecake inside the gorgeous butter cake with that amazing sugar crust. This will be the Thanksgiving to remember. I can feel it!
Gluten Free Pumpkin Butter Cake
For prepping the pans
2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
For the cake layer
1 cup (140 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used my mock Better Batter)
1/4 cup (36 g) cornstarch (or another starch if you can’t have corn)
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups (250 g) sugar
8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs (120 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) milk, at room temperature
For the cheesecake layer
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
7 1/2 ounces (half of a 15-ounce can) pure pumpkin puree
2 eggs (120 g, weighed out of shell), at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
1 tablespoon (9 g) cornstarch (or another starch)
*To make your own pumpkin pie spice, combine 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon + 1 teaspoon ground ginger + 1/2 teaspoon allspice, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves + 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg.
Preheat your oven to 375°F. Prepare a deep, 9-inch springform baking dish by greasing the bottom and sides generously with softened butter and sprinkling with an even layer of sugar. Tap the sugar around the pan to coat the entire buttered surface. Set the pans aside.
Make the cake layer. In a large bowl, place the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and sugar, and whisk to combine well. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the butter, eggs, vanilla and milk, mixing to combine after each addition. The batter should be thick but relatively fluffy. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it into an even layer. Set the pan aside.
Make the pumpkin cheesecake layer. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large bowl with a hand mixer, place the cream cheese and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the pumpkin puree, eggs, vanilla, sugar, salt and pumpkin pie spice, beating to combine well after each addition. add the cornstarch, and beat to combine. The mixture should be light and fluffy. Scrape the cheesecake layer on top of the cake batter in the prepared pan, and spread into an even layer.
Bake the cake. Place the pan on a large rimmed baking sheet lined with a piece of parchment paper. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake until the cake is mostly set on top, with just a little bit of jiggle in the center when shaken lightly from side to side (about 45 minutes). Remove the pan from the oven, place on a wire rack and allow to cool completely in the pan. Unmold the cooled cake by removing the sides of the springform pan. Slice and serve.
Adapted from my recipe for California Pizza Kitchen-Style Gluten Free Butter Cake, itself inspired by Homemade Cravings.