Pumpkin Cakes

One of my favorite things about fall is cooking with pumpkin – whether it’s pumpkin pies, pumpkin cakes, or pumpkin sauces, I will pretty much try anything with pumpkin in it. As a result, I almost always have small amounts of leftover pumpkin purée sitting around. This recipe for pumpkin cakes, from Lettice Bryan’s 1839 book The Kentucky Housewife, is just the ticket to use up any pumpkin remnants. Although they are baked in an oven instead of on a griddle, these are very similar to hoe-cakes or pancakes; Lettice Bryan includes them in the chapter “Warm Cakes &c. for Breakfast and Tea.”

Pumpkin Cakes (half of original recipe):

  • 1 cup stewed or canned pumpkin
  • 2 cups cornmeal, sifted
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • about 3/4 cup to 1 cup of milk
  1. Mix the pumpkin, cornmeal, salt, melted butter, and beaten egg together in a large bowl.
  2. Gradually add the milk until the mixture forms a thick batter; the exact amount of milk will depend on the moisture of your pumpkin puree and the size of your egg.
  3. Butter a baking sheet and place large spoonfuls of batter on the sheet. Try to round off the cakes and flatten them a little before placing them in the oven.
  4. Bake at 425 degrees for about 10-12 minutes, until the cakes are starting to turn brown around the edges.
  5. Serve immediately with butter, maple syrup, or toppings of your choice.
The batter should be thick enough to hold its shape.

Tasting notes:

These have a really nice flavor without being overwhelmingly pumpkin-y. I personally loved them with maple syrup, but they could even work well with savory toppings too. They are best when fresh, so I would suggest only cooking as many as you will eat at once and saving the rest of the batter in the fridge to make the next day. Although they are baked in the original recipe, I also tried frying up a few in butter just like pancakes; I liked the way those turned out even better, so I would definitely recommend it. These make an excellent fall breakfast for pumpkin fans.


Bryan, L. (1839). The Kentucky housewife. Cincinnati: Shepard & Stearns. https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Kentucky_Housewife/RERv9slqYUsC?hl=en&gbpv=1

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