Rediscovering St. Andrew’s Secret to Harvest Gold Pumpkin Cake

Harvest Gold Pumpkin Cake with oranges sliced for Guests by bake this cakeWelcome back to the retro Harvest Gold Pumpkin Cake! Serve this golden beauty warm from the oven or with a nice cream cheese frosting (or a side dollop of whipped cream). This vintage darling brings you the warm flavors of autumn without an overload of heavy pumpkin spices. Just enough to ring in the season in bright style!

Pumpkin Sugar Cookie on a blue Bauer plate and orange candy bowl by bake this cake

I like bringing a little country into our home. You’d think that would be hard living in Los Angeles. And I definitely live the city life, working in Downtown LA (go hashtag #DTLA!). This vibrant and way-cool City of Angels has so much to offer, especially in the fascinating downtown districts, that are just bursting with amazing new restaurants, coffee shops and renovated historic buildings! There’s my office building peeking into the sky on the very left of this photo.

Downtown Los Angeles at sunset DTLA photo by Leslie Macchiarella

But I’m so glad I have a haven’t turned into a “Corporate Head”, as artist, Terry Allen, so eloquently portrayed in his 1991 bronze sculpture.  Somehow, I can totally relate to this amazing piece of public art!

Corporate Head Sculpture by Terry Allen photo by Leslie Macchiarella

I guess I like to think of my home as a bit of an oasis from city life, with a few fruit trees and a few vegetables planted here and there, and lots of animals milling about. I’ve stashed my briefcase away for the week-end and I’ve pulled my head from the concrete (whew!) and I’m lounging on the front lawn with our big kitty, Eddie (he’s my lovable macho man). I’m dreaming of cold weather months (that have not quite arrived in sunny So Cal).  Just sayin’ — it was close to 90 degrees this week! But I do feel the change in weather creeping in and I am SO looking forward to lighting up the fireplace after so long without a bit of chill in the air. I think I’ll research my old cookbooks for a small and simple bake-ahead cake for the holidays that would make a good traveling cake for church and office and potluck events.  Intelligensia coffee on my lawn with my cat Eddie photo by Leslie Macchiarella

I’ve been scouring the vintage cookbooks just ‘a searching for you, my darling little cake friend. Don’t get me wrong. I love the autumn flavors of pumpkin spices. But sometimes the cloves feel a little dark. Even for a person like me who is bent on bringing history back to life with recipes from our grandmothers’ and great-grandmothers’ days. But it’s like, the old-fashioned taste palate can seem a tad overwhelming when something bright and light with a hint-of-cozy feels just right.

Classic Cookbooks for cake research bake this cakeThis floral arrangement reminds me that tweaking traditional to a bit lighter and brighter makes me a happy camper. And, of course, here’s Eddie’s skinny twin, Sid, getting into his usual photo bomb spirit by ducking under this bouquet. (Yes, he knows I’m taking a photo at this moment and he always wants to be in the photo.)

Sid kitty hiding under gerbera daisy bouquet bake this cake

As far as pumpkin cake history goes, the more spices the merrier in the “good ole’ days”. Think:  Mrs. Roosevelt’s Clove Cake and even dark Pepper Cakes. But this Harvest Gold beauty changes that up a bit in a surprisingly modern way for a vintage cake. It leaves out (completely) the most traditional spice mix  that we think of when we think of pumpkin pie and pumpkin cake spices. That would be the secret to this cake. No cloves. Yup! No cloves whatsoever. And no cinnamon. Nope. No allspice, no vanilla. Nada. And…light-handed on the rest of the spices (just ginger and nutmeg). I added orange zest to the recipe but the end result lets the pumpkin shine on through for a moist and bright cake in vintage style.

Ginger and nutmeg in Harvest Gold Pumpkin Cake by bake this cake

The recipe for this cake comes from one of my favorite tattered community church cookbooks, “St. Andrew’s Kitchen Secrets”. Yes, indeed, I think the St. Andrews church women knew exactly what they were talkin’ ’bout with their baking. I can tell from having tested so many of their delightful cakes. I love just about every single recipe they’ve shared (so I’ll share more with you in the future, since this little beauty is very hard to find nowadays). You can tell by my well-worn copy that it has gotten some good use over the decades.

St Andrews Kitchen Secrets vintage community Cookbook photo by bake this cake

Tools Needed for Harvest Gold Pumpkin Cake:
Bundt pan (10-cup bundt size)  (or muffin tin for cupcakes)
Shortening to grease the baking pan (to ensure a smooth release)
Electric Mixer (or a good whisking arm)
Spatula or wooden spoon
Measuring cups and spoons
Pastry brush (for greasing up the bundt pan)
Zesting tool (for orange zest)

Golden Pumpkin Cake in a copper bundt pan hot and homemade by bake this cake

Ingredients Needed for Harvest Gold Pumpkin Cake:

1/2 cup shortening (with bubbles pressed out)
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup canned 100% pumpkin (or fresh de-seeded, baked to tender, squeezed of liquid + pureed)
2 cups flour (we used all-purpose flour)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground dried ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (or 1/4 teaspoon grated from organic whole nutmeg, ’cause it’s stronger)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup milk (we used 2%)
Zest of 1 medium fresh orange (modern recipe update)

Old-fashioned homemade Gold Pumpkin Cake slice by bakethiscake


Directions for Harvest Gold Pumpkin Cake:

Pre-starters:  Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease the bundt pan with shortening (instead of butter or oil or cooking spray) to reduce all possibilities of a sticking cake and to ensure a perfect release, even if the pan manufacturer says “nonstick”.  I recommend using a pastry brush dipped into the shortening to spread the shortening into all the cracks and THEN a light dusting of flour.

Check out what the teens did when in the kitchen one midnight with this recipe. They say they used cooking spray on the old copper bundt pan to shorten this step (or maybe they forgot to grease the pan altogether). They just thought it was funny! Oye! I did notice, however, that they ate the whole dang cake by morning.

Pumpkin Cake Wreck bundt pan not greased by bake this cake

I also like to start off (as with most of these old-fashioned cake recipes) by setting the eggs out on the counter to come to room temperature. And I’m like a proud mama when I say that these precious brown eggs came from our little city henhouse chickens out back!

Two fresh brown eggs in a small vintage blue bowl bakethiscake

1. Beat to Light and Creamy!

Using an electric mixer, in a large bowl, beat on high-speed until light and creamy (about 3 minutes):
1/2 cup shortening (with bubbles pressed out)
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs (or 3 medium if your hens produce smaller eggs) 🙂

Vintage Golden Pumpkin Cake batter before the pumpkin by bakethiscake

2. Mix in Non-Flavored Canned Pumpkin!

Using a spatula, blend until thoroughly incorporated:
1 cup pumpkin (without spices or sugars)

Slow Food Tip: You may use fresh-baked pumpkin instead of canned pumpkin by cutting a small pumpkin in half, de-seeding it, baking it at 350 degrees until tender, scraping out the goodness from the skin, squeezing out any liquid with a cheesecloth and pureeing until smooth in a food processor or mashing with a potato masher until very fine consistency. For more info about roasting fresh pumpkin for cake baking (and links to lots of pumpkin recipes from the amazing Food Bloggers Los Angeles), see our Vintage Roasted Pumpkin Cake post.

Mixing pumpkin into Golden Pumpkin Cake Batter by bake this cake

Blend the pumpkin in with the creamed sugar-eggs-shortening until it is nice and smooth in a speckled sort of way.

Zest a medium fresh orange and stir it in to brighten the flavor quotient.

Zesting tip: Using a good quality zesting tool is a great idea, or be sure to chop the zest fine if you are using a regular grating tool. Very fine bits of orange skin is the goal here.

Vintage Golden Pumpkin Cake Batter in the bowl by bake this cake

3. Assemble and Whisk Dry Ingredients!

In a separate large bowl, assemble the dry ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground dried ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (reduce to 1/4 teaspoon for fresh-grated nutmeg)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Dry Ingredients for Vintage Golden Pumpkin Cake recipe bake this cake

Whisk the assembled dry ingredients together until everything is fully mixed.

whisking dry ingredients for vintage golden pumpkin cake recipe by bake this cake

4. Fold in Flour Ingredients and Milk!

Using a spatula, start mixing the dry ingredients into the pumpkin batter.

Tip: You may add portions of flour and (next step) of milk or just add all the flour at this point. It didn’t really seem to make a difference during our recipe testings.

Mixing dry with wet for vintage golden pumpkin cake recipe by bake this cake

Using a spatula, fold into the batter until thoroughly incorporated:
3/4 cup milk (we used 2%)Final Golden Pumpkin batter for holiday pumpkin cake by bake this cake

5. Fire it up!

Scrape the batter into a well-greased and floured bundt pan and bake at 350 for about 40 minutes  until the top of the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted at the center point comes out clean (to an internal temperature of about 195 degrees).

Tip: Being careful not to touch the pan, you could run a knife gently through the batter to rid it of any stubborn bubbles.

Harvest Gold Pumpkin Cake Batter in the Bundt pan by bake this cake

Harvest Gold Pumpkin Cupcakes Tip: Fill greased muffin tins two-thirds full and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes until tops spring back when lightly touched and toothpick prick comes out clean.

And there you have it! As gold as the gorgeous harvest moon and as cozy as a roaring fireplace or a hot cup of tea with honey. I like to serve this pumpkin cake plain or with a tiny sifting of powdered sugar on top and our testing fans agreed. However, when I served it with a dollop of cream cheese frosting, all testers thought it was mighty awesome. So you’ll have to be the judge about toppings. Let me know your preference in the Comments section if you come up with a great frosting match for this cake.

Coffee and Homemade Pumpkin Cake by bake this cake


Now it’s time to text your friends for an autumn tailgate picnic or maybe an office potluck. This little beauty is just perfect for casual sharing as well as for an elegant country-style affair — even in the big city!

I think I see a pumpkin spiced latte in my future! Bring on those pumpkin spices now!

Pumpkin Latte with a ceramic spoon by bake this cake

Our Rhode Island Reds, Gallus and Domesticus, are cackling a happy holiday season wish for you!

From our city-country house to yours!

Rhode Island Reds for homegrown eggs bakethiscake

Thank you for joining me on this vintage cake baking adventure! And please consider joining us on Instagram and Pinterest!


Leslie Macchiarella

Downtown Los Angeles DTLA sites photo collage by Leslie Macchiarella

Downtown LA sites: Standard Hotel rooftop pool, Standard Hotel lobby clock, Fig & 7th Skyscraper

You may also enjoy reading:

Roasted Pumpkin Spice Cake (
Mrs. Lincoln’s Vanilla Almond Cake (
Roasted Pumpkin Bread (
Grandma Bessie’s Savory Cheese Crackers (
Betty’s Banana Layer Cake (

5 thoughts on “Rediscovering St. Andrew’s Secret to Harvest Gold Pumpkin Cake

  1. I made your cake which is indeed golden and delicious. One could almost not taste the pumpkin flavor which is ok with me. Maybe it is because I skipped the nutmeg. The orange flavor was nice and strong.
    I will make it again but maybe use 3 large eggs instead of just 2.

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