This gluten free pumpkin marble cake is the perfect fall dessert: super easy to make, bursting with flavour and it looks simply stunning. It’s deliciously soft, moist and tender, and it’s packed full of pumpkin puree and warming fall spices. The recipe is absolutely fail-proof, and you don’t even need a stand or a hand mixer to make it!
I love a good marble cake. Creating that pretty marbled pattern is such a fun and easy way to add visual interest and extra flavour to a cake, with minimal fuss – and no-fuss baking is my favourite kind of baking, that’s for sure.
And, as it’s officially fall, it’s only right that we make a gluten free pumpkin marble cake – and let me tell you: it’s FABULOUS. It’s packed full of pumpkin puree and warming fall spices, so that every bite tastes like a sweet, cosy hug.
The addition of cocoa powder to some of the batter to create the marbled look makes it even more delicious. I honestly didn’t expect cocoa powder to go quite so incredibly well with a spiced pumpkin cake – but oh my gosh, it’s a match made in flavour heaven.
In terms of texture, this definitely isn’t a fluffy cake. It is deliciously soft, moist and tender, but the crumb is on the denser, tighter side – and pleasantly so.
It’s essentially the perfect hearty, comforting fall dessert and I for one can’t get enough of it.
And it’s SO EASY to make!!! There’s no creaming of butter and sugar, no complicated techniques or ingredients – and you don’t even need to use a stand or a hand mixer! You can easily prepare this pumpkin marble cake by hand, and it comes together in no time.
Before we get to the bits and bobs of making this amazing pumpkin cake – if you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date on the latest recipes and tips!
Note: the whole recipe, including the ingredient quantities, can be found at the bottom of this page – just scroll down to the bottom, or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.
How to make pumpkin marble cake
This gluten free pumpkin marble cake seriously couldn’t be easier to make. It’s a super reliable, fuss-free and pretty much fail-proof recipe – and you can really trust me on that, because I forgot to add the eggs while I was making it (oops?), and added them half way through, and the cake still turned out PERFECT.
Making the base pumpkin batter
Preparing the pumpkin cake batter is as easy as whisking together all the wet ingredients in one bowl, combining all the dry ingredients in another bowl, and then mixing them all together into a smooth cake batter with no flour clumps.
As you’re using melted butter rather than softened, there’s no creaming of butter and sugar or anything like that. This makes the whole process even easier and quicker. And you can prepare the batter by hand, using a large balloon whisk – no stand or hand mixer needed.
Making the cocoa batter
To create the marbled effect, you need two different colours of batter. To make the cocoa batter, transfer about one third (about 450g) of the base pumpkin batter into a separate bowl. Then, add some Dutch processed cocoa powder (sifted, if it’s a but lumpy) and extra milk, and mix it all together until evenly combined.
It’s important that you use Dutch processed cocoa powder rather than natural cocoa powder. That’s because Dutch processed cocoa powder goes through an alkalising process that gives it a neutral pH and a deeper flavour. In comparison, natural cocoa powder is acidic, which means that it will react with the raising agents – something we want to avoid in this particular recipe.
Also, you’ll notice that you need to add both cocoa powder and extra milk to the cocoa batter. That’s because cocoa powder is a dry ingredient and without adding the extra milk, it would thicken the batter too much. When creating the marbled effect, we want both batters to be of a similar, fairly loose consistency – that’s why we need to add the extra milk. This will make the process of assembling the marble cake easier and it will result in a much prettier marbled pattern in the final, baked cake.
Creating the marbled effect
There are several ways of making a marble cake (different marbling techniques), and they all result in slightly different marble patterns.
For example, in my marbled banana bread recipe, I alternately dolloped the plain and chocolate batters into the loaf pan and then swirled them around with a skewer or knife to create the marbled effect. You can see the end result here.
For this pumpkin marble cake, I used a different marbling technique. Here, we’ll essentially create alternating layers of the pumpkin and the cocoa batter, which results in a gorgeous wavy “zebra pattern” that you can see below:
To do this, spoon some of the pumpkin batter into a lined loaf pan, and spread it out into a fairly even layer on the bottom. Then, top the pumpkin batter with 3-4 very generous spoonfuls of the cocoa batter, followed by 3-4 generous spoonfuls of the pumpkin batter, and so on.
In between creating these alternating layers, I like to gently shake or jiggle the loaf pan, to help the batter settle and spread into every nook and cranny of the loaf pan.
Continue this process until you’ve used up all of the batter. There is no exact, set number of layers (or an exact amount of batter per each layer) that you should aim for.
The greater the number of layers, the thinner the “zebra stripes” in the final baked cake will be, and the more intricate the marble pattern. I ended up making a total of 9 layers, 5 pumpkin and 4 cocoa ones. I recommend starting and ending with the pumpkin batter, for the prettiest final result.
After you’ve added the final layer of cake batter, gently smooth out the top and shake or jiggle the loaf pan again, to get a nice, even top. You don’t need to swirl the batter – as the cake bakes, the batter will rise due to the action of the raising agents, and this will create that gorgeous marbled look you can see in the finished cake.
How long does the pumpkin marble cake need to bake?
Oven temperature & baking time
Once you’ve assembled the pumpkin marble cake, you’ll need to bake it at 350ºF (180ºC) for about 1 hour 30 minutes to 1 hour 35 minutes. This is quite a long baking time, but it’s necessary if you want the cake to be fully baked through.
Due to the long baking time, you’ll need to cover the top of the cake with a sheet of aluminium foil (shiny side up) to prevent it from burning. Cover it once you see it becoming a deep golden brown colour, and then continue baking until done.
Note that the oven temperature above refers to a conventional/non-fan oven. If you’re using a convection/fan oven, reduce this temperature by 25ºF (20ºC). This is a general rule of thumb that holds true for most recipes.
The toothpick test
The best way to determine when your cake is done is to insert a toothpick, a skewer or a cake tester into the centre of the cake: it should come out clean or with a few moist crumbs attached.
If it’s covered in any half-baked batter, return the cake to the oven and continue baking until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Once baked, you’ll need to allow the pumpkin cake to cool in the loaf pan for about 10-15 minutes before transferring it out of the pan and onto a wire rack, where it will continue to cool.
If you plan on serving the cake as-is, then you can enjoy it either warm or cooled completely to room temperature – it’ll be ridiculously delicious in either case.
You can also add a dark chocolate ganache glaze (like I did, for example, with my gluten free triple chocolate loaf cake). In that case, make sure that your cake is cooled *completely* to room temperature before adding the ganache glaze on top.
Regardless of how you decide to serve it, I really hope you’ll love this pumpkin marble cake as much as I do. It’s already become a huge favourite in our house, and I just know that I’ll be making it over and over (and over) again.
It’s really the perfect fall dessert: easy to make, packed with flavour and it looks simply stunning.
More amazing pumpkin desserts
If you’re looking for more incredibly delicious pumpkin desserts, you’re definitely in the right place!
- Gluten Free Pumpkin Roll
- The Best Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread
- The Perfect Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Gluten Free Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
- Chewy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie
- Easy Vegan Pumpkin Pie
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Gluten Free Pumpkin Marble Cake
Pumpkin cake batter:
- 300 g (1½ cups) caster/superfine or granulated sugar
- 170 g (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until lukewarm
- 340 g (1½ cups) canned pumpkin puree
- 120 g (½ cup) whole, full-fat milk, room temperature
- 2 US large/UK medium eggs, room temperature
- 240 g (2 cups) plain gluten free flour blend (I used Doves Farm Freee plain gluten free flour that doesn't have any xanthan gum added. You can also mix your own gluten free flour blend using this recipe. Note that for this homemade blend, 1 cup = 150g, so ideally use a kitchen scale for best results.)
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp xanthan gum (Omit if your gluten free flour blend already contains xanthan gum.)
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 20 g (3½ tbsp) Dutch processed cocoa powder, sifted
- 20 g (4 tsp) whole, full-fat milk, room temperature
- Adjust the oven rack to the middle position, pre-heat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and line a 2lb/900g (9x5-inch/23x13cm) loaf pan with parchment/baking paper.
Making the pumpkin batter:
- In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, melted butter, pumpkin puree, milk and eggs until well combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the gluten free flour blend, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet and, using a large ballon whisk, mix them together until you get a smooth, fairly loose cake batter with no flour clumps.
Making the cocoa batter:
- Transfer about ⅓ of the pumpkin batter (about 450g) into a separate bowl, and add the cocoa powder and extra milk. Mix until well combined.Tip: The addition of the extra milk along with the cocoa powder will ensure that the cocoa batter has a similar, loose consistency to the pumpkin batter.
Assembling the cake & creating the marbled effect:
- Spoon some of the pumpkin batter (about 4-5 generous spoonfuls) into the lined loaf pan, and spread it out into a fairly even layer on the bottom.
- Create alternating layers of the pumpkin and cocoa batters by topping the pumpkin batter with 3-4 generous spoonfuls of the cocoa batter, followed by 3-4 generous spoonfuls of the pumpkin batter, and so on. (See blog post for photos.)Tip: In between creating these alternating layers, I recommend gently shaking or jiggling the loaf pan, to help the batter settle and spread into every nook and cranny of the loaf pan.
- Continue this process until you’ve used up all of the batter. Tip 1: There is no exact, set number of layers (or an exact amount of batter per each layer) that you should aim for. The greater the number of layers, the thinner the “zebra stripes” in the final baked cake will be, and the more intricate the marble pattern. I ended up making a total of 9 layers, 5 pumpkin and 4 cocoa ones. Tip 2: I recommend starting and ending with the pumpkin batter, for the prettiest final result.
- After you’ve added the final layer of cake batter, gently smooth out the top and shake or jiggle the loaf pan again, to get a nice, even top. Tip: You don’t need to swirl the batter – as the cake bakes, the batter will rise due to the action of the raising agents, and this will create that gorgeous marbled look you can see in the finished cake in the blog post.
Baking & cooling the cake:
- Once assembled, bake the cake at 350ºF (180ºC) for about 1 hour 30 minutes - 1 hour 35 minutes, or until well risen, golden brown on top and an inserted toothpick/skewer/cake tester comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs attached.Due to the long baking time, you’ll need to cover the top of the cake with a sheet of aluminium foil (shiny side up) to prevent it from burning. Cover it once you see it becoming a deep golden brown colour, and then continue baking until done.
- Once baked, allow the cake to cool in the loaf pan for about 10-15 minutes before transferring it out of the pan and onto a wire rack.
Serving & storage:
- You can serve the cake either warm or cooled completely to room temperature.
- The gluten free pumpkin marble cake keeps well in a closed container in a cool dry place for 3-4 days.