1 Preheat the oven and prep the cake pan: Preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease and lightly flour a 9×13-inch cake pan or spray the pan liberally with nonstick baking spray. Set the pan aside.
2 Sift together the dry ingredients: In a large bowl, use a spatula or whisk to combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and salt.
Fold a piece of parchment or foil in half and set it next to the bowl. Use a measuring cup to scoop the mixture into a sifter and sift the ingredients together 3 to 4 times over the parchment. When finished, transfer the dry ingredients back to the bowl. Aerating the flour this way helps the cake bake up as light as possible. Set the dry ingredients aside.
3 Combine the eggs and sugar: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl, whip together the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and the beater with a rubber spatula and continue mixing until the eggs and sugar become thick and pale yellow, or about 2 1/2 minutes more.
When properly mixed, the beater should leave ribbons in the egg mixture as it passes through it.
4 Add the butter and pumpkin: To the bowl with the eggs and sugar, add the melted butter and pumpkin puree. Mix on low speed just until combined and no yellow streaks remain, or 1 minute. Scrape down both the bowl and the beater.
5 Add the dry ingredients: Add all of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and blend on low speed for 30 seconds. Stop the mixer. Using a rubber spatula fold in the rest of the flour until it’s completely mixed in.
Hand-mixing at the end prevents you from overworking the gluten in the flour, which will produce a tough cake. The batter should be the consistency of pancake batter.
5 Fill the cake pan: Use the rubber spatula to scrape the cake batter into the prepared cake pan.
6 Bake the cake: Transfer the cake pan to the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the sides of the cake have pulled away slightly from the pan.
7 Cool the cake: Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a wire cooling rack. Allow the cake to cool in the pan completely, about 1 hour. If you plan to serve the cake on a platter, let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Then turn the cake out of the pan onto a cooling rack, allowing it to cool completely.
8 Make the Cream Cheese Frosting: In bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a mixing bowl and using an electric beater), add the butter and cream cheese. Beat on low speed for 1 minute.
Once the cheese and butter are smooth, use a rubber spatula to scrape down the bowl and paddle, then add 3 cups of powdered sugar and vanilla to the bowl. Beat on low speed for 2-3 minutes, or until smooth. Stop the mixer and scrape down, both, the bowl and the paddle.
Add the remaining cup of sugar, if desired to thicken, beating for an additional 1-2 minutes or until fluffy and combined.
The frosting should be thick and hold a peak when the spatula is lifted from it.
9 Frost the cake: After the frosting has been made and the cake has cooled completely, use an off-set spatula to spread the frosting over the surface of the cake. Don’t forget the swoops!
Sprinkle the cake lightly with pumpkin pie spice or grate fresh nutmeg and cinnamon over the surface, if desired.
Though the cake is best served the same day, leftovers may be kept, covered, overnight at room temperature. After 24 hours, it’s best to store it, covered, in the refrigerator.