Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Original Post 11/5/20: Pumpkin spice and caramel are some of my favorite fall flavors. My recipe is adapted from this cake recipe from Life, Love, and Sugar. I picked it because it had plenty of pumpkin in the cake batter and a lighter version of cream cheese frosting. My only changes are adding a caramel filling and changing a few spices. And, of course, the marzipan pumpkins

THE Ingredients
  • Pumpkin Cake
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 3T vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs and 1 egg white, room temperature
  • 2½ cups AP flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice 
  • 1¾ cups pumpkin puree 
  • Pumpkin-Caramel Filling
  • 1½T pumpkin puree
  • 5T caramel
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 2½ cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (or more to taste)
  • 16 oz (2 cups) cream cheese, softened
  1. First, make the cakes. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease 2-3 pans (I used 2 6″, the original recipe suggests 3 8″) with oil or baking spray, and line with parchment paper.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and oil, mixing until combined. Add the eggs (+ 1 white) in 2 batches, beating and scraping after each addition.
  3. In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Add to the wet ingredients, alternating with the pumpkin and mixing between each. It should be dry (mix), pumpkin (mix), dry (mix). Everything will combine to make a thick batter.
  4. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 20-30 minutes (varies by pan size). You’re looking for a few crumbs to cling to a toothpick.
  5. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes, then invert onto a wire cooling rack.
  6. Next, make the pumpkin caramel. In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine all ingredients. Microwave for 30 seconds, or until liquid and stir-able. (Alternately, cook in a saucepan until bubbly and combined)
  7. Finally, make the frosting immediately prior to assembling. Add the cream, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon to a bowl. Whip on high speed until you have soft and shiny peaks.
  8. In another bowl, beat the cream cheese with a splash of cream until light and smooth. Add to the whipped cream mixture, and whip again until stiff peaks form. Make sure there are no lumps.
  9. Assemble: Place the first cake layer on a rotating cake stand. Spread a thin layer of the caramel mixture over the cake, then a thin layer of frosting. Repeat 2 more times.
  10. Crumb coat the cake with a very thin layer of frosting. Chill for 20 minutes. Chill the remaining frosting with the cake so it doesn’t melt.
  11. Apply the final coat of frosting, smoothing down. Add piped decorations and marzipan pumpkins as desired. (Note: I had a lot of leftover frosting. If you frosted more generously and/or had bigger cakes, you might use it all. I think the recipe makes plenty.)

I gave this cake 4.5/5 stars because I thought it was delicious and pretty. The .5 star is missing for 2 reasons: #1) because I am not a fan of cream cheese frosting. I enjoyed this one more than most, as it was lighter and I was very heavy-handed with the cinnamon (way more than 1 tsp). It goes well with the cake, so if you like or are ambivalent towards cream cheese frosting, you’ll love it. #2) because as adorable as the pumpkins were, marzipan was not the best choice. After 24 hrs in the fridge, they bled color and flavor onto the frosting. If I can find fondant or modeling chocolate, I will use that in the future. All in all, it was tasty, looked good, and was pretty easy (especially if you skip the filling, which I barely noticed).

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