Delectable layers of moist Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and covered with a glaze of salted caramel sauce. Top it off with glazed pecans and you have a gorgeous layered cake ready to be displayed on your holiday table. Not only is it beautiful to look at, but once your guests dive into a slice of this lusciousness, they'll be raving about this pumpkin cake for weeks.
Pumpkin "anything" during this time of year is a winner in everyone's Fall recipes. Pumpkin spice adds the perfect ingredient to a wide variety of desserts, breads, and even cocktails. One of my favorite cocktails is this Pumpkin Spice Martini which is loaded with pumpkin flavors. A favorite and popular holiday dessert is this Pumpkin Cake Roll. It's perfect for the holidays.
For the Cake
- All-Purpose Flour - When measuring flour, fluff it while it is in its canister, then spoon it into the measuring cup. Use the flat straight edge of a dinner knife to scrape off the excess flour.
- Leavening Agents - Baking Powder and Baking Soda are chemical leavening agents that cause the batter to rise when baked.
- Salt and Five Spices - Cinnamon, Ginger, Ground Cloves, Fresh or Ground Nutmeg, and Cardamon
- Pumpkin Puree - Go with the canned because it is so convenient and there is really not a lot of difference between it and fresh.
- Granulated Sugar
- Canola Oil - I chose oil instead of butter for a more moist and tender cake.
- Eggs - Make sure and bring the eggs to room temperature before adding them.
- Vanilla Extract - Choose pure vanilla extract instead of imitation if at all possible.
- Crean Cheese - Room Temperature
- Butter - Room Temperature
- Powdered Sugar
- Thick Salted Caramel Sauce - You can use store-bought caramel sauce, but if you do, spend a little extra on the more expensive, thick sauce.
- Pure Vanilla Extract
- Caramel Extract (optional)
- Glazed Pecans (for topping
How To Make Pumpkin Cake
- Prepare the Cake Pans - Tear off a large sheet of parchment paper and place the bottom of the cake pan on top of it. Take a marker and mark around its parameter. Cut it with scissors and you have a perfectly fitted sheet to go in the bottom. Prepare two 8-inch round cake pans by spraying both the bottom and the sides with Pam before adding the parchment paper.
- Combine the dry ingredients - flour, spices, salt, and leavening agents. Make sure these are well incorporated so it will give consistency throughout the batter. Using a whisk or a sifter to combine everything works great.
- Mix the wet ingredients. With a hand mixer, beat the pumpkin puree, sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla until well combined. Beating the wet ingredients together before adding them to the dry ones is an important part of baking. Otherwise, you will end up overworking the flour causing a dense and somewhat gummy baked product.
- Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture. Make a well in the dry ingredients and fold in the pumpkin mixture until completely combined and the flour is no longer seen. This will result in a light and airy cake.
- Fill the round pans with Batter - Fill each cake pan ¾ full to give a nice tall dome. That gave me plenty of room to level off the top part and still had plenty of depth left to make two halves per round cake. This recipe makes plenty of extra batter. Therefore, I was able to make a few mini bundt cakes as well. You could do the same for cupcakes.
- Bake the cakes in a 350°F Oven - Because these round cakes are so thick, they need to bake longer than usual. Mine stayed in a 350°F oven for 55 minutes. Once baked, let the cakes sit for about five minutes before removing them from the pans. Run a knife around the edge of the pan before inverting them onto a baking rack. Let them completely cool before icing and assembling the layers.
How to Make the Cream Cheese Frosting
- Combine Cream Cheese, Butter, and Powdered Sugar - Start with room-temperature butter and cream cheese. Beat the butter and cream cheese before adding the powdered sugar. Continue until the mixture is smooth, otherwise, you can end up with lumps in your icing.
- Add the Caramel Sauce - Add thick caramel sauce to the cream cheese frosting and beat until well combined. My homemade Salted Caramel Sauce is so easy to make and works great in this recipe. Make sure it is completely cooled before you add it to the icing otherwise, the butter and cream cheese will soften too much making it difficult to frost the cake.
How to Layer the Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Slice the Cake Layers - When cutting, first of all, slice off the domed top with a long serrated knife. Use a “lazy susan” or a cake turntable when cutting the different layers. Once the domed top is off, eyeball about halfway down the cake and insert your serrated knife horizontally and turn the lazy susan as you saw back and forth. This gives you a more consistently sliced layer.
- Frost between the Layers - Start with about a heaping cup of icing on the bottom layer and spread it around. Make sure there is plenty around the edge. Continue with each layer, gently pressing down on it while paying attention to keep it level. Add another heaping cup of cream cheese frosting with each layer until you get to the top and then wait.
- While frosting the first three layers, it doesn't matter if you place the cut side up or down. But when I get to the top layer, I always use the layer that was the bottom part of the cake. I place the cut side down giving me a smooth, consistent, and even top for this layered pumpkin spice cake. (see photo below)
- Create a "Crumb Barrier & Freeze - A crumb barrier is a thin layer of frosting on the top and sides of the layered cake causing all the little crumbs to get caught in this initial frosting. The whole cake goes in the freezer for about 20 minutes until it is nice and firm. This step makes for a clean and crumb-free finished cake.
- Frost the Entire Cake with the Cream Cheese Frosting - Once you've pulled the cake out of the freezer, you're ready to frost the entire layered spice cake. Evenly spread about ½ cup of frosting on top of the cake. Next work down and around the sides of the cake with as much frosting as needed to cover the sides. With a lazy Susan or a cake turntable, use the offset spatula while turning the cake to get a nice smooth look. Finish smoothing out the top. Return the cake to the freezer for 20 more minutes.
- Drizzle with Caramel Sauce - You want the cake really chilled when you begin to apply the caramel. If you are using a really thick caramel sauce, make sure that it is slightly warm but not too warm when you begin to drizzle it down the sides. Grab a spoonful and let it fall from the spoon while you slowly turn the cake (see above photo) until all the sides have drippings down them. Finish it off by spreading more caramel sauce on top of the cake.
- Add glazed pecans as the finishing touch - The crowning touch of this Layered Pumpkin Cake Recipe is the glazed pecans that adorn it with textured loveliness. Pick up a bag of glazed pecan pieces in your grocery store and sprinkle them around the top and bottom edge of the cake.
Can You make the Pumpkin Cake Ahead of Time?
The baked round cakes can be made in advance and frozen. Make sure and cool them completely, wrap them in foil and place each of them in a jumbo ziplock bag. These will last in the freezer for two months.
The Cream Cheese Frosting can also be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. You'll need to let it set out and come to room temperature for about an hour when ready to use it because it will have hardened while in the fridge. You may want to use a mixer and fluff it up a bit.
The Caramel Sauce can be made ahead of time as well. Follow these instructions on how to store it from my Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce Recipe.
If want to make the entire cake ahead of time, store it in a cake container or carefully cover it with plastic wrap. It will last in the refrigerator for up to five days.
I came across this recipe on Glorious Treats years ago when I was looking for a Fall dessert and I fell in love with it. There are a few things I have changed over time but the original recipe and inspiration came from their site.
Tips for Pumpkin Spice Cake Recipe
- Use parchment paper on the bottom of the cake pans. This prevents your baked cake from sticking to the bottom of the pan and allows it to fall out easily when turned upside down. Tear off a large sheet of parchment paper and place the bottom of the cake pan on top of it. Take a marker and mark around its parameter. Cut it with scissors and you have a perfectly fitted sheet to go in the bottom.
- Fill the pans ¾ full. Normally you should fill cake pans about ⅔ full and give the batter room to expand. But because I am cutting each of these round cakes to produce a four-layered finished product, I wanted them extra tall. I ended up filling the pans a little over ¾ full.
- Make cupcakes or mini bundt cakes with the extra batter. This recipe makes more than enough to fill the cake pans with batter to spare.
- How to tell if the cake is done baking. There are two ways. First, use a toothpick and insert it into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean with no batter marks, then you're good to go. A few crumbs are fine. Second, if you gently press in the middle of the cake and it springs back (a pillowy effect), the cake is fully baked.
- Completely cool the cakes before cutting them. Don't skip this step. If the cakes are still warm, they are more flimsy and fragile to work with.
- Don't throw away the cut dome portions of each cake. These are perfect to throw in the freezer and use later to make a pumpkin trifle. Or, like me, you can stand at the counter and eat it right then.
- Bring the butter and cream cheese to room temperature when making the frosting. This creates a smooth finish for the frosting and prevents it from being lumpy
- How to keep the cake stand clean when frosting. Cut three pieces of parchment paper and lay them down in a triangle on the cake stand before placing the cake layers on top. This way, it will catch all the drippings. When you are finished frosting the cake, carefully pull out each piece of parchment and it will leave you with a spotless stand.
I've made this scrumptious Spice Pumpkin Cake on many occasions and I've always gotten oooh's and ahhhh's from my guests. It's on my Thanksgiving menu list again this year. It really is worth the little bit of extra work that comes with a layered cake because it is so dang rich and decadent.
More Holiday Dessert Recipes
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Pumpkin Spice Cake Recipe
Delectable layers of pumpkin cake frosted with salted caramel cream cheese icing and covered with a glaze of caramel sauce. Top it off with glazed pecans and you have a gorgeous layered cake ready to be displayed on your holiday table.
- Prep Time: 45 minutes
- Cook Time: 55 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
- Yield: 16 slices 1x
- Category: Baking
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: Baked Goods
- 4 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 3 teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1 ½ teaspoon Salt
- 3 ½ teaspoons Cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon Ground Ginger
- ½ teaspoon Ground Cloves
- 1 teaspoon Fresh Grated Nutmeg or ½ teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon Ground Cardamon
- 2 - 15 oz Cans of Pumpkin Puree
- 4 cups Sugar
- 1 ½ cups Canola Oil
- 8 Eggs
- 4 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 - 8 oz Cream Cheese (room temperature)
- 8 tablespoons Butter (room temperature)
- 8 cups Powdered Sugar
- ½ cup Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce
- ½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract (1 teaspoon if not using caramel extract)
- ½ teaspoon Caramel Extract optional)
- Glazed Pecans for topping
For the Pumpkin Cake
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Cut pieces of round parchment paper to fit the bottom of 2 - 8-inch round cake pans. Grease the pans and lay the parchment paper in the bottom.
- Add 4 cups all-purpose flour, 3 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, 3 ½ teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, ½ teaspoon ground cloves, 1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg (or ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg), and ½ teaspoon ground cardamon to a large mixing bowl and whisk together.
- In another large mixing bowl add 2-15 ounce cans of pumpkin puree, 4 cups sugar, 1 ½ cups canola oil, 8 eggs, and 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract. Beat well with a hand mixer until the ingredients are combined.
- Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until the flour is no longer seen and all the ingredients are combined.
- Pour the batter (¾ full) into two greased round cake pans. There is enough leftover batter to make extra mini bundt cakes or cupcakes.
- Bake for 50-55 minutes until the middle of the cake springs back when touched. (Bake the mini bundt pans for around 25 minutes or cupcakes for 15-20 minutes.)
- Remove and let cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pans. Invert the pans onto a cooling rack and remove the parchment paper. Let the cakes cool completely before frosting.
For the Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
- Combine 2-8 ounces packages of cream cheese and 8 tablespoons of butter in a large mixing bowl. Beat until well combined and smooth.
- Add powdered sugar in 2 cup increments until all 8 cups are incorporated. Beat until smooth.
- Add ½ cup cooled caramel sauce, ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract, and ½ teaspoon caramel extract. Beat until completely combined. Set Aside
Frosting the Layered Pumpkin Cake
- Using a lazy susan or a cake turntable works perfectly when cutting the cakes. Cut off the domed part of the top of both cakes with a long serrated bread knife and discard or freeze for a trifle later.
- Measure halfway up of each round cake and cut horizontally through the middle while turning the lazy susan and continue cutting until completely separated.
- Layer the bottom cake section onto a cake plate and frost with about a cup of cream cheese frosting. Continue with each section but do not add the frosting to the top layer yet.
- When you get to the last layer, create a crumb barrier by frosting the entire cake with a thin layer of icing.
- Set the cake in the freezer for 20 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the freezer and frost the top and the sides with an offset spatula as you turn the lazy susan to get a perfectly smooth surface.
- Press glazed pecans around the bottom of the cake - about 2 inches up from the bottom.
- Return to the freezer for 20 minutes because you want the cake cold when you apply the caramel sauce. The sauce should be slightly warm in order to drizzle well but not too warm that it is runny.
- Work your way around the top edge of the entire cake to make drips down the sides. Then drizzle the rest of the caramel on the top and spread to cover the top of the cake.
- Sprinkle the glazed pecans around the top edge of the cake - about 2 inches in.
- Return the cake to the freezer for 10 minutes until the caramel is well set.
- Parchment paper prevents your batter from sticking to the bottom of the pan and allows the baked cake to fall out easily when turned upside down. Tear off a large sheet of parchment paper and place the bottom of the cake pan on top of it. Take a marker and mark around its parameter. Cut it with scissors and you have a perfectly fitted sheet to go in the bottom.
- You want to make sure all the spices, sugar, salt, and leavening agent are well incorporated into the flour. Using a whisk or a sifter to combine everything works great.
- Normally you should fill cake pans about ⅔ full and give the batter room to expand. But because I am cutting each of these round cakes to produce a four-layered finished product, I wanted them extra tall. I ended up filling the pans a little over ¾ full.
- This recipe makes plenty of extra batter. Therefore, you are able to make several mini bundt cakes or cupcakes as well.
- There are two ways to tell when the cakes are done. First, use a toothpick and insert it into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean with no batter marks, then you are good to go. A few crumbs are fine. Secondly, if you gently press in the middle of the cake and it springs back (a pillowy effect), then you know the cake is fully baked.
- Let the baked cakes sit for about five minutes before removing them from the pans. Run a knife around the edge of the pan before inverting them onto a baking rack. Let them completely cool before icing and assembling the layers.
- When mixing the icing, start with room temperature butter and cream cheese and beat them until they are really smooth. This way you'll not end up with lumps in your icing.
- Make sure the salted caramel sauce is completely cooled before adding it to the icing, otherwise the butter and cream cheese will soften too much making it more challenging to frost the cake.
- Make sure the round baked cakes are completely cooled before cutting the layers. If they are still warm, they're more flimsy and fragile to work with.
- Slice off the domed top with a long serrated knife. Using a "lazy susan" or cake turntable helps tremendously when cutting the different layers. Once the domed top is off, eyeball about halfway down the cake and insert your serrated knife horizontally and turn the lazy susan as you saw back and forth.
- If you want to keep the cake stand nice and clean while icing, you can cut three pieces of parchment paper and lay them down in a triangle on the cake stand before placing the cake on top. This way, it will catch all the drippings. When you are finished, carefully pull out each piece of parchment and it will leave you with a spotless stand.
- While icing the first three layers, it doesn't matter if you place the cut side up or down. But when you get to the top layer, use the layer that was the bottom part of the cake. I place the cut side down, giving me a smooth, consistent, even top for my cake.
- A crumb barrier is a thin layer of icing on the top and sides of the layered cake causing all the little crumbs to get caught in this initial icing. Then put the whole cake in the freezer for about 20 minutes until it is nice and firm. This step makes for a clean and crumb-free finished cake.
- Serving Size: 1 large slice of cake
- Calories: 909
- Sugar: 80 g
- Sodium: 619 mg
- Fat: 41 g
- Saturated Fat: 13 g
- Unsaturated Fat: 25 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 160 g
- Fiber: 15 g
- Protein: 9 g
- Cholesterol: 138 mg
Keywords: pumpkin spice cake, pumpkin coffee cake, pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting, pumpkin spice cake recipe