Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cake
(This recipe is part of the “Ultimate Comfort Food Experience“)
Layered Cakes Always Seemed a Daunting Task
I was always afraid of layered cakes. I’m not sure why. Maybe because they seemed so daunting of a task. Or maybe because I wanted a one-pan dessert where I could slap some icing on it and stuff it in my mouth within five minutes.
Helping a Friend Out
Until recently, I’ve made very few layered cakes in my lifetime. The one that sticks out most in my memory was about three years ago. I was helping out a friend who was having a 70th Birthday celebration for her husband. She asked if I could whip up a cake for her and gave me the recipe. Eeeek! It was a layered cake. But of course, you do things for friends that you might not do for yourself. (That’s another topic for another time.) I was a little intimidated because it wasn’t just for my family to eat. They could forgive a possible disaster. But this cake was going to feed probably 40-50 people, some of which were perfect strangers.
Layered Cakes Should Not Look Like the Leaning Tower of Pisa
Cakes in themselves are a cinch. You whip up the batter, pour it into the pan, bake it for a bit and there ya go. It is the cutting of the layers that I was a little intimidated by and the possibility of it looking like the Leaning Tower of Pisa when it was all said and done. But I took on the task and ventured into new territory.
You would have been impressed! No leaning tower. Well … except for the little mishap while transporting it to the birthday bash. But you have to understand, this thing was massive and weighed a ton because it was made with 16-inch pans. If you know anything about round cakes, that’s huge. And to top it off (no pun intended), it was four “stories” high.
Transporting a Layered Cake Can Be Disastrous
Whew, I made it safely to the car and even traveled about 20 minutes with it securely on my lap. Then it happened. I reached for the door handle, ugh!! That masterpiece went right into the side of the interior door. What did I do? You better believe it, I scraped that mountain of frosting off the door. This cake was going to get eaten, one way or another!
If you care to know, everything actually turned out okay. The venue was dark, thank goodness, so nobody could really see what a messy tower it was. And although it was not a pretty sight, it tasted amazing, if I say so myself.
Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cake
One of my favorite desserts to make now, even after that fiasco, is layered cakes. And this Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cake is probably my most popular. It is beyond rich and decadent. I know it’s hard to believe, but honestly, one piece is almost too much. You have to pace yourself when eating it.
I came across this recipe on Glorious Treats some time ago when I was looking for a Fall dessert and I fell in love with it. There are only a few things I have changed over time but the original recipe and inspiration came from Glorious Treats. Check out their site for other delicious recipes.
This Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cake Always Turns Out Gorgeous
I’ve made this layered caked quite a few times and it always comes out gorgeous. And the “ooh’s and aah’s” I get are so worth its work. The batter makes more than enough for two eight-inch round pans with extra leftover. In addition to the Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cake, I usually make several mini bundt cakes. You could make a whole batch of just those if you like.
Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting!
The “icing on the cake,” Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting is to die for! It is what makes this cake so scrumptious. But of course, it’s made of butter, cream cheese, and salted caramel. Then you cover the whole cake with the caramel sauce and throw on some glazed pecans. See, I told you it was over the top!! I’m making myself hungry! I think I’m gonna head to my kitchen right now and bake these tiers of deliciousness. I would love for you to join me.Print
Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cake
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.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 55 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
- Yield: 12 slices 1x
- Category: Baking
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: Baked Goods
- 4 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 3 teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 3 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon Ground Ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon Freshly Ground Nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon Cardamon
- 2 – 15 oz Cans of Pumpkin Puree
- 4 cups Sugar
- 1 1/2 cups Canola Oil
- 8 Eggs
- 4 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 – 8 oz Cream Cheese (room temperature)
- 8 tablespoons Butter (room temperature)
- 8 cups Powdered Sugar
- 1/2 cup Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce (click here)
- 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1/2 teaspoon Caramel Extract
- 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 the dry ingredients to a medium size bowl and stir together.
- In a large bowl add the pumpkin, sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Beat well with a hand mixer until the ingredients are combined.
- Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and stir only until the ingredients are combined.
- Pour the batter (3/4 full) into two greased round cake pans. There is enough leftover batter to make 6 mini bundt cakes.
- Bake for 50-55 minutes until the middle of the cake springs back when touched. (Bake the mini bundt pans for around 25 minutes.)
- Remove and let cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pans. Invert the pans onto a cooling rack. Let the cakes cool completely before frosting.
For the Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
- Combine cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl. Beat until well combined. Add powdered sugar in 2 cup increments until all 8 cups are incorporated. Beat until smooth.
- Add cooled caramel sauce, vanilla, and caramel extract. Beat until completely combined.
Frosting the Layered Pumpkin Cake
- Using a lazy susan works perfectly when cutting the cakes. Cut the rounded top of both cakes off with a long serrated bread knife and discard. Cut each cake horizontally through the middle until completely separated.
- Layer the bottom cake section onto a cake plate and frost with the desired amount of icing. Continue with each section. When you get to the last layer, frost the top and the sides with a thin layer of icing to make a barrier for the crumbs. 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 the glazed pecans around the bottom of the cake – about 2 inches up.
- Return to the freezer for 20 minutes because you want the cake cold when you apply the caramel sauce. The sauce should be semi-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 cake. Sprinkle the glazed pecans around the top edge of cake – about 2 inches in.
- Return the cake to the freezer for 10 minutes until the caramel is well set. This cake does better if you refrigerate it.
- Parchment paper is going to be your best friend with this recipe. It 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, the sugar, salt, and the raising agent are well incorporated into the flour. This gives it consistency throughout the batter. Using a whisk or a sifter to combine everything works great.
- When adding the dry ingredients to the wet ones, mix only until combined, only until the flour mixture is no longer seen. This will result in a light and airy cake.
- Normally you should fill cake pans about 2/3 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 3/4 full.
- This recipe makes plenty of extra batter. Therefore, I was able to make several mini bundt cakes 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.
- Incorporate little by little the powdered sugar into the icing. You’ll not want to dump all eight cups in at once. Start with two cups and beat it with a hand mixture. Continue adding two cups at a time until all the powdered sugar has been used.
- 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 difficult 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” 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 and 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.
- Drizzle the caramel by edging the top of the iced cake with the sauce while letting it drizzle down the sides in columns. There’s no rhyme or reason to the drippings. Grab a spoonful of Salted Caramel Sauce, let it fall from the spoon while you slowly turn the cake until all the sides have drippings down them. Finish it off with spooning and spreading more caramel sauce on top of the cake.
- Serving Size: 1/12 of cake
- Calories: 630
- Sugar: 70 g
- Sodium: 623 mg
- Fat: 25 g
- Saturated Fat: 12 g
- Unsaturated Fat: 8 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 95 g
- Fiber: 3 g
- Protein: 7 g
- Cholesterol: 142 mg
Keywords: pumpkin cake, fall desserts, fall recipes, salted caramel sauce, caramel sauce, layered cakes, thanksgiving, holiday baking