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.
- 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 Sauce
- 1/2 cup Water
- 2 cups Sugar
- 1 cup Heavy Cream (room temperature)
- 4 tablespoons Butter (room temperature)
- 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 – 8 oz Cream Cheese (cold)
- 8 tablespoons Butter (cold)
- 8 cups Powdered Sugar
- 1/2 cup Salted Caramel Sauce (from above)
- 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 until they are completely 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 Sauce
- Combine water and sugar in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir only until combined. For the rest of the cooking process, do not stir. You will be tempted but I’ve tried cooking caramel sauce several different ways and this is a no-fail process for me. Cook until it becomes a deep amber color, anywhere from 12-15 minutes. Watch closely once the sugar mixture turns to a light brown color. It can get away from you and burn quite quickly after this stage.
- Add the heavy cream. Make sure it is room temperature, otherwise, it will boil out of control. Whisk vigorously for about 1 minute.
- Remove from heat and add the butter and salt. Whisk until it is completely combined.
- Set aside to cool.
For the Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
- Combine cold cream cheese and cold 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.