Pumpkin Cake with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
Pumpkins are everywhere I turn nowadays. It seems like I just finished traipsing through the Pumpkin Patch with Samuel and Shoshana and now I see little itty bitty ones in the produce aisle as well as can after can of pumpkin puree lined up in several places throughout the grocery store.
Even I could figure out that perhaps it really was time to think about how I will incorporate pumpkin into my Thanksgiving meal. Should I go with bread pudding, traditional pudding, pie, cake or cut out the itty bitty pumpkins and bake something in them?
These are the tough decisions that can keep me up at night; as I am sure do the same for you, too. Ultimately, when I realized that the desserts on my menu were relatively low to the table (ie. Pecan Turtle Tart, Cranberry Cheesecake, Chocolate Pudding..,) a pumpkin cake became a “must have.” That left one other question to be answered…what about the frosting? I love all things caramel, so a caramel cream cheese frosting immediately came to mind.
I want my cakes to have a look that screams “EAT ME!” which means that the cake needs to be dressed up a bit. Fortunately, wrapping the cake with a giant ribbon of toasted pecans does exactly this.
People often tell me that baking and decorating a two or four layer cake seems insurmountable. This cake will prove how easy it really is.
So as you listen to the “oohs” and “aaahhhs” and “you must be exhausted” at your Thanksgiving table when you present your very own Pumpkin Cake with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting, give a big smile and say “Really, it was a piece of cake.”
|Pumpkin Cake with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
- Pumpkin cake:
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1¼ cups light brown sugar, packed
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Caramel cream cheese frosting:
- 12 tablespoons butter, divided
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoon light brown sugar, packed
- 5 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1¾ cups confectioners sugar
- 1¾ cups toasted pecan halves, broken into pieces
- For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease two 9” pans (I use Pan Grease.) Line the pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and cloves. Set aside.
- Cream the butter with both sugars for 3 minutes on medium high speed, scraping down the bowl periodically. The mixture will look similar to maple sugar cubes that have been mashed down. Add the eggs and mix until combined.
- With the mixer on low speed, add ½ of the dry ingredients. Mix in the whipping cream and then the rest of the dry ingredients.
- Add the pumpkin puree and vanilla. Mix only until smooth.
- Divide the batter evenly into the pans. Bake in a 350° oven for 30 minutes. The sides of the cake will have pulled away from the pan and the top will spring back when lightly touched. Remove pans from the oven and cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Flip pans out onto a cooling rack and then invert cakes to cool completely on another rack.
- For the frosting:
- Place 4 tablespoons butter and all of the brown sugar into a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. As soon as the mixture begins to boil, turn the stove off and add the cream, stirring until blended. Set aside to cool completely. Set aside the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter to come to room temperature.
- Once the caramel mixture is cool, cream the remaining 8 tablespoons butter and cream cheese together in a large mixing bowl on medium high speed until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until all are blended in, scraping the bowl a couple of times.
- Reserve ½ cup of frosting to decorate the top, if desired. Place one of the cake layers on a cake round or serving plate. Take strips of wax paper and place edges of the paper under the edge of the cake to catch the pecans.
- Spread ⅔ cup frosting over the bottom cake layer. Top with the second cake layer. Use the remaining frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake.
- Use the palm of your hand to gently apply the toasted pecan pieces to the sides of the cake. If desired, use a #21 star tip to pipe either shells or stars around the edges on top of the cake and a swirl in the center of the cake. Place a toasted pecan half in the middle of the center swirl.
- Refrigerate until set.
- Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.
- Betsy's tidbits:
- A shortening/flour mixture or butter/flour combination may be used instead of Pan Grease to grease the baking pans.
- If the frosting is too warm, the pecans will weigh the frosting down and it will puddle at the bottom of the plate. If this happens, put the cake in the refrigerator for 10 – 15 minutes to cool the frosting before applying the pecans. Same goes for the piping of shells. Allow frosting to sit in fridge for 10 – 15 minutes and then apply the shells. Test out the frosting consistency on a piece of aluminum foil. If the frosting is too soft, return it to the refrigerator.
- Don’t forget to take out one toasted pecan, for the center swirl, before you break the halves.