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I finally cracked and opened my first pumpkin can of the season. I tried to stay strong, you guys. But it’s the third week of October and it’s still in the mid-80’s here and our AC isn’t working and I am sweating like a wildebeest after a sprint across the savannah, and sometimes a girl just has to WILL autumn into existence, am I right? Especially if that girl has a closet full of painfully cute boots and no place to wear them.
But enough about my wildebeest sweat*, let’s get back to the pumpkin. I knew if I was going to cave and post a pumpkin cake recipe on the internet, in 2013, it needed to be a little different from the 324873 other pumpkin cake recipes on the internet. This tall pumpkin layer cake is filled with a delicious brown butter-cream cheese frosting, and is finished with my favorite super easy chocolate-sour cream frosting on the outside. It’s moist and spicy, with lots of different flavors and textures. Totally worth turning on the oven in this heat!
*Note to self: name new band Wildebeest Sweat**
**Note to self: first learn instrument and recruit bandmates
Like most of my layer cake recipes, this one has a few components. (What can I say? Sleeping is overrated and long recipes are my jam.) Making cake batter and a few frostings can take a little time, but I do have a secret weapon that makes baking go a little faster. Or should that be two secret weapons?
Meet Doreenie (L) and Henrietta (R)! These two ladies have seen me through many a long night of cake-ing and buttercream-ing. I have a lot of kitchen gadgets, but hands down my very favorite, most necessary appliances are my KitchenAid mixers. There was a time when Henrietta was sounding sickly, and I literally got a bit panicky. I would be lost without them and if something ever happens to one of them, I will be the weirdo holding a memorial service for her mixer, complete with a bouquet of flours.
[Fun fact about Doreenie: she was actually a gift from a reader-turned-friend! I got to know a lovely cook through writing my candy site, and after corresponding awhile, she offered me a mixer she was no longer using. Doreenie had already put in years of faithful service, was then shipped across the country, and continues to work like a champ. She’s a workhorse and I think she’s inspiring Henrietta to try a little harder.]
When I was given the opportunity to write this post for KitchenAid and Sears I jumped at the chance, because I am obviously KitchenAid’s #1 fan. As for my pumpkin cake? Well, first off, two mixers are not a requirement for making this bad boy. In fact, you could even do it with a hand mixer! And it doesn’t matter if it’s hot or cold where you are–pumpkin, brown butter, and chocolate-sour cream frosting are ALWAYS in season. You will love this moist, spicy, tangy, brown buttery cake that tastes like fall on a plate!
Pumpkin Layer Cake
For the Pumpkin Cake:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 4 eggs at room temperature
- 15 oz can pumpkin puree (1 can)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
For the Brown Butter Cream Cheese Filling:
- 4 oz unsalted butter
- 6 oz cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 lb powdered sugar (4 cups)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp milk
To Make the Pumpkin Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray three 9” cake pans with nonstick cooking spray, and line them with parchment circles. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt. Set aside for a moment.
- In a mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the sugar and oil, and beat on medium speed until well-mixed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the pumpkin and vanilla extract, and mix well. With the mixer running on low speed, add the dry ingredients. Stop when just a few streaks of flour remain, and finish mixing by hand with a spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl well.
- Divide the batter evenly between the three pans. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the cake tops spring back lightly when touched, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely.
To Make the Brown Butter Cream Cheese Filling:
- Place the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook it, stirring frequently, until it is a medium brown color and has a nutty scent, about 7-8 minutes. Remove it from the heat and let it cool slightly.
- Beat the cream cheese in a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment until smooth and free of lumps. Add the browned butter and mix well. At this point, it might look a little separated or broken. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract, and mix on low until the powdered sugar is moistened. Increase the speed of the mixer and beat until you have a very thick frosting. Add the milk and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy. If it seems too thick to easily spread, add a little more milk and beat until it is the consistency you want.
To Make the Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting:
- Place the chopped chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after every 30 seconds to prevent scorching. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.
- Add the sour cream and vanilla extract to the chocolate, and whisk well. The frosting will be on the thinner side at first, but as it cools, it will thicken nicely. Whisk occasionally as it cools to room temperature. If it becomes too thick to easily spread, reheat it in short bursts in the microwave until you have a workable consistency.
- Place a cake round on a cardboard circle. Fill a piping bag fitted with a round tip with chocolate sour cream frosting. (Alternately, you can use a large zip-top plastic bag with a hole snipped in the corner.) Pipe a ring of frosting around the outer edge of the pumpkin cake. Spread half of the brown butter cream cheese filling inside the ring of frosting—this helps prevent the filling from squirting out the sides of the finished cake.
- Put a second cake layer on top, and repeat the process with the remaining brown butter filling. Top with the final pumpkin cake. Spread a very thin layer of frosting all around the outside of the cake, to catch any crumbs, and refrigerate until the frosting hardens, about 30 minutes.
- Once the crumb coating is set, cover the cake with a thicker layer of frosting along the sides and top. To decorate the sides with sprinkles, pour the sprinkles into a shallow bowl. Hold the cake on a cardboard round over the bowl in one hand, and use the other to press sprinkles into the side, letting the extras fall back into the bowl. Finish by piping some rosettes on top and decorating them with colored Sixlets or other candy. Store Pumpkin Layer Cake in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Sears and KitchenAid. All opinions expressed here are my own. For more information, see my Affiliate and Advertising Policy.