My pumpkin layer cake is soft and moist with an utterly irresistible whipped caramel frosting. This is a must try!!
pumpkin + caramel = sheer heaven
I love to have a few layer cakes up my sleeve for each of the four seasons. They come in handy for birthdays and all those times you want a dessert that’s just a little bit special. (In fact I love layer cakes so much I’ve written an e-book all about them, and you can get it free when you sign up for my newsletter.)
This cake has got that moist texture and bit of spice you expect from a pumpkin cake, with lots of toasted pecans folded in. But the frosting is the star of the show here…it’s fluffy with a pronounced caramel flavor. I’d love to say it’s not too sweet.. but it’s plenty sweet 😉
what’s great about this pumpkin layer cake
- You can make the cake layers a day ahead. Just wrap them and keep on the counter, or in the fridge. You can even freeze them for longer storage, just be sure to wrap first in plastic, then in foil.
- The caramel frosting is super caramel-y and quite easy to make. You won’t need a thermometer and the process is foolproof (‘foolproof’ and ‘caramel’ are rarely heard in the same sentence!) The texture is like a whipped caramel, which is delish.
- The combination of pumpkin with caramel is unexpected and gives this cake a touch of luxury ~ perfect for special occasions.
- My husband, who hates everything ‘pumpkin’, ate 2 slices, which means pretty much everybody will love it.
ingredient list for pumpkin layer cake with caramel frosting
pantry staples: butter, flour, sugar (brown, white, and confectioner’s) eggs, vegetable oil, milk, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and vanilla.
for the grocery list: canned pumpkin, buttermilk, apple cider (this is optional, you can use water instead,) pecans, pumpkin pie spice.
how to make the caramel frosting
If you’ve been intimidated by caramel frosting before, no worries here. You’re basically going to bring the caramel ingredients to a boil in a saucepan, and then leave it to cool. You can’t mess it up.
- It starts with a super simple homemade caramel. In a medium saucepan stir to dissolve brown sugar, butter, and milk or cream over medium heat. Now simply heat to a boil. That’s it, just set aside to let it cool.
- When your caramel is cooled, beat it up with confectioner’s sugar and a little milk or cream to thin it down to a spreadable consistency.
we heart pumpkin desserts
- Pumpkin Fudge
- Perfect Pumpkin Bread
- Libby’s Pumpkin Pie Recipe
- Pumpkin Spice Crisp
- Chewy Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies!
- Pecan Praline Pumpkin Cake
Pumpkin Layer Cake with Caramel Frosting
- 2 9 inch cake pans
- parchment paper
- 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
- 3/4 cup salted butter, cut in pieces
- 6 Tbsp milk or half and half
- 1 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup apple cider (you can also use water)
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans*
for the frosting
- 4 cups confectioner's sugar
- 1/4 cup milk or half and half
- Preheat oven to 350F, spray 2 9-inch cake pans with baking spray and dust with flour. Line each pan with a round of parchment paper on the bottom.
- Begin by making the caramel. Put the ingredients in a medium saucepan and melt over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. When everything is melted, raise the heat slightly and wait for the mixture to come to a boil. You don't need to stir it at this point. This will take about 3-4 minutes. Once the mixture boils, remove from the heat and pour into a heatproof bowl to cool. Do not stir.
- In a large bowl blend the wet ingredients together until smooth. You can do this by hand, or in a stand mixer.
- Whisk the dry ingredients together, and then slowly add to the wet, just until everything is smooth, don't over beat. Fold in the nuts.
- Pour the batter evenly into the two prepared pans. Bake for 25-28 minutes, or until they spring back when lightly touched in the center, or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out without wet batter on it.
- Let the cake layers cool on a rack for 15 minutes before turning them out to cool completely. Carefully peel off the parchment paper.
- Now make the frosting. Put the cooled caramel into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the balloon whisk attachment, or you can do this with electric beaters. Begin beating the caramel, then add the sugar, one cup at a time. After the second cup of sugar, add the milk or half and half and then finish with the sugar. Beat until thick, smooth, and creamy. If your frosting seems too thick, add a touch more milk. If it seems too thin, add a bit more sugar.
- Frost the cooled cake. You can store your cake at room temperature, or in the refrigerator.
Questions and Reviews
I believe there is a mistake in the wet ingredients. It calls for an excesive amount of sugar. I completely omited it and only used the amount of sugar in the dry ingredients.
Other tnan that, the cake was delicious.
Hey Cecile, I’m not sure what you’re referring to, there’s no sugar in the dry ingredients for this cake. It is a sweet cake, though. I’m glad you had good results reducing the sugar!
is there anything i can do to make the frosting less sweet?
Well, for this recipe, I don’t think so. I suggest frosting it with a classic vanilla cream cheese frosting if you want it a little less sweet.
I made thiis today fantastic
Oh I’m so happy Larry, I couldn’t stop eating it myself 😉
If I use store-bought caramel for the icing to save time, how much would I need?
Well, I’m not exactly sure, but at least a cup, maybe a cup and a quarter.
can it be made nut free?
Definitely, just leave them out!
Baking time for 9 x 13?
I’d check it at 40 minutes.
I can’t wait to make this cake! Looks fabulous.