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Spiced Pumpkin Layer Cake

Spiced Pumpkin Layer Cake

Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 12 -16
Author My Little Larder



  • 1 1/2 cup plain all purpose flour
  • 1 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1 1/2 cup caster sugar or golden caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp pumpkin spice see note
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 can pumpkin puree see note
  • 2/3 cup cold-pressed neutral oil (such as rice bran or grapeseed)
  • 1/2 cup full fat milk
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 250 g/ 1/2lb cream cheese, softened
  • 125 g/4.4oz unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups icing (confectioners sugar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
  • 4 Tbsp maple syrup


  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup cream
  • 50 g/1.8oz unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt

For decorating:

  • 1/4 cup toasted walnut halves



  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F on bake. Grease and line two 20cm/8in.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together wholemeal flour, plain flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda and pumpkin spice. Mix through 3/4 cup chopped walnuts.
  3. In a medium bowl mix together the rest of the cake ingredients.
  4. Make a little well in the middle of the dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients and mix together. Don’t over mix.
  5. Pour into preprepared tins and bake for 25-30min or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cakes.
  6. Allow cakes to cool in tins for 10min before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. While the cakes are cooking make the caramel.


  1. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of sugar over the bottom of a heavy based medium saucepan (I like to use my Le Creuset Dutch Oven for this) over medium heat. Once the sugar has almost completely melted (it will become a deep golden colour) sprinkle another 1/4 cup, allow to melt and repeat until you have used up all the sugar. Allow to melt completely and turn a deep golden brown colour. You can stir the sugar as often as required while it is melting, but the less you can do the better as less lumps will form which take longer to melt. Using this ‘dry’ method of melting sugar means that you can stir the sugar as often as you like, if you use the alternative method with added water then you cannot stir the sugar while it is melting or it will crystallise.
  2. While the sugar is melting place the cream in a small saucepan and heat over low heat until you see bubbles forming around the edge of the pan.
  3. When the sugar is golden, remove from heat, add the hot cream and stir vigorously to combine.  Caution the sugar is very hot and the mixture will bubble up when you add the area but it will subside relatively quickly and form a gooey, velvety caramel sauce. Place back on the heat and stir through the butter until melted and fully combined. Remove from the heat.

  4. If you cream is too cold when you add it to the sugar then your caramel can seize up. If this happens then you can sometimes recover it by putting it back on the stove over medium heat, continue to stir and heat the caramel until it bubbles this will melt the seized caramel.

  5. Sprinkle in your sea salt then set aside to cool. You may want to transfer the caramel to another dish and place in the fridge to speed up the cooling process. The caramel must be at room temperature or cooler when pouring over the cake or it will melt the cream cheese frosting.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. While the cake and caramel is cooling make the cream cheese frosting.
  2. Place cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until fluffy, about 5 min.
  3. Add the icing sugar and maple syrup then beat for another 10 min until pale and fluffy.
  4. Drizzle in vanilla and beat until combined.
  5. Cream cheese frosting is best made on the day of serving but can be made a day in advance and stored in an air tight container in the fridge. When ready to frost your cake give the frosting a quick beat in the electric mixer to make it soft again.


  1. If your cakes aren’t completely flat (normally mine aren’t) cut the domed tops off to make them flatter. Place the first cake bottom side down on a stand. Dollop on about 1 cup of frosting and spread over the cake.
  2. Place the second cake on top, upside down so that the bottom, flat-side is on top. This gives you a nice flat top to your cake.
  3. Spread a thin layer of frosting around the sides of your cake and put the rest of the frosting on top. Flatten the top with an offset spatula and using the offset spatula or pastry scraper, run it around the sides of the cake to create a semi-naked look. Place in the fridge for 20-30min to firm up the frosting.
  4. Remove cake from fridge and drizzle over the caramel. Place straight back in the fridge to set the caramel for 20-30min. It’s not essential that you place your cake in the fridge for these steps but it does give your a more polished looking cake, especially in warmer weather. I didn’t place it back in the fridge in the photos you see so that the caramel would drip all the way down the sides.
  5. Remove from the fridge again, decorate with toasted walnuts, flowers and sea salt. Best served day of making but will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container.

Recipe Notes

Note 1. Here’s my favourite recipe for pumpkin spice. Some have mace in them but I prefer this one from Betty Crocker. Feel free to search the internet or experiment to find your favourite combination of spices.
3 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves

Note 2. In the USA you can purchase canned pumpkin puree. I purchase this from an American store we have here in Auckland, New Zealand. If you can’t find this then it’s easy enough to simply make your own. Take a butternut pumpkin, half it, remove the seeds and roast in the oven for 45-50min at 200C/400F until tender. Allow to cool slightly, peel then blend the flesh in a food processor or blender. Measure out 425g/15oz for the cake and either freeze the rest to use for future cakes, eat as is or use it in my Roasted Butternut Pumpkin and Sage Soup.