Pumpkin Cake Layers:
Note - this is a slightly-modified/simplified layer cake recipe from ChelSweets.com - I highly recommend checking out her site if you haven't before; it's amazing!!
3 1/4 c. all purpose flour
3 c. granulated sugar
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 cup unsalted butter (or 2 sticks) room temperature
2 t. vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
½ c pumpkin puree (I used canned pumpkin)
1/8 cup (28 grams) vegetable oil
Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined. Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.
Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated. Mix the pumpkin puree into the buttermilk and pour the mixture into the dry ingredients in two installments, on a low speed. Add in oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds.
Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans (I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part). This guarantees your layers will bake to be the same height.
Bake for 35-37 minutes if using 8 inch pans, or 37-38 minutes for 7 inch cake pans (or until a skewer comes out clean). Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Place cake layers into the freezer for 45 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process.
Once the layers have fully cooled, the caramelized bits can be trimmed from the sides / top of the cake using a serrated knife if desired. Be sure the layers are completely cooled or chilled before trimming. If you try to trim the layers while they’re still warm, they will crumble apart.
Gray / Black Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:
8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
6-7 c powdered sugar
¼ c whipping cream
1/4 t. salt
Black gel food coloring (I used Americolor Super Black)
(Save and add later – ¼ c cocoa powder )
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with whipping cream until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add salt and beat until well combined.
Reserve about 1 c of frosting to use for decorating, and mix in ¼ c of cocoa powder with more black food coloring to make a deep black icing – the cocoa powder darkens the frosting so you don’t have to use *so* much black gel color.
- 1 8- or 9-inch cardboard cake circle
- small / large piping bag & small / large tips
- Halloween sprinkle mix of your choice
- piping bag, bottle, or spoon for the ganache drip
- Cake leveler, cake turntable, offset spatula, and bench scraper - not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful!
Once your cakes are cool, level them (if needed/desired). This can be done with a cake leveler or a large serrated knife and a ruler. Place a smear of frosting on your cake circle (to keep the cake from sliding while you decorate it) and center your first cake layer in the center of the circle. Spread the layer with frosting. Repeat the process with your remaining cake layers.
Now you're ready to crumb-coat . If you're unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it's just what it sounds like - a thin layer of frosting over the entire outside of the cake to keep crumbs out of your final layer.
Once your crumb coat has set (this takes about 5-10 minutes in the fridge), add your final layer of frosting and smooth. I like to use an offset spatula and bench scraper for this part. Once your cake is covered, place it into the fridge or freezer to set the frosting.
Annnnd time for the DRIPS!! I used a white chocolate ganache for this cake – I found my favorite white chocolate ganache recipe so far on ChelSweets.com!
White Chocolate Ganache
-1/3 cup heavy cream (77 grams)
- 1 cup white chocolate chips (175 grams)
- 1 small squirt orange and purple gel food coloring
I found a piping bag worked the best for this ganache since it’s very runny until it sets, but I’ve used a drip bottle and even a spoon for similar drips before. Up to you!
When your ganache has cooled to a moderate temperature – it should feel slightly warm and still be fairly liquid – transfer it to a squeeze bottle or piping bag. A spoon will work if you don’t have either of those, I've just found spoons to be a little bit more difficult to work with.
Slowly drizzle ganache around the upper edge of your cake, pausing every inch or so to let more ganache fall in a drip down the side of the cake. Return cake to the fridge or freezer to set the drips.
Pipe on swirls of black icing around the upper rim of the cake, and add sprinkles on the top and around the bottom edge of the cake – annnd step back and admire your work! Enjoy!
Make this recipe? Let me know how it went - or find me on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!