Pumpkin Cake Layers:
First note – you have options here!
You can use your favorite pumpkin cake recipe, you can use my Favorite Pumpkin Cake recipe, OR – you can you can do what I’ve done before in a time crunch and ‘bakery-level-up’ a couple of boxed cake mixes! (2 spice cake mixes , replace the combined 1 cup of oil the mixes called for with 1 cup unsalted butter (or 2 sticks, melted & cooled), 7 eggs, replaced the 2 cups of water with 1 (15oz) can of canned pumpkin, ½ cup of buttermilk, (room temperature), & ½ cup of Mozart Pumpkin Chocolate Liqueur!)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line four 7 inch pans (for taller layers) or three 8-inch cake pans with parchment rounds, and /or grease with non-stick or baker’s floured cooking spray.
Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.
Mix together all wet ingredients (butter, egg whites, buttermilk, vanilla, and gel food color) in a large bowl with a wire whisk. Blend in cake mixes for 30 seconds, and then beat with a wire whisk or hand mixes for 2 minutes until well combined.
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 toothpick comes out clean). Allow cake layers to cool for 10-15 minutes on a wire cooling rack before removing from pans – it helps to run an offset spatula or knife around the perimeter of the pan first. Cool completely before frosting. Set in the fridge or freezer to accelerate the cooling process if desired.
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.
The lag time while you’re waiting for your cakes to cool is a great time to make your frosting and filling!
Whipped Cream/Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:
8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
6-7 c powdered sugar
3-6 Tablespoons whipping cream
1 T clear vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt (if using unsalted butter)
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt if needed and beat until well combined.
Pumpkin Spice White Chocolate Ganache filling:
For the cake filling, I modified my favorite white chocolate ganache recipe so far from ChelSweets.com!
-1/3 cup Mozart Pumpkin Chocolate Liqueur
- 1 c white chocolate chips
Place Pumpkin liqueur and white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on 50% power in 30-second intervals until smooth, stirring in between until smooth. Chill until a spreadable consistency is achieved; about 15-30 minutes depending on your fridge.
- 1 8- or 10 -inch cardboard cake circle (I prefer Wilton’s center-punched circles)
- Large piping bag & tip – I use this set of reusable large bags & tips more than almost any of my others!
- Cake leveler, cake turntable, large offset spatula, and pastry cutter/bench scraper - not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful! (Here’s a link to the cake turntable I use)
- ¼ cup each Mozart Liqueur and cold brew coffee, and 30 mL Bacardi rum – if desired, for cake soak
- squeeze bottle (for cake soak, if desired)
- glass coffee/cocktail mug – I used a Mozart Liqueur mug similar to this one
- few halved cinnamon sticks
- sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice
- few Pumpkin mellowcreme candies (if desired!)
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. If desired, combine cake soak ingredients and infuse cake layers with a few tablespoons of ‘cake soak’ liquid.
Pipe a rim of cream cheese frosting around the outer edge, and spread a layer (about 1/3) of your filling in the center.
Add your next cake layer on top. Repeat the process with the rest of your cake layers, adding your last cake layer on top. (I put mine on upside-down so make shaping the frosting on top of the cake easier).
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 freezer for at least 20 minutes – this sets the frosting and chills the cake to set the drip! (I only chilled mine about 10 minutes when I filmed, and the drip didn’t set as well as I’d have liked. Lesson learned.)
Onto the fun part! Decorating!
I added a packet of instant coffee to the rest of the pumpkin spice white chocolate ganache to flavor it and turn it coffee-colored; up to you!
Re-melt the ganache for a few seconds in the microwave – it should be smooth and slightly warm but not hot or it could melt your frosting!
I usually find a squeeze bottle or piping bag work the best for this ganache since it’s a touch runny until it sets, but I’ve used a spoon for similar drips before. Add about ¼ cup of ganache to your mug, turn it sideways, and press it onto the top of your cake. I tilted my cake a bit to get the drip running – allow it to run to the edge and down the side of the cake. I also used a spoon to add a couple more drips to the side. If the drip’s not setting, but the cake in the freezer until it stops running.
Add the remaining frosting to your large piping bag, and decorate around the mug with frosting swirls, cinnamon sticks, pumpkin mellowcremes, and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice! I added a few around the cake base as well.
Annnd you’re done! Step back and admire your beautiful cake!
Make this recipe? Let me know how it went - or find me on Instagram or Facebook and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!