Pumpkin Bourbon Cake

Pumpkin Bourbon Cake

Pumpkin+Bourbon – you just can’t go wrong here!

(I mean, unless you dislike Bourbon, in which case you can sub in TONS of other liqueurs – I’ve used coffee liqueurs, and Bailey’s was a huuge win!) But this Pumpkin Bourbon cake blends seasonal pumpkin spice with the rich warm tones of Brown Sugar Bourbon - and it's a match made in heaven! 

I’m still undecided as to whether I like the fact that pumpkin is a seasonal flavor. I LOVE pumpkin, and I’m pretty sure I’d love to have it around all year. But then….would it really be as fun when it comes back every fall?

Jury’s out. I’ll give it a bit and then decide.

The *for sure* thing though – this cake was a HUGE hit with my coworkers, and had been absolutely decimated by the time I took my first break of the day! Recipe below! 


“How do I store this cake?”
  • Before serving, I prefer storing cakes in cake boxes – they help keep the cake from drying out without any plastic wrap touching the sides of the cake and potentially messing up the decorations! I place cakes in the fridge if storing overnight but allow them to come to room temperature before serving.

  • Cover any remaining cake well after serving to keep it from drying out - it will keep at room temperature for 2-3 days or in the fridge for 3-5 days. 

“Can I make the cake / frosting ahead of time?”
  • Definitely! Wrap the cake layers well and refrigerate up to 4 days or freeze up to 4 months. Transfer the frosting to a zip-lock bag and squeeze out the extra air, and again - refrigerate up to 4 days or freeze up to 4 months. Thaw in the refrigerator.

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Pumpkin Bourbon Cake

Move over, PSL...this Pumpkin Bourbon Cake adds a delicious layer of rich bourbon flavor to a seasonal favorite!
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time37 minutes
Decorating time35 minutes
Total Time1 hour 42 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cocktail Cake, Fall Pumpkin Bourbon Cake, Fall Pumpkin Cake, Pumpkin Bourbon Cake, Pumpkin Bourbon Dessert, Pumpkin Spice Bourbon Cake
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 734kcal
Author: Sarah H


Pumpkin Cake Layers

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk room temperature
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar Bourbon
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese (one package; softened)
  • 1 cup butter (two sticks, softened)
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar Bourbon
  • 2-4 Tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (if using unsalted butter)


  • 3-4 drops Orange gel food coloring (I used Americolor Orange)
  • 3-4 drops Red gel food coloring (I used Americolor Super Red)
  • Sprinkle mix of your choice (optional; I used ‘Old Fashioned’ by FancySprinkles)
  • 1 mini white pumpkin
  • 6 Tablespoons Brown Sugar Bourbon


Pumpkin Cake Layers

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare three 8 inch round pans with baker's floured spray (or grease and line with parchment rounds).
  • Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices) in a stand mixer 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 starts to look like crumbs.
  • Stir in eggs, and mix on low until just incorporated. Mix the pumpkin puree and Brown Sugar Bourbon 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 20-30 seconds, until the mixture becomes smooth.
  • Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans (I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part).
  • Bake for 34-37 minutes (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, and cool completely before frosting.
  • Set in the fridge or freezer to accelerate the cooling process if desired.
  • Once the layers have fully cooled, they can be leveled and any 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 and break. (This is a great time to make your frosting!)

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

  • Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add bourbon and salt if needed and beat until well combined.


  • 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. Drizzle 2 Tablespoons of bourbon over the cake layer. Spread the layer with frosting, and add your next cake layer on top. Repeat the process, 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.


  • Add orange gel color to about 1 cup of your remaining frosting, and add a layer of orange frosting about 2/3 of the way up the side of the cake. Smooth with your bench scraper, and repeat the process with red frosting around the bottom 1/3 of the cake.
  • Sprinkles are optional, but I thought the red/orange/gold Old Fashioned blend from FancySprinkles made the base of the cake more fun! Wilton’s Gold Edible Glitter is another fun option. Center your pumpkin on top of the cake – and you’re done! Enjoy!



Serving: 1slice | Calories: 734kcal | Carbohydrates: 105g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 32g

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Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

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