Pumpkin Spice Latte Cake

It's finally PSL season! 

Okay, not scientifically true. The first day of fall isn't for *over* another week as I write this. But the weather's turned decidedly fall-ish, the leaves are falling, I see people in boots and sweaters and even the occasional scarf, AND there's pumpkin spice *EVERYWHERE*...I submit that fall has started, y'all - whether the calendar says so or not! 

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 *SO* much fun to make! A pumpkin layer cake filled with coffee filling and chopped chocolate-covered coffee beans, topped with cream cheese frosting and a Starbucks cup/mirror glaze drip decoration that makes it look like you spilled a PSL all over a cake 😉

Recipe below! 

(Disclosure: As a way to keep my kitchen stocked with butter, sugar, and flour I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program.  My posts often contain affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at NO extra cost to you!) 


Pumpkin Cake Layers: 
Note - this is a modified 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 (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 t. vanilla extract 
1 t. cinnamon (this brand is my favorite!)  
1/2 t nutmeg 
5 eggs 
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature  (or buttermilk powder with water is an option if you can’t find liquid buttermilk at your grocery store!)
½ c pumpkin puree
1/8 cup (28 grams) vegetable oil

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, salt, and spices) 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 eggs, 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 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.

While you're waiting, make your frosting! 

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.

Coffee Cake Filling:
This step is optional, but I wanted a little bit more kick in between the cake layers, so I took about ¾ c of frosting from the mixer bowl and stirred in ¼ c of instant espresso powder (make sure you use a fine powder that will dissolve into the frosting and not granulated instant coffee crystals), 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (this brand is my favorite!)  and 
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 

Additional Supplies/Equipment:
- 1 8- or 10 -inch cardboard cake circle (I prefer Wilton’s center-punched circles)
- Small piping bag & tip – this set has been one of my favorites!
- empty Starbucks coffee cup – I used a medium/grande-size cup  
- 1 c chocolate-covered espresso beans  (I chopped about ¾ c of mine and used the rest to decorate the top of the cake)
- 10-15 pumpkin candies (I found them in bulk at a local grocery store)

- 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)

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. These cake layers bake fairly flat though, so I didn't trim much from the tops. 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. Pipe a rim of cream cheese frosting around the outer edge, and spread the coffee filling in the center.
Sprinkle a few chopped chocolate-covered espresso beans over the filling, 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. Once your cake is covered, place it into the freezer to set the frosting. Usually the fridge is sufficient, but a colder cake will help set your drip! 

White chocolate ganache:
(Modified version of my favorite white chocolate ganache recipe so far from ChelSweets.com!) 
-1/3 c heavy cream
-1 c white chocolate chips 
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder 
- 1-2 drops brown gel food color 
Place heavy cream and white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on 50% power in 30-second intervals until smooth, stirring in between. Stir in gel food coloring.

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 small plastic cup or even a spoon for similar drips before.

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. 

Okay! Now that all the pieces are ready, it’s time to decorate your cake!
Press the cup into the top of the cake at an angle, leaving a bit of room to drizzle mirror glaze underneath.
Slowly drizzle ganache underneath and then away from the coffee cup, letting it fall in a few drips off the edge of the cake. Return cake to the fridge or freezer to set the drips.
I decorated around the top of the mirror glaze with large swirls of frosting to resemble whipped cream swirls, and piped small amounts of leftover coffee filling around the cake base. I added a few pumpkin candies and chocolate-covered coffee beans to the top of the cake, and split a few of the candies in half to put around the base of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to eat - and enjoy!

 Make this recipe? Let me know  how it went - or find me on Instagram or Facebook and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!  

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