Pumpkin Spice Latte Cake

Pumpkin Spice Lattes = fall has started!! 

Okay, not scientifically actually true. The technical first day of fall isn't for *over* another week. But the weather's turned decidedly fall-ish in Portland, the leaves are slowly turning, everywhere I look there are people in boots and sweaters and even the occasional scarf, AND there's pumpkin *EVERYTHING* frickin *EVERYWHERE*.....

I submit that fall has started, y'all. Whether the calendar says so or not. ;p 

I’m still undecided as to whether I like the fact that ‘pumpkin-in-frickin-everything’ is okay basically just through fall/winter-as-far-as-about-Christmas. 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 couple more years and then decide.


Solid maybe.

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!

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
5 eggs 
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
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 8 inch round pans with parchment rounds, and grease with non-stick cooking spray.

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.

Whipped Cream/Cream Cheese 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
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.

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 note large granules. Unless you want them to crunch in your cake, I suppose. I mean, I guess I added chopped chocolate-covered coffee beans to mine so….do what you want!

Additional Supplies/Equipment:
- 1 8- or 9-inch cardboard cake circle
- 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)
- 1 8- or 9-inch cardboard cake circle
- Cake leveler, cake turntable, offset spatula, and bench scraper - not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful! 
- Immersion blender and a candy thermometer (if using mirror glaze for the topping) 

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 don’t think I bothered to level them for this cake. 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 circle of cream cheese frosting around the outer edge, and spread the coffee filling in the center – I made the mistake of spreading some of mine over the top edge of that frosting rim….which kind of defeats the purpose of the frosting rim. :/ Duh. I got away with it because my outer frosting layer was pretty thick, but….noob mistake. Verdict: do not recommend. Annnnyway. Back on track. 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.

Crumb coat:
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 you need a frozen cake to set your mirror glaze drip 😊

Mirror glaze: (or you can use white chocolate ganache
One .25-ounce packet unflavored powdered gelatin
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 cup good-quality white chocolate discs or chopped white chocolate (at least 30 percent cocoa butter)
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
Brown food coloring (or about 1/2 T instant espresso powder)

To make the mirror glaze: 
Whisk together the gelatin and 3 tablespoons water in a small bowl and set aside to bloom.

Combine the sugar, corn syrup and 1/3 cup water in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil and cook until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is clear, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the bloomed gelatin to dissolve. Add the white chocolate and allow to sit 1 minute to melt. Add the condensed milk and combine with an immersion blender until emulsified and smooth.
Mix in a tiny bit of brown gel food coloring or about ½ T of instant espresso powder, until the color resembles a latte. Let cool to 95 degrees F, checking with a candy or instant-read thermometer. 

Note: This recipe will make much more glaze than you need for the cake, but the rest can be saved in the refrigerator and re-melted for other projects!
(Mirror glaze recipe from foodnetwork.com)


Okay! Now that all the pieces are ready, it’s time to decorate your cake! My cake was pretty well set after about 20 minutes in the freezer, which was what I wanted to make sure that the Starbucks cup would stay put. Press the cup into the top of the cake at an angle, leaving a bit of room to drizzle mirror glaze underneath. Now drizzle your mirror glaze under the rim of the cup with a small container or spoon, allowing it to run away from the cup and drizzle down the side of the cake. It should set fairly quickly if your cake is frozen. 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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