Thanksgiving Pumpkin Cake

Pumpkin Cake


  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
  • 20 ounces pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg


  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5-6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • orange gel food coloring

Stem and Leaves.

  • 3 large pretzel rods
  • chocolate candy melts or chocolate
  • leaf mold for chocolate and/or fondant
  • edible bronze shimmer powder



Preheat the oven to 350.  Thoroughly grease all the crevices of two identical bundt pans with non-stick spray.

Place the butter in a saucepan over medium low heat.  Melt the butter, and then continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until nutty brown solids form on the bottom of the pan.  Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the browned butter with the pumpkin, brown sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla until smooth.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir just until moistened.  Divide the batter evenly between the pans and smooth out the surface of the batter.

Bake the cakes for about 27 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Set the pans on a wire rack, covered loosely with a clean kitchen towel and cool completely.


In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth.  With the mixer on low, gradually add 5 cups of powdered sugar, the cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt, meringue powder, vanilla and a few drops of orange food coloring.  Beat the buttercream on medium speed for several minutes, scraping the bowl down occasionally, until very light and fluffy.  If the buttercream is too soft, add up to 1 additional cup of powdered sugar; if it's too thick, add milk, a tablespoon at a time.  It should be thick enough to hold its shape.

To assemble the cake, place one of the cooled cakes with the rounded side down on a cake board or cake pedestal.  Spread the flat side with buttercream and place the other cake on top with the rounded side up so that you have a round, pumpkin shaped cake.  Frost all over with a thin layer of frosting, or a crumb coat, then refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Don't skip the step of crumb-coating the cake - your frosting will not stick to the cake if you try to pipe it directly onto a naked cake without a crumb coat.

For the final layer of frosting, I find it easier with this shape of cake to put the frosting in a piping bag and pipe it on in vertical rows just to get it onto the cake.  Then, take an icing spatula and drag it through the frosting from bottom to top, making it as textured as you like.

Stem and Leaves.

These can be made a day in advance so that the chocolate can set and harden.  Start with half a bag of chocolate candy melts, and melt more as you need them, melting them according to the instructions on the package.

To make the stem, first secure the 3 pretzel rods by tying a piece of twine around one end to hold them together.  Holding that end, dip the other end in the chocolate, and use a spoon to drip more chocolate halfway up the pretzels.  Shake off the excess and place on a piece of parchment paper to cool and harden.  Once hardened, repeat and dip the same end a second time for the best coverage.  Once that end has hardened, untie the other end and coat that end in chocolate as well.

For the leaves, spoon the melted chocolate into your molds, let harden, and then pop out.

After the chocolate is completely re-hardened, you can brush them with the shimmer powder.  Insert the stem into the middle of the frosted cake, piping a little more frosting around the stem to fill in the hole.  Garnish with the leaves.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen