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Pumpkin Crunch Cake

Pumpkin Crunch Cake (click to print)


If you don’t know David Leite’s website, Leite’s Culinaria, you’re in for a treat. Tested, awesome recipes, and David’s writing make a great website. They have constant giveaways too. This was the best pumpkin cake recipe I’ve made as most pumpkin cakes are dense, soft, and not suited for layering, however tasty. This one was perfectly pumpkin-y without being too soft.


Heat the oven to 375 degrees

Prepare two 8” round cake pans. Place cut circles of parchment paper at the bottom of the pan and butter the bottom and edges.


Pumpkin Pie Layers:

  • 1 Cup and 2 Tbsp canned pumpkin
  • 1 Cup canned table cream (found in Latin food aisles or supermarkets)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 Cup sugar
  • 1/3 Cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spices


  1. Whisk together all of the ingredients and divide equally between the two cake pans. Cook for 15 minutes in the oven just so it's partly cooked. While it’s cooking prepare the pumpkin cake layers.


David Leite’s Pumpkin Cake


1. Beat together  the following ingredients with a handheld or stand mixer in a large bowl.

  • ½ Cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 Cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 Cup white sugar


2. In a separate bowl, sift together:

  • 2 Cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • A pinch of ground black pepper


3. To the butter mixture, add

  • 2 eggs


Mixing thoroughly after each addition.


4. Stir in the flour mixture to the large bowl in parts (beginning and ending with flour), alternating with:

  • ½ Cup buttermilk


Stir just until mixed and smooth.


5. Add

  • 1 ¼ Cup pumpkin
  • 1 tsp vanilla


Beat until smooth.


6. Remove the pumpkin pie layers from the oven. Turn the heat down to 350 degrees.


7. Spoon the cake batter over the pumpkin pie layers, evenly and gently. You don't want to mix the layers. Smooth it out with the back of a spatula and firmly hit the pan on the counter a few times to remove the air bubbles.


8. Return the cakes to the oven and bake for about 37-45 minutes. Check the cakes with a toothpick or sharp knife after 35 minutes and remove when just done. The toothpick, when removed from the cake, should have just a few crumbs clinging to it. If it comes out with raw batter, cook for longer. This part really depends on your oven. If your oven cooks unevenly, probably rotate the cakes a couple of times during cooking.


While the cakes are cooking, make the cream cheese frosting


Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 12 oz cream cheese, softened slightly (1 and a half boxes of cream cheese)
  • 8 Tbsp butter, still cool, but not cold
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • 2 Cups powdered sugar


1. In a food processor/cuisinart fitted with the blade, process the cream cheese, butter, and sour cream until uniform and whipped. Add the powdered sugar and process until completely mixed, about 20 seconds. You will have to scrape down the sides a couple of times. Put it in the fridge until ready to use.


When you remove the cakes from the oven, turn on the broiler and prepare the crunch. Let the cakes cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cakes from their pans. Run a knife around the edge of the cakes and invert to remove. Let cool completely.


Crunch for pumpkin cake


  • 1 cup yellow box cake mix
  • 8 tbsp butter, divided
  • ½ Cup walnuts, chopped into small pieces
  • ½ Cup brown sugar


1. Sprinkle the nuts and cake mix over a quarter of a baking sheet. Don’t worry about being exact, but the cake mix should be in an even layer. Break up the largest pieces of cake mix, but little pieces are fine.


2. Drizzle four tablespoons of butter over the cake mix. It’s ok if it isn’t completely wet, just try to sprinkle it over as evenly as possible.


2. In a bowl, mix together the brown sugar and remaining butter. Spread this evenly over another unused portion of the baking sheet in a thin layer—about 1/8”.


4. Broil for 3-5 minutes, pulling it out when the brown sugar layer is bubbly and glossy and the cake part looks still yellow but just barely getting browned on the edges. You have to watch this very closely and it depends on the heat of your broiler.


5. Let the crunch cool completely. Then use a metal spatula and remove the brown sugar layer to a cutting board and chop it up. Mix the pieces in a bow with the cake crunch part and set aside for assembly.


Assemble the cake.


1. Place the first cake on a serving platter with the pumpkin side up. Put about 1 cup of frosting on the cake and spread over the top of the cake. Layer the second cake on top of that with the pumpkin pie layer on top, again.


2. Spread another cup or more of frosting on the sides and top of the cake in a thin layer to seal in the crumbs. Put the cake in the fridge for an hour or two to let seal.


3. Remove the cake from the fridge and put another layer of frosting on the whole cake—use as much of the rest as you like—I didn’t quite use all of the frosting.


4. Sprinkle the crunch all over the cake, also on the sides.