One of the best parts of the holiday season are the smells that come out of the kitchen, and this pumpkin spice cake recipe is certainly no exception!
This recipe yields a one 4-layer 6-8 inch cake (cake size is really dependent on how thick you’d like your cake layers to be… the larger the cake pans, the thinner your cake layers will bake), and the real stars of the show here are those amazing fall inspired spices: cinnamon, ground cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice. The flavor of this cake really canNOT be beat, and the smell while baking, will completely envelope your entire home in the best possible way!
Separate of the flavor, I think my favorite part of this recipe is the fact that the cake layers are moist, while maintaining their structural integrity. Of course, you never want to sacrifice taste, but it’s almost equally important to make sure that as you assemble your cake, the layers will hold their form while frosting and decorating.
I typically pair this cake with my Vanilla Buttercream Recipe, but this cake also goes great with a cream cheese frosting!
In between cake layers, I also add in a layer of pumpkin pie filling (recipe also below!), which definitely takes this cake to the next level, and provides that perfect fusion of pumpkin cake and pie! Just remember that if you decide to add a filling in your cake, that you pipe a border of frosting around the top edge of the cake layer and then fill in with the filling. Piping a frosting border creates a barrier that holds your filling in and will ensure that it doesn’t seep out as you crumb coat, and then eventually frost your outer layer of buttercream. So assembly will look something like this:
- Place the cake layer in the center of your cake board
- Add a layer of frosting, smoothing with a cake spatula
- Pipe the frosting border around the edge of the cake layer
- Spoon the filling in the center of the cake layer and smooth outward to the border
- Rinse and repeat!
Cake Storage Instructions: I generally make my cake layers a few days in advance, but if you are planning to bake your layers and decorate in the same day, I would just be sure to give yourself enough time for the cake layers to FULLY cool. I have countless stories of trying to decorate my cakes with even slightly warm layers, and the results turned out to be a slippery “Leaning Tower of Pisa” disaster every time.
Once I take my cake layers out of the oven, here is my process:
I let the cake layers cool in their cake pans for approximately 20 min, then pop them out of their pans and onto a cooling rack for an additional 10-15 minutes or so. If you spray the pans well enough with a non-stick spray prior to baking, they should pop out with a gentle tap on the bottom of the pan; however, you may experience a stubborn layer here and there, so you may need to slide a butter knife around the edge of the cake layer to help separate the layer from the pan. I’ll then double wrap each layer with Glad Press’n Seal, and place them in a 1 pound Ziploc bag (I can generally fit 2 layers per bag). As you seal the Ziploc bag, try to remove as much air as possible from the bag since the goal is to try to keep the layers as fresh and moist as possible.
From here you can place in your freezer for up to 2 weeks, but again, if you need to decorate your cake the same day, just pop into your fridge for a couple hours to ensure your layers are as cool as can be! NOTE: if you do freeze your cake layers, be sure to take them out of the freezer about 20-30 minute in advance to thaw a bit, and bring them back to a cooler room temperature.
THE BEST Pumpkin Spice Cake Recipe
Total Time: 40-50 minutes
Servings: 1 6-8 inch, 4 layer cake
Keywords: pumpkin spice cake, pumpkin cake, pumpkin filling, cakes, cake, best pumpkin spice cake
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 cups sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 tspn cinnamon
- 1 tspn nutmeg
- 1/2 tspn ground cloves
- 1/2 tspn ginger
- 1/4 tspn allspice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks of butter, room temp (1 cup)
- 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup egg whites
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spay 4, 7 or 8 inch round baking pans with non-stick spray (I use PAM). Make sure to get a good coating on the bottom and around the sides. Line all four pans with parchment rounds cut the same size as the pans (7 or 8 inch).
- Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and allspice into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined.
- Add in the butter, and mix until the mixture is nice and crumbly.
- In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, egg whites, oil, and vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix until ingredients are fully incorporated and combined, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for an additional 30 seconds or so.
- Add in pumpkin puree, and mix until fully incorporated, 1-2 minutes. Scrape the sides down one last time, and mix again for another 1-2 minutes.
- Divide and pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. The cakes will start to pull away from the sides of the baking pan.
- Once your cakes have completely cooled, use a cake leveler or serrated knife to level the tops of the layers, then frost away!
- NOTE: This cake does not dome like other cake recipes, so minimal (if any) cake leveling will be needed, since it bakes and cools fairly flat anyway! Also, be sure to review my storage instructions above for more information on my process!
Pumpkin Pie Filling:
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 package vanilla pudding mix (3.4 oz box)
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 tspn vanilla
- 1/2 tspn cinnamon
- 1/4 tspn ginger
- 1/4 tspn nutmeg
- 1/4 tspn allspice
- 1/4 tspn clove
- Pour heavy cream into a mixing bowl and mix in the vanilla pudding mix until fully incorporated and smooth.
- Add in remaining ingredients: pumpkin puree, vanilla, and spices, and mix until combined and smooth.
Cake Recipe Notes
This cake recipe makes 1 6-8 inch, 4 layer cake. If you want to make a taller cake, you can also baking this recipe in 6 inch pans! If you like thicker layers, you can also use 3 7-8 inch cake pans instead of 4!
This recipe feeds about 25 people, possibly more depending on how you are cutting the cake.
To cut out my parchment rounds, I place a cake pan on a piece of parchment paper and outline the exact circle size I need using a food marker, then cut out.
When baking my cake layers, I set a timer about half-way (20 minutes) to the cooking time. Once the timer goes off, I turn my cakes 180 degrees, then set a timer for the remaining time (first set to 15 minutes, and if toothpick still comes out wet, set a new timer for 3 minutes and check again. Keep setting 3 minute timer intervals until the toothpick comes out clean).
Rotating your cake layers half-way helps to ensure even baking all around.
I usually bake my cake layers the day before so I’m not rushing to bake and decorate in the same day. It also lets the cake fully cool overnight and makes the decorating part that much easier. If you’re able to, and have the time, I highly recommend baking your layers in advance! Remember, this cake recipe can be made up to 2 weeks in advance if stored properly, and per the above instructions!