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Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Author: Bon Appétit
  • Prep Time: 45 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x


A fall friendly cake that’s rich and moist with creamy frosting that works well as a second desert after your first three slices of pie.




  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel


  • 1 1-pound box powdered sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 Candied orange peel


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. To prepare the cake, butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Combine first 9 ingredients (all of the dry ingredients) in a large bowl. With a stand or electric mixer, combine pumpkin, sugar, and oil. Add eggs one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated before the next is added. Add orange peel. Add the flour mixture and mix just to blend – do not mix any more than necessary.
  3. Divide batter between the two pans and bake for 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then invert on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
  4. To prepare the frosting, combine 1/2 cup cream, vanilla, and salt in a small bowl. sprinkle 1/2 cup powdered sugar on the bottom of a small skillet. Cook over medium heat until all of the sugar is melted, without stirring. Continue to cook over medium heat, now stirring occasionally, until the melted sugar is a deep amber color. Slowly pour the cream mixture into the melted sugar, while stirring quickly with a whisk. Stir until fully incorporated and smooth, then remove from heat and add the final tablespoon of cream. Pour into a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
  5. With a stand or hand mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar, then the cooled caramel mixture. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically. Cover and chill the frosting until it is firm enough to spread, about two hours.
  6. With a long serrated knife, level the cakes (remove the rounded tops to create a flat surface). Place one layer on your cake plate cut side up, spread 3/4 cup frosting over it, then place the second layer on top of the frosting, cut side down. Use the remaining frosting to cover the cake, and garnish with candied orange peel.


  •  I couldn’t find candied orange peel anywhere, and didn’t realize it until it was too late to make my own – so plan ahead!
  • When making the caramel, pour in the cream SLOWLY – this is key in keeping it smooth.
  • The frosting will firm up considerably as you let it chill, but is workable as it comes to room temperature and you mix it a bit.