Warmly spiced pumpkin cake and toasty caramel are a natural pair in this fall showstopper. The cake is light and fluffy with just enough spice to highlight the pumpkin flavor, while a generous pour of caramel sauce between the layers adds richness. (Store-bought caramel sauce will also work, but expect a slightly sweeter result.) For an impressive presentation, top the frosted cake with a bit more caramel sauce, and let it trail down the sides. It’s just the thing for a fall birthday treat or the Thanksgiving table.
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs, room temperature
21/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
11/2 teaspoon nutmeg
11/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon salt
Salted caramel :
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
⅓ cup heavy cream
¾ teaspoon salt
Cream cheese frosting :
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
8 oz butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour four 6-inch cake pans and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.
Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet, stirring until well combined.
Evenly pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes minutes, then allow to cool completely before frosting.
To make the caramel, in a medium saucepan, heat the sugar on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Use a spatula to occasionally stir the sugar, getting to the bottom of the pan.
Once the sugar is fully melted and turns a medium gold hue, remove from heat immediately and stir in butter.
The mixture will violently bubble. Use your spatula to stir the butter and sugar until they melt together completely.
Next, pour in the heavy cream. Use your spatula to stir until everything is combined. Place back on the stove for about 30 seconds, stirring the whole time. Remove from heat, stir in salt, and allow to cool at room temperature while you make your frosting.
In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Add in the vanilla extract, salt, and powdered sugar and whip to combine, about 2 minutes more.
Place the first cake on a plate, then top with a large dollop of frosting. Layer the second and third layers, frosting in between each.
Finish with frosting the outside of the cake with the remaining frosting.
Place the slightly cooled salted caramel in a squeeze bottle or piping bag with a small tip (if it’s feeling too solid, place in the microwave for 10 seconds).
Starting from the center, squeeze out the caramel in a tight spiral, going all the way to the edge of the cake.
When you’re at the edge of the cake, make small zig-zag-like movements to allow the caramel to fall off the side of the cake.