This moist and spicy pumpkin pecan cake is filled with an intoxicating toasted pecan caramel filling and covered in a perfect vanilla buttercream. I love the play of super-soft, pillowy cake with the crunch of nuts and creaminess from the filling.
This is a piece of pumpkin heaven for all you German chocolate cake lovers! Moist pumpkin cake spiced with cinnamon, ginger, allspice et al is filled with a luscious pecan frosting and surrounded by vanilla buttercream and more toasted pecans. This would also work as a naked cake with just the pecan frosting OR you could pair it with with the browned buttercream from my pumpkin poke cake.
Pro Tips for Making Pumpkin Pecan Cake
- To get FLAT layers that are moist inside and out try using cake strips! You can buy a set on the shop page or make your own from foil and paper towels at home. I made a whole blog post on it so check it out if you’re interested!
- This recipe actually makes a good deal of batter so you should be fine using 3 eight inch pans. I used six inch rounds and had enough left over batter for a good number of pumpkin cupcakes!
- Measure your flour correctly! Adding too much flour to the recipe is the most common mistake. The best, and easiest way to measure flour is by using a scale. If you don’t have one then fluff your flour with a spoon, sprinkle it into your measuring cup, and use a knife to level it off.
- If you want to maximize the frosting the cake ratio, try splitting the cake layers. The recipe makes more than enough of the pecan frosting to accommodate this modification although I guarantee you will be snacking…
- Make sure to toast your pecans, it makes all the difference! Use pumpkin purée, not canned pumpkin pie filling.
- You can make the cake layers a day ahead; just wrap them up and keep at room temp overnight.
Frequently Asked Questions
CAN I MAKE THIS CAKE IN ADVANCE?
- YES! You can make the layers in advance, wrap them up and refrigerate for up to three days or freeze them for up to two months.
The frosting will keep for two weeks in the refrigerator and two months in the freezer. Let it come back to room temperature and give it a quick whip before using to restore it’s silky consistency.
- The Whole cake will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days. Make sure to cover it so it doesn’t absorb any errant smells. Allow to warm back to room temperature before enjoying. Add the bats on before serving.
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN THE CAKE LAYERS ARE DONE?
- You will see the edge of the cake pull away from the pan and the center will spring back when touched gently. A skewer will also come out cleanly when inserted in the center.
- I like to tap the side of the pan so the cake layer moves around a bit in the pan before inverting it onto a wire rack. This really helps get a clean release every time.
How can I adjust the recipe for an 8 inch cake?
Double the recipe for the batter. You can keep the pecan frosting the same as the recipe makes a bit extra. The vanilla frosting should JUST still cover the cake but you might need to make another half batch depending on how much decorating you’re doing.
How to Make Pumpkin Pecan Cake
1. Heat oven to 350F. Butter and flour three six inch cake pans. Sift the flour, leavening agents, salt and spices together into a large bowl. Whisk together and set aside.
2. in a large bowl combine the oil, eggs, sugars, pumpkin, sour cream, and vanilla. Whisk to combine.
3. Pour the wet into the dry and mix until combined.
4. Divide the batter evenly into three six inch pans; I use cake strips to get nice flat cake layers. Bake at 350F for about 24-30 minutes or until the centers are springy to the touch.
5. To make the vanilla buttercream; cream the room temperature butter and salt. Add in the confectioners sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and then cream a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.
6. To make the Pecan frosting; add sugar, evaporated milk, egg yolks, melted butter and salt to a medium pot. Whisk together and place over medium heat. Stir continuously until the mixture boiled and thickens then remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla and toasted pecans then set aside to cool.
7. To build the cake, pipe a ring of buttercream on the first layer then add a scoop of the pecan frosting and flatten. Add the next layer on top and repeat the process until the cake is three layers.
8. Cover the cake in a layer of vanilla buttercream.
9. Smooth the side of the cake with a bench scraper and the top with an offset spatula. To get a neat edge pull the spatula towards the center while turning the cake. Clean the tool between each swipe and repeat.
10. Apply a skirt of the chopped toasted pecans at the bottom.
11. Use a large star tip to pipe a crown of dollops on top.
12. Apply a scoop of the pecan frosting to the top then smooth with a spatula.
If you’ve tried this cake then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you!
Pumpkin Pecan Cake
For the Cake:
- 4 eggs large
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1 can pumpkin puree 15 ounce
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- pinch ground cloves
- 1 tsp vanilla
For the Vanilla Buttercream
- 3 tsp vanilla
- 1 lb confectioner's sugar
- 1 cup butter unsalted, room temperature
- 3 tbs heavy whipping cream
For the Pecan Frosting:
- 1 cup pecans toasted
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- 3 egg yolks large, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup butter unsalted, cut into pieces
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
For the Assembly:
- 1/2 cup toasted pecans
For the Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Butter and flour 3 six inch cake pans. (I always wrap mine in cake strips)
- In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar, oils, sour cream, vanilla and pumpkin.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, salt and spices; add to wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.
- Spread into prepared pans.
- Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until centers firm up.
For the Pecan Sauce:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the pecans on a baking sheet and bake for about 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove from oven, cool, and then chop fairly fine.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, milk, egg yolks, butter, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, and when the mixture begins to boil and thicken, remove from heat (about 5 minutes). Stir in the chopped pecans, and vanilla extract. Let cool until spreadable (about 30-60 minutes).
For the Vanilla Buttercream:
- Whip the butter for about 5 minutes, using a paddle attachment (stand-up mixer).
- Beat in the confectioner’s sugar slowly.
- Add the cream and vanilla. Beat until you have an even, fluffy consistency.
For the Assembly:
- Pipe a circle of vanilla buttercream along the perimeter of the cake. Use an ice cream scoop to add pecan frosting to the center of buttercream circle. Do this between each layer.
- Cover the cake with a thin crumb coat.
- Cover the cake with the buttercream and smooth with an offset spatula.
- Using a large closed star tip, pipe dollops around the top of the cake.
- Scoop pecan frosting into the middle circle.
- Add toasted pecans to the bottom.