Pumpkin Salted Caramel Cake

Simply the PERFECT cake for fall!  Moist and flavorful Pumpkin Cake is paired with Salted Caramel Frosting, Candied Pecans and even more amazing salted caramel!

This Pumpkin Salted Caramel Cake is the ultimate fall dessert!

This beauty starts with moist, flavorful, pumpkin cake, then gets dressed with layers of incredible salted caramel frosting, a generous garnish of candied pecans, and even more gorgeous caramel!

Each component is delicious on it’s own… and combined they create a truly impressive treat!

Simply the PERFECT cake for fall!  Moist and flavorful Pumpkin Cake is paired with Salted Caramel Frosting, Candied Pecans and even more amazing caramel!

It always amazes me that with some time and care, simple ingredients can become incredible things!

Flour, sugar, butter, pumpkin… each quite humble on their own, yet they can sure do amazing things together!

When I take the time to make desserts from scratch, it’s important to me to use high quality ingredients.

My fridge is always stocked with Challenge butter and cream cheese, key ingredients in so many amazing desserts!

I love knowing Challenge dairy products are made using fresh, local milk and cream with no hormones, additives or fillers!  Just fresh, pure ingredients!

Simply the PERFECT cake for fall!  Moist and flavorful Pumpkin Cake is paired with Salted Caramel Frosting, Candied Pecans and even more amazing caramel!

This cake has several components and although none of the steps are terribly difficult, the cake does take some time to complete.

Feel free to break up the work by making the cake and the caramel sauce a day ahead, as described in the “notes” portion of the recipe below.

Using the recipe below you will have extra salted caramel sauce left over… believe me, this is a good thing!  Store the caramel in a jar in the fridge for up to 1 month.  Warm in the microwave as needed… or eat it right from the fridge, I wont tell!

As a time-saving alternative, feel free to use a good quality store-bought salted caramel sauce.  My personal favorite is Trader Joe’s Fleur de sel Caramel Sauce.

Print Recipe

Pumpkin Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting

Yield: 1- 8" or 6" cake, see notes

Moist and flavorful Pumpkin Cake is paired with Salted Caramel Frosting, candied pecans and even more amazing caramel!

Ingredients:

Pumpkin Cake

2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (or 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg)

1 (15oz) can pumpkin puree (1 3/4 cups)

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil (I usually use light flavored olive oil)

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 

Salted Caramel Sauce

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon corn syrup

1/4 cup water

3 Tablespoons Challenge unsalted butter

3/4 teaspoons salt (such as good quality sea salt)

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Candied Nuts

2 cups roughly chopped pecans

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 Tablespoons Challenge unsalted butter

2 Tablespoons water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

 

Salted Caramel Frosting

12 Tablespoons Challenge unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)

4 oz. (1/2 block) Challenge cream cheese

2 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup caramel sauce (from recipe above, or good quality store-bought, see notes)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Prepare the cake-

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F., grease and lightly flour the sides of your baking pans, and line the bottoms with parchment paper (see notes for pan sizes).

2.  In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices, then set aside.

3.  In another large bowl, whisk the pumpkin, sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla and stir (stir vigorously by hand or on medium speed with an electric mixer for 30 seconds or so).

4.  Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and stir until completely combined.

5.  Divide batter into prepared pans and bake cakes until the tops are slightly rounded and a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean (no wet batter).  I used 2, 6" pans and baked them for about 40 minutes.  If you are using 8" pans the time will be a bit less (check after 25 minutes).  Cupcakes will bake in 22-24 minutes. (See notes below on cake sizes)

6.  Cool the cakes in the pans about 10 minutes, then (carefully) remove from pans and cool fully on a cooling rack.

Make the Caramel Sauce -

1.  Warm the heavy cream in a bowl in the microwave and then set aside.

2.  In a large saucepan, add the sugar, corn syrup, and water.  Stir gently to incorporate the ingredients.

3.  Cook over medium to medium-high heat, stirring gently, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is bubbling.

4.  Stop stirring and allow the mixture to boil undisturbed until it begins to darken in color.  You want the mixture to reach a honey color, but no darker.  The syrup will change from light in color to dark very quickly, so it's important to watch closely and remove the pan from the heat as soon as it's light-medium honey color.

5.  Once removed from heat, carefully and slowly pour in the warm heavy cream (the mixture will hiss and bubble).  Stir to full incorporate the cream.

6.  Add butter and salt and stir to combine.  Add vanilla.

7.  Allow sauce to cool a bit, then pour into a jar. Cool at room temperature, then cover jar and store in the refrigerator.

Prepare Candied Nuts -

1.  Add pecans, brown sugar, butter and water to a heavy bottom saucepan and cook over medium heat.  Stir to combine ingredients.

2.  Allow the mixture to come to a boil and boil, while stirring occasionally, until most all of the water has evaporated (so there is not much sauce in the pan, it's move of just a coating on the pecans), about 5- 10 minutes.

3.  Remove pan from heat and add salt and cinnamon.  Stir well.

4.  Spread the nuts onto a parchment paper covered baking sheet and break up any clusters. Allow to cool.

Make the Salted Caramel Frosting -

1.  Cut cold butter into a few large pieces and then, in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter until smooth.

2.  Add cream cheese and blend until fully combined and smooth.

3.  Add about half of the powdered sugar, then while the mixer is running, pour in the caramel sauce.  The caramel sauce should be no warmer than room temperature.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Continue blending and add the remaining powdered sugar, vanilla and salt.

The frosting should be thick, creamy and fluffy.  If by chance you kitchen is very warm, or the caramel sauce was too warm when you added it, place the bowl of frosting in the fridge to firm up, then beat once more before use.

Assemble the cake -

1.  Level and split cake layers as desired.

2.  For easy assembly, add the frosting to a large piping bag fitted with a large round tip.  This is optional.

3.  Begin with a layer of cake on the plate or cake stand of your choice.  Add a layer of frosting by piping a large spiral, then spread as needed with an offset spatula.  Alternatively, scoop a large dollop of frosting onto the cake layer, and spread as needed with an offset spatula.  Add a drizzle of caramel sauce on top of the frosting.

4.  Repeat layers of cake, then frosting, then a caramel drizzle.

5.  On top of the cake add a generous topping of candied nuts.

Enjoy!

Prepare ahead - This cake has several components, but the work can be broken up over 2 days. Feel free to bake the cake and make the caramel sauce a day in advance. Keep the cake covered in plastic wrap, and at room temperature. Keep the caramel sauce covered in the fridge. If the caramel sauce is made ahead you will need to warm it just a bit in the microwave so it's pour-able.

Cake sizes - The cake pictured is a 6" cake. I baked two 6" pans of cake (which were later split in half), plus had a little batter left over to make 3-4 cupcakes. If you want to make an 8" cake you can divide the batter into two or three pans. If using 8" pans the cake will be not nearly as tall as the cake pictured.

Caramel Sauce - The caramel sauce listed is not terribly hard to make, and truly delicious, but you can save a bit of time by skipping the homemade sauce and using a good quality salted caramel sauce of your choice. My favorite store-bought sauce is Trader Joe's Fleur de sel Caramel Sauce.

Ingredient note - I used Challenge brand butter and cream cheese, but feel free to use any high quality brand of your choice. Using unsalted butter is the standard for most baking, but if you only have salted butter you will need to reduce or eliminate the added salt.

Recipe source - Glorious Treats (cake adapted from my Pumpkin Cupcakes recipe, Salted Caramel Sauce recipe is from my book Glorious Layered Desserts)

 

Happy  baking!

Disclosure – I created this recipe as part of an ongoing partnership with Challenge Dairy.  Partnering with brands I love allows me to provide you high quality content at no cost to you.  I only work with brands I use and love.  All images, text and opinions are my own.
Simply the PERFECT cake for fall!  Moist and flavorful Pumpkin Cake is paired with Salted Caramel Frosting, Candied Pecans and even more amazing caramel!

31 comments

  1. Omg! That caramel makes it look irresistible!

  2. Another winner! This is gorgeous and does look like the perfect treat!

  3. Thanks for a great recipe once again. I love everything in this cake 😉 Just a quick question. you call for corn syrup in the making of caramel sauce, but I don’t see it in the ingredients list. How much should I add? Thanks
    Happy fall baking :)

    • Oppps, I guess I was too excited to post this and rushed a bit! I’ve updated the recipe now. It’s just 1 Tablespoon of corn syrup, but it is an important ingredient to help make sure the sugar doesn’t crystallize.
      Thanks for the lovely comment! I hope you give it a try and enjoy it as much as we did!

  4. Beautiful cake!!! How much corn syrup do you put??

    • Oppps, I guess I was too excited to post this and rushed a bit! I’ve updated the recipe now. It’s just 1 Tablespoon of corn syrup, but it is an important ingredient to help make sure the sugar doesn’t crystallize.
      Happy baking!

  5. Thank you for such a perfect recipe, they all are great. I tryed pumpkin biscuits and everyone loved them. Now I baked pumpkin cupcakes (which is almost the same recipe like this one) and they came out raw in the middle. Do u know please where I’ve gone wrong? Ok longer in the oven, but how long do u stir your batter for. Thank you for any reply, love your page, u doing great job!

    • Hi Mira,
      For any cake or cupcakes they should be tested with a toothpick before cooling to make sure they are fully baked. When the cake or cupcakes have a slightly domed top and appear cooked, insert a toothpick in the center and remove. The toothpick should have no wet batter, but just a few moist crumbs, or come out clean.
      As for stirring the batter, for cakes and cupcakes the batter only needs to be stirred just until all of the ingredients are well incorporated, do not over-beat.
      Happy baking!

  6. This is the most beautiful cake EVER!

  7. Wow that looks like an amazing cake! Pumpkin + salted caramel is just a delicious combo, this sounds like a great use of it :)

  8. Oh…my…gosh…that is INSANE! So many many many layers. Absolutely drool-worthy! Thanks for sharing :)

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  11. I made this cake this past weekend and it was a BIG hit! I used 3 8″ pans and it was a perfect as a 3 layer cake. So delicious and moist and not overly sweet.

  12. Can not wait to try this. ….looks sooo good

  13. Made these into cupcakes for my hubby’s birthday yesterday. However, he is not a huge pumpkin fan. So I substituted apple sauce and added a bit more flour to make up for the extra liquid. I kept everything else the same. They were amazing! So glad I came across this recipe on Pinterest. My favorite part was the frosting. I will definitely be putting that into my recipe box for future use! Thanks for sharing!

  14. Love the sound of this recipe and can’t wait to try it out. Thanks so much

  15. To get the cake like the one in your pictures I would need to bake two 6 in cakes, correct?
    If so, would I just double the recipe to do that?
    Thanks

  16. Hi thanks for a lovely looking recipe I’ll give it a try today, however can I substitute corn syrup with anything else? It’s not available in my country, thnx

  17. Just made this cake for a Thanksgiving and birthday celebration. Looked and tasted amazing. Thanks for the recipe!

  18. This is THE best pumpkin cake recipe! I doubled the recipe and made a 2 tiered cake on Sunday. (doubling the recipe gave me 2-8 inches cakes and 2-6 inch cakes) Then I made a single batch for cupcakes on Monday. My oven is a little finnicky so I baked everything at 325. It took a little longer but I didn’t want the outside to burn before the center was done. Everything came out perfect and everyone loved the cake/cupcakes.
    Thank you for an amazing recipe! I will definitely be putting this on my recipe box.
    I only needed the cake portion of this post but I can’t wait to try the salted caramel.

  19. I just finish my cake! It turned out amazing! I can’t wait for everyone to try it tonight. I did add 1/4 tsp of pumpkin pie spice to the frosting to add more pumpkin flavor. Thank you so much for the recipe, I will definitely use this every year instead of a pumpkin pie!!!

  20. For the frosting do you use cold butter and cold cream cheese? I have made tons of cream cheese buttercream but I have never done it with cold ingredients. Is this to compensate for the added moisture from the caramel?

    • Yes, I generally use cold (right from the fridge) butter and cream cheese for my frostings. Now, this is only possible to do if you have a large stand mixer (like at Kitchen Aid). If you are using a hand mixer, the ingredients will need to be room temperature or they’ll be too firm to blend. I use cold ingredients so the frosting is firm enough to hold it’s shape. It’s not quite as essential when frosting a cake (like this) as it is when frosting cupcakes and you really want the frosting to keep it’s shape. Either way, if the frosting is a little too soft to work with after you’ve made it, you can always just pop it in the fridge and let it firm up a bit before use. Happy baking!

  21. I made this cake for Thanksgiving and it was a big hit!
    One question…Can this be made as a bundt and what do you think the cooking time would be?

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