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Pumpkin Cake with Salted Caramel Icing

Pumpkin Cake with Salted Caramel Icing is a decadent fall treat. Three layers of moist pumpkin cake is layered with satin-smooth salted caramel Swiss buttercream.

Pumpkin Cake with Salted Caramel Icing is a decadent fall treat. Three layers of moist pumpkin cake is layered with satin-smooth salted caramel Swiss buttercream. #PumpkinWeek

Welcome to the final day of #PumpkinWeek! Hosted by Terri from Love and Confections, 19 bloggers will be sharing 65 pumpkin-filled recipes over the course of the week. Be sure to come back every day to see all the delicious creations – from muffins to cakes, cocktails, breakfast baked goods, savory pastas and stews, and gluten-free recipes too. You can also find these great recipes and more on Love and Confections’ #PumpkinWeek Pinterest Board!

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This is the #PumpkinWeek recipe I've most looked forward to sharing with you, so I thought I'd save the best for last. This beautiful cake is sure to be a show-stopper at your Halloween party or Thanksgiving dinner. There are three layers of moist pumpkin cake, spiced with cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. They are separated by the King of Buttercreams, Swiss Meringue Buttercream, flavored with salted caramel.

The cake is fairly straightforward, especially if you've made cake from scratch before. Making cake from scratch is not much harder than making it from a mix. Instead of adding all of the ingredients at once, you add them in steps. Don't worry if you don't have 3 cake pans. You can bake the first two layers, then bake the third after.

Pumpkin Cake with Salted Caramel Icing is a decadent fall treat. Three layers of moist pumpkin cake is layered with satin-smooth salted caramel Swiss buttercream. #PumpkinWeek

Even though this is pumpkin week, I think the buttercream is really the star of this show. I really hope you'll give this a try. In terms of technical difficulty, this one is pretty easy — no cooking of sugar syrup, like in Italian meringue buttercream. You just need to heat the egg whites until the sugar dissolves. As with all meringues, make sure your mixing bowl, whisk and whip attachment are squeaky clean and bone-dry before getting started, or your meringue will never form.

As begin adding the butter, the meringue will deflate. After you've added all of the butter, the mixture will look curdled. Do not panic. Just keep on mixing. Walk away if you need to. Eventually, almost magically, it will in one instant be a curdled, gloppy mess, and the next instant, it is a thick, smooth buttercream that you could eat with a spoon straight out of the bowl.

Pumpkin Cake with Salted Caramel Icing is a decadent fall treat. Three layers of moist pumpkin cake is layered with satin-smooth salted caramel Swiss buttercream. #PumpkinWeek

Pumpkin Cake with Salted Caramel Icing is a decadent fall treat. Three layers of moist pumpkin cake is layered with satin-smooth salted caramel Swiss buttercream. #PumpkinWeek

Pumpkin Cake with Salted Caramel Icing

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2½ tsp baking soda
  • 1¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¾ tsp ground cloves
  • 1¼ tsp salt
  • 1¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • 1¼ cup buttermilk
  • 20 tbsp sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1¼ cup tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract

For the salted caramel:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp salted butter, cut up into 6 pieces
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon Maldon's sea salt flakes

For the frosting:

  • 12 egg whites
  • 20 oz granulated sugar
  • 2 lb unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into tbsp-sized chunks
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • Sprinkles, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Spray three 8-inch round cake pans (sides and bottoms) with nonstick spray.
  2. Stir together the flour, baking soda, spices and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugars. Beat together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and scraping down the bowl between additions. Stir in the vanilla extract and the pumpkin puree.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, add one-third of the dry ingredients, then half of the buttermilk, another third of the dry ingredients, the second half of the buttermilk and finally the last of the dry ingredients, mixing in between each just until combined.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared baking pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-22 minutes total. Let cool in the pans about 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and let cool completely.

Make the salted caramel: Heat the sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. The sugar will clump at first, then eventually melt into a thick brown syrup as you stir. Don't let the syrup burn.

  1. Once the sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter. The caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added. Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Very slowly drizzle in the heavy cream while stirring. Again, the caramel will rapidly bubble and/or splatter when added.
  3. Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the salt. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Make the buttercream: Fill a large saucepan with one inch of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat until the water is simmering. Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisking constantly, heat the egg whites over the simmering water just until the sugar dissolves.

  1. Place the mixing bowl on the stand mixer and using the whip attachment, whip on high speed until doubled in volume and shiny meringue forms that holds medium peaks (peaks form, but the point falls over).
  2. Switch to the paddle attachment. On medium speed, begin to gradually add the butter, one tablespoonful at a time. Get comfortable, this will take a while.
  3. Once all of the butter is added, increase speed to medium-high and continue to beat until a thick, smooth icing forms. Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated.
  4. Scrape the salted caramel into the buttercream and beat until incorporated.
  5. Level the cakes, if necessary. Place a dollop of buttercream on a cake plate, and place one of the layers on top. Spread ½ a cup of buttercream over top. Place another cake layer on top, then spread another ½ cup of buttercream. Place the final layer, top-side down on top. Frost the top and sides of the cake.
  6. If desired, garnish with Halloween-themed sprinkles, or use any excess buttercream in a pastry bag with a decorating tip to pipe swirls around the bottom edge of the cake.
  7. Store any leftover cake in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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Adapted from Annie's Eats

#PumpkinWeek day 5 recipes:

Pumpkin Cake with Salted Caramel Icing is a decadent fall treat. Three layers of moist pumpkin cake is layered with satin-smooth salted caramel Swiss buttercream. #PumpkinWeek
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