Sunday, December 27, 2009

Our Favorite Holiday Cake

Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
My daughter spotted this cake in the November Bon Appetit and baked it for our Thanksgiving Feast. It was such a hit that we requested another for Christmas, and then I baked a couple as Christmas gifts.
It's an amazingly easy cake, very moist, with a taste that leaves you wondering...

Note: I had to double the frosting recipe to have enough icing for four layers, and I used Pecans* rather than walnuts to decorate.

Bon App├ętit | November 2009

by Carolyn Beth Well

Chinese five-spice powder adds a complex, spicy note to this cake.

Yield: Makes 12 servings


Nonstick vegetable oil spray

3 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder*

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar

3 large eggs, room temperature

1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin

1/3 cup whole milk


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature

1 tablespoon finely grated orange peel

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Chopped walnuts or walnut halves, toasted

For cake:

Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with 1 1/2-inch sides with nonstick spray. Line bottoms with parchment; spray parchment.

Whisk flour and next 4 ingredients in large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in another large bowl until smooth. Beat in brown sugar. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating to blend between additions. Beat in pumpkin. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions, beating to blend between additions. Divide batter between pans.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool in pans on rack 15 minutes. Run knife around cakes to loosen. Invert cakes onto racks. Remove parchment. Using tart pan bottom as aid, turn cakes over onto racks, top sides up, and cool completely. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap cakes in plastic and store at room temperature.

For frosting:

Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add cream cheese and orange peel; beat until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until smooth.

Trim rounded tops from cakes. Using long serrated knife, cut each cake horizontally in half. Place 1 cake layer, cut side up, on large platter. Spoon 2/3 cup frosting atop cake in dollops; spread to edges. Repeat 2 more times with cake and frosting; top with remaining cake layer, cut side down. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake (layer will be thin). DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover with cake dome; chill. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

Decorate cake with walnuts and serve.

*Sweet Toasted Pecans (Martha Stewart)

1 pound unsalted pecans

3 tablespoons butter, melted

4 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon light-brown sugar

1 teaspoon coarse salt


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine. Spread nut mixture in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with a nonstick baking mat. Bake, stirring frequently, until browned, 12 to 15 minutes; let cool. Pecans can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container up one week.


  1. This looks so good! Even just the frosting by itself, lol!

  2. That frosting is delicious! We put extra between cookies--so good.
    But the cake is really good, too! I'll definitely be making this one time and time again.
    Thank you!