Servings: 8 to 12
A gingery glazed nut topping and brown-butter-spiked cream cheese frosting are the finishing touches for this spectacular spiced pumpkin cake. Double the topping if you want to pile the nuts on as shown in the photo.
For more side Thanksgiving dessert recipes visit The Guide to Thanksgiving Dinner.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.
Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans with removable bottoms (or butter two 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment, butter the parchment, and flour the pans).
Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown, about 4 minutes. Pour into a small bowl and let stand until cool but not set, about 15 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves. In a large bowl, whisk 1-1/2 cups of the pumpkin purée with the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and buttermilk until very well blended. With a rubber spatula, stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Gently whisk in the brown butter until completely incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
Bake the cakes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 28 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto racks, remove the pan bottoms or parchment, and cool completely.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light in color and the brown sugar has dissolved, 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.
Put one cake layer on a cake plate. Spread 1/2 cup of the frosting on the layer. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the nut mixture over the frosting and top with the second layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Arrange the remaining topping in a ring 1-1/2 inches in from the edge of the cake and serve
Make Ahead Tips
You can make the purée up to 2 days ahead. The assembled, frosted cake can be covered with a cake dome and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve at room temperature.
You can substitute canned pumpkin purée for homemade, if you like.
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I made this cake for the first time yesterday. Our Thanksgiving dinner guests said it was the best cake they ever had. I used canned pumpkin but followed the rest of the directions.
I make this cake every autumn. It is an absolute stunner. I don't really believe that there is such a thing as the best cake ever, but if there was, this cake would be it for me. I, too, use canned pumpkin and it's so good already that I hesitate to mess with the recipe by trying to make my own pumpkin puree. I would eat this moist, balanced cake without the frosting. It would also be perfectly happy eating it with double the frosting. I would eat it in a box with a fox. I will want it every year for my birthday. Genuinely thankful for this recipe!
Delicious! I cheat a bit and use canned pumpkin but otherwise follow the recipe exactly. I took it to work a few years ago and didn't come home with so much as a crumb! It's now a regular request for Thanksgiving and work events. It's good with just a dusting of powdered sugar instead of the frosting for those who prefer less sweetness in their dessert.
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