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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This cake is fantastic! I've made it multiple times since I saw it on the cover of the magazine in the grocery store and knew I had to make it because it was so beautiful. A co-worker asks for it every year for her birthday. Everyone loves it (except my pumpkin-hating husband). I use canned pumpkin and it's delicious. I make it exactly as written, except I double the frosting and the nuts. Sometimes I triple the nuts so we can snack on them. I have also made cupcakes from the batter and frosted them with a cream cheese frosting that I added dulce de leche to. They were devoured.
As far as finding little clumps of frozen butter in the frosting, if you end up with some of the butter freezing, creaming it well with the brown sugar prior to mixing in the powdered sugar should take care of the lumps.
I saved this recipe last summer, because it sounded fantastic. Now that fall is here, I made two of these for the small restaurant I work for. I tripled the recipe to make six layers, so each cake had three layers. I used canned pumpkin and had to omit the crystallized ginger as we didn't have that. It was loved by all! It smelled so good baking that I had people walking past the restaurant come in to find out what the delicious smell was!
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