Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

When a mama-to-be makes a cake request, you do your best to accommodate! I certainly wasn’t going to go overboard with the food at Rebekah’s baby shower since it was all virtual, with the exception of her and myself. I was, however, adamant that it still feel like a celebration, even if it had to happen during a pandemic with extra restrictions. And nothing says celebration like cake!

I asked Rebekah what her favorite cake combo was and provided some inspiration from the traditional to the wacky. She said she would particularly love pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting. I’m lucky to have an incredible bakery based in Harlem and when I called, I found out that their all-time best seller is their pumpkin cake – what luck! I told her about the theme so she could ideate on decorations, but something got lost in translation and I didn’t receive their response. Could I have followed up? Totally. A simple call or email on my part would have fixed everything, but I took it as a sign and a little push to try to do it myself. Baking is the one thing I always outsource since I’m not very good at it and could never make anything as beautiful as this bakery…but I had three weeks til the party, had already prepped the decor, and didn’t have to cook any of the food. I COULD DO THIS.

I googled around and landed on this recipe because it looked the easiest. I also gravitated towards this one because it was specifically a layer cake. I knew I wanted to make a layer cake and had a feeling that making a single layer/sheet cake recipe into a triple layer cake without altering bake time/temp would probably not turn out well. Then I went to Amazon and ordered cake pans because, like I said, I never bake and have zero necessary equipment.

The cake itself was easy enough. First, grease and flour the pans really well. (My cakes very easily came out of the tins and I’m sure this was why – don’t skip this part.) In a mixing bowl, whisk together 2 c. flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, 3/4 tsp salt, 1 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, and a pinch of ground cloves. Then, in the bowl of your electric mixer, start mixing on low speed until smooth: 4 eggs, 1 c. vegetable oil, 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1 can pumpkin puree, and 1 c. brown sugar, and 1/2 c. regular sugar. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Pour the batter into the 3 pans and bake at 325 for 35-38 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Mine needed the full 38 minutes.)

Let the cake fully cool and then add your cream cheese frosting that you’ve made in your electric mixer: cream 1/2 c. butter and 4 oz cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add 2.5 – 3 c. powdered sugar and 1/4 tsp vanilla. Mix until smooth and creamy. Add a bit of milk if you need to thin it out some. I messed up a bit here. I didn’t add enough powdered sugar and then added too much milk. It was a bit tangy and a little thinner than I’d have liked, but overall not bad. Note: this is enough to just lightly frost the cake.

Now for the fun part: the decorating. I wanted to keep things sophisticated and in-line with the rustic theme. Honestly, I was mostly concerned with keeping things easy. ::shrug:: Fun sprinkles really level up a cake and are easy to throw on. Neon Yolk is the brand most people know, but I went with some from Manvscakes since they were the same price and prime-able. I also had some coconut in the pantry so I put that all on the side of the cake, above the sprinkles because I like the textured look and thought it looked like snow and therefore fit into the woodsy theme. On the top of the cake I placed some rosemary branches because it looks like little baby trees and finally, I stuck an on-theme cake topper on top.

Was this cake perfect? Definitely not. Like I said, I messed up the frosting and relied on decorations to distract from the fact that it was lopsided. But it tasted pretty good and was made with love. I’ll definitely try it again!