The kids and I spent all last week in Des Moines and it was lovely to be home. Crisp fall air, crunchy leaves, and the vivid colors bring back so many wonderful memories; it was nice to pause and take it all in. We even got a spattering of SNOW on Friday! Which for us California transplants was just perfect— especially since we got to leave the next day and come home to 70 degrees and sunny.
Now I’m back home, rested and ready to think about my favorite subject—the holidays! From now until eternity (or January, actually) it will be a non-stop holiday bonanza filled with recipes you are going to want to make at one point or another over the next couple months.
This celebration cake is the perfect way to kick it all off! If you are super ambitious or just have nothing better to do tonight, I encourage you to make this cake for the Dia de los Muertos festivities tomorrow and Wednesday. If not, keep it in mind as a spectacular way to end Thanksgiving, Christmas, or a holiday dinner party.
The lovely thing about this cake is it can be frozen—frosting and all— and keeps lovely in the freezer for up to a month! Make the cake and stick in the freezer uncovered until hard. Wrap tightly and freeze. Unwrap and defrost at room temperature for about 2 hours or so when you are ready to serve.
The layers of this cake are the essence of fall; pumpkin, warm spices, and a good dose of dark rum. Stacked tall in three layers they make a beautiful, enormous sandwich filled with milky dulce de leche caramel, and a brown butter-cream cheese frosting that is whoa, over-the-top good.
On top goes a one-sided blanket of toasted, chopped pecans that ups the level of sophistication to super-sheek.
For the Cake:
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup dark rum
- 2 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
- 2 (14-ounce) cans pumpkin puree
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 (13.4-ounce) can dulce de leche
- 8 ounces pecans, toasted and chopped
For the Frosting:
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and softened
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 16 ounces (2 eight-ounce packages) cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
Make the cakes:
- Heat oven to 350°F and arrange rack in the middle. Grease 3 (10in-by-2in) cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper.
- Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and salt in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, rum, brown sugar, pumpkin, oil, and vanilla until smooth.
- Add pumpkin mixture to the dry mixture an whisk until blended and smooth. Divide batter evenly between the cake pans and smooth tops.
- Bake for 40 minutes, until cake is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to cooling racks and let cool 15-20 minutes. Remove cakes from pan, discard parchment and let cool completely.
Make the frosting:
- Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a medium pan over medium heat until fragrant and dark golden brown, about 6 minutes.
- Add sugar, cream and salt, gently whisking until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, and cook for 3 minutes. Transfer to a mixer bowl, and let cool.
- With machine running, add remaining butter, a few pieces at a time, and beat on low until incorporated. Raise speed to medium, and beat for 2 minutes.
- In another bowl, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar on medium-high until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes.
- Add brown-butter mixture to cream cheese, and beat until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.
To assemble the cake:
- Trim tops of 2 cake layers and top and bottom of third (this will be the middle) to create flat even surfaces.
- Place a large piece of parchment paper on a cake stand and spread 1/4 cup dulce de leche over the tops of each cake layer.
- Lay the bottom layer on the parchment-lined stand and spread 1/2 cup frosting on top, then place middle layer on top (dulce de leche side down). Spread 1/2 cup frosting on middle layer, then place third layer on top (dulce de leche side down). Spread 1 cup of frosting on top and sides of cake and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
- Spread remaining frosting on top and sides of cake. Press chopped pecans on one side. Use the straight line of a piece of parchment paper to get and even edge.
- Slide parchment from the bottom of the cake and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.
The cake will need to chill in the refrigerator for about 6 hours in-between layers and before serving, plus plenty of time to cool so plan accordingly.
A Late Fall Fancy Dinner Party Menu
- Brandy Ginger Twist Cocktail
- Spicy Honey Goat Cheese Toasts
- One-Pan Cauliflower and Blue Cheese Stuffed Pork Chops with Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- Red Lentil Salad with Sweet Cider Dressing
- Pumpkin Layer Cake with Dulce de Leche and Brown Butter-Cream Cheese Frosting
One More Thing
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