Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Our team is very excited to share this guest post from our former team member Gina, who is now a cake-baking-rockstar. Gina made the cakes at my wedding this past June and people are still talking about how good they were! This would be the perfect dessert to make or take to your Thanksgiving meals. And the "Give Thanks" on the top is a super fun and festive touch! Enjoy!
Pumpkin Spice Cake
2½ cups all-purpose flour
2½ tsp. baking soda
1¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
1¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
¾ tsp. ground cloves
1¼ tsp. salt
1¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
1¼ cup buttermilk
2½ sticks (10 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1¼ cup tightly packed light brown sugar
1¼ cup granulated sugar
5 large eggs
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
> icing recipes below <
*extra cinnamon for decoration
*scissors + paper for stencil letters
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Grease the edges and the bottom of 2 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.  

2. Sift and combine the flour, baking soda, spices and salt in a medium bowl.  Set aside.  

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter (at room temperature) and sugars.  Beat together with a paddle attachment on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Blend in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and scraping down the bowl between additions.  Scraping down the bowl after each egg is an important step that will help the mixture to be evenly combined! 

4. Blend in the vanilla extract and the pumpkin puree.

5. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix in each addition only just until incorporated. Make sure you do not over mix it! 

6. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared baking pans.  Bake, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until the cake layers are just set (or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the top is springy) about 25-30 minutes total.  Let it cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and let cool completely. (You can see below that I already cut the top off one of the cakes, to make stacking them easier!)
Cream Cheese Filling

3/4 stick of butter
two packets of cream cheese (16 oz total) 
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla 

1. Cream together butter and cream cheese at room temperature

2. Add remaining ingredients and whip until thoroughly combined


Cream Cheese Icing

1 cup granulated sugar
2 sticks of butter (8oz)
1 packet of cream cheese (8oz)
1 tsp. vanilla extract 

1. Beat butter and cream cheese (both at room temperature) on high speed until light and fluffy for 2-3 minutes.

2. At a lower speed, add all of the sugar. Continue to whip on high until the graininess of the sugar is completely gone (it can take 5-8 minutes). 

3. Add vanilla


1. Cut each cake in half with a serrated blade  (there should be 4 layers total) 

2. Put down one layer of cake on a cake board and lightly spread on simple syrup (even amounts of sugar and water heated up until it boils. Use when it's cooled- it moistens the cake!)

2. Add desired amount of cream cheese filling. Spread an even layer on with a large offset spatula. Continue this step for all layers.

3. Apply an even layer of the icing on top of the whole cake and an even layer around the sides filling in all the gaps. Use a bowl scraper to scrape off excess icing around sides. This is the crumb coat so it's perfectly okay to see part of the cake! This step is to seal in all of the crumbs. Scrape down the excess from the top - you can use a large offset spatula to pull the icing towards the middle of the cake to get a clean edge.

4. Refrigerate for about 7-10 minutes or until the icing on the cake is firm. 

5. Apply the last layer of icing on the top of the cake, evenly applying it until flat. 

6. Apply a generous amount of icing to the sides so all of the cake is completely covered. Use a small offset spatula to create rustic lines on the whole cake!

7. Once cake is fully iced, write (or print!) out the words GIVE THANKS on paper. Cut them out. Do your best to center them on the top of the cake, pressing them very gently into the icing. Sprinkle cinnamon all over the top of the cake. Carefully remove letters. (Using a clean pair of tweezers to lift the edges of the letters really helps!)

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