Fall Cliche Cake for a Virtual Pumpkin Party!

fall cliche cake

About this cake.

We were faced with a fridge full of stuff people enamored with fall buy: canned pumpkin, apple cider, cream cheese. Meanwhile, I was in a baking mood but couldn’t decide what to make: apple cider donuts? Pumpkin bundt cake? Cream cheese danishes? Well, yes to all, but my waistline doth protest.

So one evening, in a rare burst of spontaneous baking, I set out to make a cake using only what we had in our fridge. Normally my layer cake baking is a 2+ day affair, mainly because I have an active toddler who only naps once a day. But fueled by coffee and inspiration from a little too much Great British Baking Show, I was determined to churn something out.

The result? I present to you the Fall Cliche Cake: pumpkin spice cake layers glued together with maple cream cheese frosting, drizzled with mulled apple cider caramel sauce. This is the cake version of what you order when you can’t decide between a Pumpkin Spice Latte and a Caramel Apple Cider and you hope your significant other orders one so you can actually have a bit of both. This is what you want to eat while admiring the fall foliage and wearing your boots and chunky sweater. All in all, this took me about 4 hours start to finish (not including the scrub-down of the kitchen, sadly), and I couldn’t be more pleased with the result. In fact, this cliche may become our new tradition.

inside3

This cake was also created with a party in mind — a Virtual Pumpkin Party hosted by bloggers Sara at Cake Over Steak and Aimee at Twigg Studios. It’s an honor to be able to participate in this take-over-the-internet-with-all-things-pumpkin recipe extravaganza with so many talented bloggers. I just wish the party were in person so I could try all the amazing dishes. Please check out the entire recipe list at the bottom of this post!

A few recipe notes:

  1. If you don’t have mulled cider sitting around in the fridge, you can make this with regular apple cider. Or, steep your cider with a cinnamon stick, a few cloves, a couple star anise, a few cardamom pods, and a chunk of nutmeg for as long as you can, then proceed with the recipe. Alternatively, you could add a pinch of cinnamon to the caramel when you add the vanilla.
  2. Use COLD cream cheese for the frosting. I know, I thought the same thing…room temperature everything! But the cold cream cheese actually doesn’t take that much longer to incorporate, plus it helps the frosting keep its body a bit better instead of becoming a soft, unworkable mess.
  3. Layer cakes are much easier to assemble when the cake is completely cooled, preferably chilled. Normally I make the layers a day ahead and chill them overnight, but in this case I just stuck them, uncovered, in the freezer for about 10 minutes after they’d come to room temperature. Worked great.
  4. There is enough frosting here to scantily ice a 3-layer, six inch cake. If you want to go fully frosted, double the recipe.

Fall Cliche Cake

Makes one 6-inch, 3-layer cake | Cake adapted from Sweetapolita / Frosting adapted from Call Me Cupcake

Ingredients

For the pumpkin spice cake:

  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) grapeseed oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) pumpkin puree (I used canned)
  • 2 cups (260 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the maple cream cheese icing:

  • 150 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 c (180g) powdered sugar
  • 200 g cream cheese, COLD and cubed
  • 1-2 Tbsp maple syrup

For the apple cider caramel sauce:

  • 2 cups apple cider (preferably mulled)
  • 1 cup (200 g) light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Tbsp corn syrup
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 generous pinch sea salt

To finish:

  • Chopped pecans
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Fresh thyme branches

Method

For the Pumpkin Spice Cake Layers:

  1. Spray three 6-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper rounds. Spray and flour the pans.
  2. In the large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the oil and vanilla and beat on medium until combined, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the pumpkin and mix until combined, about another 30 seconds.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and salt, and with the mixer on the lowest speed, gradually add to pumpkin/egg mixture.
  5. Evenly distribute batter into the prepared pans (weigh them if possible with digital kitchen scale for about 370 g per pan), smooth with a small offset palette knife and place in the center of the middle rack of the oven, about 2 inches apart. Bake until a knife or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.
  6. Let pans cool on a wire rack 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack and cool them completely.

For the Maple Cream Cheese Icing:

  1. Beat butter until pale, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add powdered sugar and continue beating until frosting is very pale and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add cream cheese and beat until just smooth. Beat in maple syrup a tablespoon at a time, tasting after the first to check the flavor. Add the second if necessary. Use immediately.

For the Apple Cider Caramel Sauce:

  1. Add the apple cider to a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat and bring to boil. Allow the apple cider to cook down to about 1/3 cup.
  2. Add the brown sugar and corn syrup and stir just until the sugar is dissolved. Heat without stirring until the mixture reaches 240F on a candy thermometer.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in butter, heavy cream, and vanilla. Return to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the caramel thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon.
  4. Remove from heat and add a pinch of sea salt; stir to combine. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before transferring to a heat-safe jar.
  5. Store at room temperature for 3 days or in the fridge for several weeks.

To assemble:

  1. Level your cakes (this is easiest to do when they’re completely cool; I like to stick them in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes right before assembly). Choose a layer for the bottom and put bottom-side down on a cake board.
  2. Spread about a 1/2 cup of icing evenly over the layer, followed by a generous drizzle of caramel sauce. Repeat with the next two layers, ending with just a layer of frosting on the top. Add a thin layer of icing over the entire cake. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes to set.
  3. When the cake is chilled and the caramel is your desired drizzle consistency (test a drip on the side to see), drizzle the caramel on the sides and spread a layer on top. I like to use a squirt bottle for the side drips, but you can use a spoon or just pour over the top and nudge it to the edges with a palette knife if you’re brave.
  4. Decorate with chopped pecans, pepitas, and thyme branches, if desired.

Virtual Pumpkin Party!

Cake Over Steak • Quick Pumpkin and Kale Risotto + Arancini

Twigg Studios • Sausage Stuffing Baked in a Pumpkin

Donuts, Dresses and Dirt • Pumpkin Spice Latte Popsicles

Cloudy Kitchen • Pumpkin Cake with Vanilla German Buttercream

Vegetarian Ventures • Smoky Pumpkin & Black Sesame Hummus

Eat Boutique • Pumpkin Scallion Dumplings

A Little Saffron • Pumpkin Stuffed Shells

Two Red Bowls • Pumpkin & Maple Caramel Baked French Toast

Wallflower Kitchen • Mini Pumpkin & Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

Wit & Vinegar • Pumpkin Butterscotch Banana Split

Style Sweet CA • Pumpkin Creme Brulee Cake

Nommable • Pumpkin Biscuits with Mushroom Thyme Gravy

With Food + Love • Cinnamon Raisin Pumpkin Seed Bread

Hortus • Creamy Roasted Squash Soup + Pumpkin Risotto

Sevengrams • Vegan Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

Jojotastic • 1 Pumpkin, 2 Ways: Pumpkin Trail Mix & Dog Treats

Grain Changer • Pumpkin Spice Baked Oatmeal

Girl Versus Dough • Pumpkin Cranberry Flax Crisps

Earthy Feast • Pumpkin Grits + Pumpkin Home Fries + a Fried Egg

Harvest and Honey • Truffled Pumpkin Papardelle Alfredo with Frizzled Sage

Tasty Seasons • Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake

Broma Bakery • Pumpkin Butter Pop Tarts

Tending the Table • Roasted Pumpkin and Barley Salad

The Sugar Hit • Super Soft Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Delicious Not Gorgeous • Waffles with Spiced Pumpkin Butter and Brown Sugar Walnut Crumble

Taste Love and Nourish • Pumpkin Bread Pudding

The Green Life • Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Skillet Cookie (Vegan)

Foolproof Living • Pumpkin Creme Fraiche Pasta with Sage

The Monday Box • Pumpkin Mini Bundt Cakes

Design Crush • Pumpkin Bourbon Hot Toddy

The Road to Honey • Pumpkin Pie & Chocolate Layer Cake

My Name is Yeh • Roasted Pumpkin with Yogurt and Hazelnut Dukkah

Give Recipe • Orange Chocolate Pumpkin Bread

Heartbeet Kitchen • Magic Vegan Pumpkin Pie Fudge

Beard and Bonnet • Marbled Pumpkin Muffins

Eat Within Your Means • Vegan Pumpkin Blender Muffins

Snixy Kitchen • Pumpkin Tapioca Pudding with Candied Pumpkin Seeds

Ruby Josephine • Moroccan Sweet Pumpkin + Beef Tagine

Lab Noon • Pasta Bake with Roasted Pumpkin and Saffron Sauce, Pistachio and Goat Cheese

An Edible Mosaic • Pumpkin Spice Chia Seed Pudding

Hey Modest Marce • Mascarpone Pumpkin Pie

Inspired By the Seasons • Pumpkin Applesauce Smoothie

CaliGirl Cooking • Pumpkin Praline Cinnamon Rolls with Spiked Cream Cheese Glaze

Sally’s Baking Addiction • Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bundt Cake

Well and Full • Spicy Chipotle Pumpkin Hummus

Appeasing a Food Geek • Cheese Fondue Stuffed Roasted Pumpkin

SweetPhi • Pumpkin Chili Biscuit Bake

Warm Vanilla Sugar • Buttermilk Pumpkin Doughnuts

Mademoiselle Poirot • Cinnamon-Pumpkin Mousse on Honey Panna Cotta topped with Hazelnut Brittle

Heart of a Baker • Pumpkin Sticky Buns with Vanilla Bean Frosting

Flourishing Foodie • Massaman Curry with Pumpkin and Chickpeas

Ginger & Toasted Sesame • Pumpkin Jeon

Lindsay Jang • Best Ever DIY Pumpkin Spiced Latte

Fix Feast Flair • Hokkaido Pumpkin + Sage Mac and Gouda

Will Frolic for Food • Pumpkin Kale Patties with Coconut Cilantro Rice

A Couple Cooks • Pumpkin Pecan Baked Steel Cut Oats

Vermilion Red • Pumpkin Pie Souffle

  1. Britnell • Vegan Pumpkin Pie

Displaced Housewife • Brown Butter Pumpkin Donuts

Sweet Gula • Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

La Pêche Fraîche • Pumpkin and Condensed Milk Cakes

Kitchen Konfidence • Pumpkin Ricotta Gnocchi with Rosemary Brown Butter Sauce

Loves Food, Loves to Eat • Savory Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Kale & Caramel • Goat Cheese & Sage-Stuffed Pumpkin Challah

Okie Dokie Artichokie • Pumpkin Chorizo Chili with Sweet Potatoes + Pinto Beans

Salted Plains • Easy Pumpkin Bread

Liliahna • Chicken Legs with Pumpkin and Tortellini

TermiNatetor Kitchen • Whole Wheat, Pumpkin & Brown Sugar Brioche

Vermilion Roots • Sweet Rice Dumplings with Pumpkin

Celebrate Creativity • Pumpkin Mini Cheesecake Tarts

Serendipity Bakes • Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake

So Much Yum • Vegan Maple-Glazed Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts

The Brick Kitchen • Pumpkin, Pecan & White Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches

Lisli • Pumpkin Pie Cake

Cookie Dough and Oven Mitt • Pumpkin Pie Dip

Fig+Bleu • Pumpkin Granola

The Speckled Palate • Pumpkin Caramel Cream Cheese Swirl Blondies

Cook Til Delicious • Fall Cliche Cake (Pumpkin Spice Cake / Maple Cream Cheese Frosting / Apple Cider Caramel Sauce)

Floating Kitchen • Chicken and Pumpkin Chili

The Wood and Spoon • Pumpkin Pecan Cake with Burnt Sugar Frosting

Fork Vs Spoon • Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

Lemon & Vanilla • Pumpkin and Coconut Caramel Flan

Dunk & Crumble • Pumpkin Chocolate Icebox Cake

Chicano Eats • Pumpkin Butter Pan de Muerto

On the Plate • Pumpkin Pancakes, Salted Caramel & Pecans

Rough Measures • Cosy Pumpkin Spice Latte (Caffeine and Dairy Free)

Brewing Happiness • Pumpkin Ginger Breakfast Cookies

A Butterful Mind • Pumpkin Cheesecake with Vanilla Whipped Cream

The Little Loaf • Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Fork to Belly • Pumpkin Gnocchi

The Little Epicurean • Chocolate Hazelnut Pumpkin Pie

Bourbon and Honey • Spicy Roasted Pumpkin with Honey and Feta

What to Cook Today • Spicy Pumpkin Noodle Soup

Food by Mars • Pumpkin Pie (Grain-Free, Diary-Free)

The Bojon Gourmet • Pumpkin Butterscotch Pudding

Oh Honey Bakes • Pumpkin Cake with Gingersnap Toffee

Long Distance Baking • Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake

The Jam Lab • Pumpkin Madeleines Dipped in White Chocolate

The Lemon Apron • Pumpkin Gingerbread Loaf with an Olive Oil Glaze

Sun Diego Eats • Thai Pumpkin & Sticky Rice Cakes

A Cozy Kitchen • Pumpkin Chai Scones with Black Tea Glaze

A Cookie Named Desire • Pumpkin Shrubs

Eating Clean Recipes • Vegan Pumpkin Chia Pudding

Kingfield Kitchen • Vegan Fresh Pumpkin Soup

Drink and Cocktail Recipes • Pumpkin Dirty Chai

The Pig & Quill • Pumpkin Sage Cannelloni (Dairy-Free)

My Lavender Blues • Pumpkin, Banana & Olive Oil Bundt Cake

Betty Liu • Pumpkin + Pear Butter Baked Melty Cheese

Happy Hearted Kitchen • Cinnamon Roasted Pumpkin with Tahini Yogurt + Hazelnut Dukkah

InHappenstance • Pumpkin Scones with Maple Butter

Live Eat Learn • Pumpkin Gingerbread Hot Cocoa