Pumpkin Cake with Burnt Orange Silk Meringue Buttercream

Baking Time: 30 to 40 minutes (35 to 45 minutes in a fluted tube pan)

Anyone who has tasted this cake has pronounced it the best nonchocolate cake ever. Beyond being delicious, it is also adorable to look at. But don’t let not having the perfect two-cavity pumpkin-shape pan stand in your way of experiencing the cake. A ten-cup fluted tube pan works just as well. And if desired, to achieve the true pumpkin shape, you can even use a serrated knife to sculpt the bottom curve. To complete the illusion of a real pumpkin, you can decorate the cake with real or green-tinted marzipan pumpkin leaves and tendrils.



Volume Ounce Gram
walnut halves ½ cup 1.7 50
cake flour (or bleached all-purpose flour) 2 cups (or cups), sifted into the cup and leveled off 7 200
baking powder 4 teaspoons . .
baking soda 1 teaspoon . .
salt teaspoon . .
cinnamon teaspoons . .
nutmeg ¼ teaspoon .
light brown sugar, preferably Muscovado 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (firmly packed) 8.5 244
3 large eggs, at room temperature ½ cup plus tablespoons (4.7 fluid ounces) 5.3 150
canola or safflower oil, at room temperature ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon (4.5 fluid ounces) 4.2 120
walnut oil, at room temperature 3 tablespoons (1.5 fluid ounces) 1.5 42
pure vanilla extract 1 teaspoon . .
fresh or canned unsweetened pumpkin puree cups 12.6 357

Special Equipment

One Nordic Ware 2-piece 3D Pumpkin Pan (each half 5 cups) or one 10-cup fluted metal tube pan, coated with baking spray with flour


Preheat the Oven

Twenty minutes or more before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

Toast the Walnuts

Spread the walnuts evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about 7 minutes to enhance the flavor. Stir once or twice to ensure even toasting and avoid overbrowning. Turn the walnuts out onto a clean dish towel and roll and rub them around to loosen the skins. Coarsely break the walnuts into a bowl, scraping off and discarding as much of the skin as possible.

Mix the Dry Ingredients

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Sift the flour mixture onto a large piece of parchment. Add the toasted walnuts.

Make the Batter

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, beat the brown sugar, eggs, canola oil, and walnut oil on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until very smooth and lighter in color. Beat in the vanilla and then the pumpkin just until smooth. Add the flour mixture and beat until completely moistened. Using a silicone spatula or spoon, scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface evenly with a small metal spatula. In the two molds, the batter will be almost 1 inch from the top.

Bake the Cake

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes (35 to 45 minutes in the fluted tube pan), or until a wire cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cake should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after removal from the oven.

Cool and Unmold the Cake

Let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto a wire rack that has been coated lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Cool completely. Each cake will be about 2½ inches high (3¼ inches high in the fluted tube pan).

Make the Burnt Orange Silk Meringue Buttercream

See recipe.

Compose the Cake

When the cakes are completely cool, with a long serrated knife, carefully slice off the mounded top of each cake half. Spread a little buttercream on a serving plate and set one half of the pumpkin cake on top. Slide a few strips of wax paper or parchment under the cake to keep the rim of the plate clean. Spread a thin layer of buttercream on top of the cake and set the second half on top. With a small metal spatula, coat the cake evenly with buttercream. Finish by applying the more deeply tinted buttercream in long strokes from bottom to top to create the striped effect of a pumpkin. Slowly slide the paper strips out from under the cake.

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