Spiced pumpkin cake with vanilla german buttercream - A pumpkin party with presents!


Happy happy virtual pumpkin party! I am so, so grateful to have come across this amazing collection of foodies on the internet! I love knowing that I am part of a little supportive web via my phone or computer, and am constantly blown away by not only how amazing people are, but the raw talent that is out there! 

The lovely Sara and Aimee were kind enough to organise a virtual pumpkin party this year!  A bunch of bloggers all got together and we have all posted pumpkin recipes today. You can check out the full list on Sara and Aimee's sites, and follow along on Instagram with #virtualpumpkinparty! I am so excited to check out everyone's posts! 

Confession time : Canned pumpkin freaks me out. I don't know why it does, it shouldn't, its no different to ANYTHING else in a can. Haha. Maybe I am just an egg. It doesn't exist in New Zealand. When I was growing up we had an american exchange student staying with us who told us all about canned pumpkin - we didn't believe her, so she sent us a can of it all the way from the states. I don't think we ever opened it. In NZ pumpkin is very much more of a savoury thing - we don't celebrate thanksgiving so pumpkin pie isn't very prolific, we don't have the same obsession with pumpkin spice that America has, and the most common way to have it is either in a soup, or roasted. So I have made my own puree here, but if you don't have a weird aversion to it like I do, (its not you, its most definitely me), canned will work beautifully.

With that being said, I have a new found love for sweet pumpkin recipes! I love how the pumpkin stands up against the brown sugar and spices that are added, and this cake is no different. It is a simple pumpkin cake, with a little spice, finished off with a thin coating of german buttercream. German buttercream, unlike its Swiss and Italian cousins, is custard based, so  a little less 'buttery' tasting. It goes amazingly with the pumpkin in the cake. 

The cake itself is quite moist, so will keep wrapped for a few days in the fridge, making it the perfect make ahead dessert for an autumn or thanksgiving party. You can also prepare the pastry cream/custard for the german buttercream ahead of time, so when it comes to assembling all you will need to do is whip up the buttercream and frost the cake. 

I have added a recipe for home made pumpkin spice - these quantities make a small jar which is amazing to have on hand. Alternatively you can use a bought pumpkin spice mix. 

This makes a fairly large cake - if you are catering for less people, a half recipe will fill three six inch pans nicely - but make the same amount of buttercream. Theres nothing worse than not having enough.

AND what is a party without presents! The lovely Amy from Aheirloom and I have teamed up to bring you an awesome giveaway, which is double the fun because there are going to be two winners! We are giving away two skinny maple cake stands, same as the one I have used here - one to each winner. Amy's work is nothing short of incredible, and her cake stands compliment any cake perfectly! All you have to do is make sure you are following both Amy and I on Instagram, then leave a comment here on the blog post telling us what you would put on a cake stand! The competition is open to US and Canadian residents, and is open until Midnight on the 31st of October. Be sure to leave your instagram name in the comments! 




Pumpkin Spice cake with vanilla German buttercream
- Makes one 8 inch, 3 layer cake  - 

Cake Adapted from Tartine

Pumpkin Spice
5 Tbsp Cinnamon
4 tsp nutmeg
4 tsp ginger
2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp allspice

Pumpkin Cake
900g fresh pumpkin, peeled, seeded and diced into 1 inch chunks, OR 2 cups of canned pumpkin
3 1/3 cups (550g) flour
3 tsp (15g) baking powder
1 tsp (5g) baking soda
2 Tbsp Pumpkin spice
2 cups (500ml) neutral oil
1 1/4 cups (280g) sugar
1 1/4 cups (250g) brown sugar
1 tsp (4g) salt
6 eggs

German buttercream
1 1/2 cups (375ml) milk
1 Tbsp Vanilla bean paste, extract, or the scrapings of one vanilla bean
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp (255g) sugar
3 Tbsp (24g) corn starch
1 egg
2 egg yolks
3 cups (675g, or 6 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature. 
pinch of salt

Flowers to decorate if desired. (ensure that they are edible, or tape the stems before placing onto the cake)




Mix all ingredients together in a jar. 


Preheat the oven to 325f/170c. Grease and flour three 8 inch cake tins. 

If you are making your own pumpkin puree, add the diced pumpkin to a large pot, and cover with water. Bring to the boil, and boil for 10-15 minutes, or until the pumpkin is tender. Drain, and either mash well with a fork or masher, or transfer to a food processor and blitz until smooth. Cool slightly before using. Measure out two cups - you may have a little left over. 

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and pumpkin spice. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in another bowl,  mix together the pumpkin puree, oil, sugar and salt either with the mixer or a whisk/electric mixer. Beat until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition to ensure it is incorporated.

With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture a third at a time and mix until just incorporated. Ensure that there are no dry parts. 

Divide the mixture between the tins, and bake for 40-45 minutes, checking for doneness after 40 minutes, and giving it 5 more minutes at a time if necessary. Cool in the tins for 15 minutes then turn onto a wire cake rack to cool completely. 



 In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, corn starch, egg, egg yolk and salt. In a medium non-stick saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla to just shy of a simmer. Remove from the heat.

Using one hand to whisk constantly, pour half of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture. This helps to temper the eggs and stop them from scrambling. Whisk until incorporated, and then pour the whole lot back into the saucepan. 

Heat the milk and egg mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it begins to bubble. It will thicken quickly. Once it has thickened, cook for one minute, then remove from the heat. Pour into a shallow dish or bowl of a stand mixer and press some plastic wrap over the surface to avoid a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cold. If you are in a hurry, you can speed up this process by placing the custard mixture into a bowl, and placing the bowl into an ice bath, stirring frequently.

Fit your mixer with the whisk attachment. Whip the custard mixture on medium until creamy and lump-free. Begin adding the butter, a few cubes at a time, until fully incorporated. Switch to the paddle attachment and beat for a few minutes until smooth and silky. 



Level your cake layers using a cake leveler or a bread knife. Place the first cake layer on a turntable or cake stand. Smooth a thick layer of buttercream over the layer using an offset spatula. Place the second layer on top, and again smooth a layer of buttercream. Place the final layer on top, ensuring that the edges are straight and aligned. Using an offset spatula, give the whole cake a coating of buttercream, then use a scraper to remove most of it from the outside of the cake to give a 'semi naked' effect. Smooth the top of the cake, then decorate with flowers. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Remove from the fridge an hour or so before serving to allow cake to come to temperature.