How to Make a Wedding Cake: Pumpkin Spice Cake

Triple the Flavor

So…it’s been a while since I started sharing the process of making a wedding cake with you. A lot has been going on around our house, and I will tell you all about it soon, hopefully amid oodles of Christmas recipes.

But for now, let’s get back to a very important job: making a wedding cake. It’s cake baking day!

Just to refresh your memory, we are smack dab in the middle of making a wedding cake: three tiers consisting of pumpkin cake filled with cheesecake and frosted with Baileys cream cheese frosting.

Baking the actual cake is obviously a big deal. But I found this to be the easiest and least stressful step!

The cake recipe I used was originally meant for cupcakes. Often, cupcake recipes don’t translate well into larger layer cakes, because they aren’t always leavened properly to rise well in different size pans. But this recipe, kept moist by the pumpkin even under long baking times, always came out perfectly!

This cake is probably the simplest from-scratch cake I’ve ever baked. It’s not fussy at all! There is no creaming, no sifting, and no alternating of wet and dry ingredients. It’s basically a dream cake…and I think we should take this recipe and turn it into a dream wedding cake!

And…as an aside…this is also the cake recipe I used to make cupcakes for Jake’s second birthday!

Now, we are making quite a lot of cake. In order to make a three-tiered wedding cake, we need about 16 cups of cake batter! I made two batches of the cake recipe posted here. (If you have a commercial-size mixer, you could do it all at once, but my Kitchenaid would not accommodate such a large amount of batter; I found it much safer to make two batches so I could actually mix all the ingredients together well without slopping any batter onto the counter.)

Let’s make some cake.

Pumpkin!Start by blending together the wet ingredients: pumpkin (of course!), oil, and sugars. Because I made a double recipe of this cake batter in order to bake a three-tiered cake, I simply used one large (29oz.) can of pureed pumpkin and divided it between the batches. I weighed out 14½ oz. each time to make sure I had divided them evenly. Of course, it would have been very cool of me to bake my own pie pumpkins and make my own puree, but I just didn’t have time or energy for that. Maybe you will be a rock star and puree your own pumpkin!

Beginning the BatterAdd the eggs one at a time, scraping between each addition.

WhiskedIn a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, warm spices, baking soda and powder, and salt. It is definitely important to whisk the dry ingredients together separately. This ensures that the leaveners get mixed evenly through the flour, which in turn allows them to mix evenly through the cake batter, producing a perfect cake every time!

Blurry DripsAdd half of the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in the remaining flour, scraping the sides of the bowl well.

Pans, ParchmentNow. Prepare the baking pans. If you are making cupcakes, then your life will be even simpler, but I found it very simple to get this cake into the oven. I used a 6″, an 8″, and a 10″ baking pan. Grease all three pans, then cut a parchment round to fit in the bottom of each. Line the pans and then grease the parchment.

Evenly FilledDivide the first batch of batter about 65-35 between the 8″ and the 6″ pan. Yes, I realize that isn’t terribly exact: the goal is to somewhat overfill the pans, within about ½″ of the top of the pan. The cake will rise as it bakes, and we will eventually cut off the tops.

Try to make sure the depth of batter in each pan is about equal (like we did with the cheesecake). You could even test the depth with two toothpicks if you feel nervous, but I eyeballed it since we are going to trim the cakes later anyway. (If you just can’t handle the inexactness, then aim for 3 cups batter in the 6″ pan and 5 cups batter in the 8″.)

I recommend dropping the cake pans several times onto the counter from a height of about 2″. This just releases any very large air bubbles so that the texture of the baked cake will be more uniform.

Set the two smaller cake pans in the oven to bake at 350°. My 6″ cake took 43 minutes and my 8″ cake took 48 minutes. Yes, that’s a long time, but these cakes are quite thick.

DO test the cakes with a toothpick. If the toothpick doesn’t come out completely clean, stick the cake back into the oven for another 2–3 minutes, then test again. It’s really hard to dry this cake out because of all the pumpkin, but a gooey, underbaked center would ruin the structure of the tiers—as well as the flavor and joy of eating them!

While the first two layers bake, clean the bowls and make a second batch of batter. Pour the entire batch into the 10″ cake pan. It should nearly fill the pan, with about ½″ to spare, just like the first two pans.

Pumpkin Cake LayersWhen the 6″ and 8″ layers are done, cool them in their pans on a drying rack. Please note whether the cakes sink in the center: if they do, then they were underbaked, and you should definitely start again! Better to redo than to build an inedible, collapsing wedding cake.

Bake the 10″ cake at 350° until a toothpick comes out completely clean from the center, about 53 minutes. Cool it completely in the pan.

When the cakes are completely cool, wrap them tightly. I used Press’n’Seal wrap and left the cakes in the pans. You could remove them, but I wanted to minimize the danger of dropping them on the floor or otherwise injuring them. AND it was very easy to trim the cakes later while they were still in the pans.

If you are forging ahead the next day to make frosting and assemble the layers, then the cakes will be fine on the counter or in the fridge overnight. If you are working ahead and don’t plan to assemble the layers for a few days, I would recommend redoubling the airtight wrapping and freezing the cakes until you are ready to move on.

Pumpkin Spice Wedding Cake Layers

lightly adapted from Annie’s Eats
makes a 6″ and 8″ layer OR a 10″ layer (OR 24 cupcakes)—please make a double batch for a three-tiered wedding cake

14½ oz. pumpkin puree
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
4 eggs
2⅔ cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
¼–½ tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. cloves
1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 6″ and an 8″ round cake pan. Line the bottoms with parchment circles, then grease the circles.
In a mixer bowl, thoroughly mix the pumpkin, oil, and sugars. Add the eggs to the bowl one at a time, mixing well between each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients until completely combined.
Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin batter in two batches, stirring on low speed until just combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl and stir again.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans, filling each pan about ¾ fill, leaving a ½″ gap at the top. Drop the pans onto the counter several times to level and release any large air bubbles.
Bake the 6″ cake about 43 minutes and the 8″ cake about 48 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out completely clean.
Cool the cakes in their pans on wire racks. When completely cool, wrap tightly and store on the counter (no longer than 24 hours) or in the refrigerator.
Make a second batch of this recipe with a 10″ round cake pan, using all the batter. Bake for 53–55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out completely clean.

Next time…

We will make Baileys cream cheese frosting and start to put this wedding cake together! Woohoo!

  1. One year ago: Herb Butter
  2. Two years ago: Pumpkin Gnocchi with Tomato-Sage Sauce
  3. Three years ago: Magic Cookie Bars

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