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Pumpkin Layer Cake

This spiced pumpkin cake is enhanced by layers of a delectably rich frosting that features cream cheese and goat cheese. Quince, available in the fall, has a fragrant, apple-like flavor. If you can't find fresh ones, use pears or apples instead.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 12
  • Yield: Makes one 8-inch layer cake
Pumpkin Layer Cake

Photography: Jonathan Lovekin

Source: Martha Stewart Living, November 2010


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans and parchment
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for parchment
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups solid-pack pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • Goat Cheese Frosting
  • Quince-Ginger Compote (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush two 8-inch round cake pans with butter; line with parchment rounds. Butter parchment; dust with flour, tapping out excess. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl.

  2. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in pumpkin; add vanilla and ginger. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with 2 batches of buttermilk; beat until just combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

  3. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Bake until cakes are golden brown, edges pull away from sides of pans, and a cake tester comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Transfer pans to wire racks to cool 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks to cool completely.

  4. Place bottom layer on a cake stand or platter, and spread evenly with half the frosting. Top with second layer, and spread remaining frosting over top. Top cake with some quince-ginger compote, and serve remainder on the side.

Cook's Note

Make Ahead: Unfrosted cakes can be stored, wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Reviews (4)

  • pygmyblue 27 Sep, 2013

    I made this cake for a work birthday. Everyone loved it! the fruit compote is a must. I used 5 pears instead of the quince and cut the amount of sugar in half since the pears are naturally sweeter. Perfect. Awesome cake and easy to make too.

  • lesli 11 Dec, 2010

    This is a delicious cake-light, spicy, and just the right amount of sweet. I have also added carrots and it was a lovely, light carrot cake. I use cream cheese frosting because quince and goat cheese are not readily available to me. I like the idea of apple and pear compote. Maybe that's next.

  • WinkyDeveze 3 Dec, 2010

    This cake was very good but not what anyone at our Thanksgiving table expected. Everyone thought it to be a heavy cake and not very sweet. I also did not have time to make the compote, which I think would have added the sweetness it was missing. On the second day I warmed it up and that brought out it flavors and made it taste much better. I would make it again, as long as I had time to also make the compote.

  • Mcflurry3 27 Nov, 2010

    I want to say that this cake is fantastic. However, I didn't care for the frosting (nor did anyone else) and all my guests agreed that it would be better with just a dusting of powdered sugar. It was a very busy cooking day, so unfortunately I was unable to make the compote, but I think the compote with the "plain" cake sounds fabulous. I will certainly make the cake again! (just a note: quince are very difficult to find so I'm going to try it with half apples and half bosc pears).

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