Hannah Drake

The Great Pumpkin Cake

EntertainingHannah DrakeComment

Back in 2011, my sister Cady and I decided to make a pumpkin shaped cake ahead of Halloween. This year, I was determined to make it for the second time.

Enter: The Great Pumpkin Cake.

It’s surprisingly simple, so don’t be fooled. I promise, anyone can make this cake.

First, choose what flavour you want your cake to be. Of course you can have a pumpkin-flavoured cake, but I decided to use my favourite chocolate cake recipe: Chocolate Zucchini Cake from Sally’s Baking Addiction. If you’re nervous about using a bundt pan, I would recommend finding a recipe specifically for bundt cakes. I had to make two batches of batter to make two cakes (which normally makes a two-layer 9-inch cake), and halfway through it, I panicked that it wouldn’t cook through or come out of the pan, even though I had greased and floured the pan first. It did end up taking about 35-40 minutes to bake. Let the cake cool completely before you start assembling and frosting. Make your preferred buttercream frosting while you’re waiting.

If you’re serving your cake on a cake stand, a good tip is to put down four squares of parchment paper underneath the cake so you can easily pull them out when you’re finished. Put the first cake upside-down in the centre of your cake stand or plate. (You can trim the bottom if it’s not even, but remember no pumpkin is perfect!) Add a layer of frosting on the top and set the other cake on top. Since my bundt pan has wide and narrow ridges, I made sure to line them up properly.

I filled the hole with crumpled up foil rather than frosting because that would have taken A LOT of frosting. However, if you’re using mini bundts and love frosting, go for it! I just flattened the top of the foil, but made sure to keep it lower than the outside of the cake, since real pumpkins dip in toward the middle a bit.

Start with a thin crumb coat layer of your orange buttercream on your cake. Once it’s hardened, add a thicker layer. I was really crunched for time, so I started rushing toward the end of frosting it and especially while trying to reshape the ridges. If you want to see a great job of shaping buttercream to look like a pumpkin, check out Preppy Kitchen. When you’re done frosting, remove the parchment paper from under the cake. You should have very little to wipe up, if any.

When my sister and I made the cake in 2011, we broke off a real pumpkin stem to use, but we didn’t have any pumpkins yet, I decided to make a small batch of green buttercream to pipe into a stem. Since it needed to stand upright, I added a bit more powdered sugar than normal to make it stiffer. (By the way, I use Wilton’s gel food colouring, which gives a richer colour with less colouring. Especially in the UK, I haven’t been able to find a decent liquid food colouring.)

When serving, remember you’ve essentially made two two-layer cakes. You can either cut thinner slices, or cut normal slices and separate the two layers, if some people don’t mind a little less icing.


See, it’s a lot easier than it looks and it will definitely impress your friends and family!