With its moist layers of lightly spiced pumpkin cake studded with golden raisins, this dessert conjures autumn.
The finished cake can be made up to 2 days ahead and covered with a cake dome and refrigerated. Let it stand at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours before serving.
Servings: 16 - 20
- For the cake
- 2 cups flour, plus more for the pans
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
- 2 cups pumpkin puree (canned)
- 1/2 cup (scant) chopped walnuts (optional)
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- For the frosting
- 15 tablespoons (1 7/8 sticks) unsalted butter, just softened
- 2 1/3 cups low-fat cream cheese, just softened (do not use nonfat)
- 5 1/3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted, plus more as needed
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, or more to taste
For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease three 9-inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with wax or parchment paper and flour the sides.
Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt on a sheet of wax paper; set aside.
In a measuring cup, melt the butter in the microwave on low, then add the oil.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs with the pumpkin puree until well combined. Gradually add the oil-butter mixture, whisking until light and fluffy. Gradually whisk in the dry ingredients in 3 or 4 additions, incorporating well after each addition. Add the nuts, if using, and the raisins. Divide the batter evenly among the pans, smoothing the tops and gently shaking the pans to level the batter. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned and a tester inserted into the center of the layer comes out clean. Let the layers cool for 10 minutes in the pans before turning them out on wire racks to cool completely (for about 1 hour).
Meanwhile, make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed, combine the butter and cream cheese and beat for 1 to 2 minutes, until well blended. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the confectioners' sugar; beat for a minute or so until the mixture is smooth, scraping down the sides of the mixer as needed. Add the vanilla extract and beat just until incorporated. The frosting should be thick, lightened and creamy. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
To assemble: Place the layers top (domed) side down; do not trim. Starting with the bottom cake layer, spread a generous dollop of frosting over it, then add a second cake layer and repeat with more frosting. Top with the third cake layer, then spread a very thin layer of frosting on the sides and top of cake, thus creating a crumb coat. Cover with a cake dome and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate the remaining frosting.
When the crumb coat has chilled, frost the sides and top of the cake, reserving about 3/4 cup of the frosting. To that reserved frosting add sifted confectioners' sugar as needed (about 1/3 cup total) to create a fairly thick mixture. Transfer to a piping bag or place in a resealable plastic food storage bag and snip off a corner of the bag. Pipe a decorative border of frosting around the base and top edge of the cake. Cover with a cake dome and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Adapted from Mary Lee's Desserts of Vienna.
Tested by Sue Kovach Shuman.
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