My pumpkin olive oil cake is a fall stunner bursting with pumpkin flavor and warming spices layered between lightly sweetened maple mascarpone frosting.
Fall is here and I’m welcoming it with open arms. As much as I will miss the stone fruits, I’m ready to retreat to my kitchen, turn on the oven, and bake all kinds of breads, tarts, and cakes. In a different life, I would have loved to open a bakery and offer seasonal treats. I contemplated the idea of a seasonal pop-up recently so who knows!
To celebrate fall and Beyond Sweet and Savory burning twelve years old, I’m sharing a beloved pumpkin olive oil cake with maple mascarpone frosting that I make every year for family and friends. Four layers of pumpkin sponge cakes spiced with cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg are sandwiched between a lightly whipped maple mascarpone frosting. The olive oil gives it a healthy twist while lending moisture to the cake. Add some fresh dahlias and this pumpkin olive oil cake goes from a moreish treat to a visual stunner perfect for your fall gathering.
- Eggs: make sure to use room temperature eggs. When it comes to baking, room temperature eggs allow them to disperse evenly into the batter trapping air. During baking, the air expands, producing light, airy, evenly baked treats. Batters made with room temperature ingredients are smooth and evenly incorporated. Cold ingredients don’t incorporate evenly, resulting in dense texture. Take eggs and other dairy products out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour before baking. Bring cold eggs to room temperature by placing them in a bowl of warm water for 15 minutes. Don’t use hot water which will heat them unevenly, and the whites will start to set.
- Olive oil: when it comes to baking, choose a quality fruity olive oil. Cakes made with olive oil tend to bake up with a moist and tender texture compared to ones made with butter.
- Pumpkin: I used canned pumpkin for this recipe. If you want to roast your own pumpkin, go for it. I recommend using red kuri squash, kabocha squash, or pumpkin pie for roasting.
- Spices: I used a combination of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. You can also use allspice, ginger, cardamom, or other spices that you like.
How to Make the Frosting
The first thing I made for the cake is the maple frosting. I whipped up heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar until soft peaks formed then added in mascarpone. Mascarpone gives the frosting a bit more structure compared to just whipped cream. Finally I added in maple syrup and vanilla extract for that subtle sweetness which complements the pumpkin flavor. I beat everything until stiff peaks formed then transferred the frosting to a lidded container and refrigerated until ready to use.
How to Make the Cake
This pumpkin olive oil cake is a one bowl cake. Whisk pumpkin puree, olive oil, yogurt, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt together. Sift in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices then whisk until combined. Divide the batter between two cake pans. Tap the pans on the counter a few times to release any large air bubbles or your cake might have a few unsightly holes after baking.
How Long to Bake the Cake
For this pumpkin olive oil cake, I used two 8-inch cake pans. If you don’t own 8-inch cake pans, you can also bake the cake in two 9-inch or 10-inch cake pans. This works just as well, but you’ll have a shorter and wider cake versus tall and skinny. Bake the cakes for 35 minutes at 325 degrees F for the 8-inch cake pans. For the cakes made with the 9-inch or 10-inch pans, check for doneness at 30 minutes. If baked, a skewer inserted into the center should come out clean.
How To Decorate the Cake
Cake decorating is not my forte, so I’m going with the semi-naked cake look. If you’re skilled at cake decorating, go for your favorite style. The first thing is to level off the top of each cake layer so both sides are flat. Flat and even layers add stability to your finished cake. I like to use my serrated knife for this job.
For frosting, I used an offset spatula to spread about 1 cup of frosting for the three layers in between. For the top, I used 1 ½ cups and the remaining frosting for the sides of the cake. Apply a thin layer of frosting to the sides of the cake, starting at the bottom and working your way up to the top. Once the sides are covered, use your bench scraper and smooth the sides of the cake until they’re straight and you have some areas of cake peeking through. Having a cake turntable is a big plus but not necessary for decorating.
When it comes to cake decorating, I love using fresh flowers. Use in season flowers that haven’t been sprayed with pesticides. For the pumpkin olive oil cake, I used fresh dahlias which appear from summer until fall and lend that beautiful fall vibe.
How Long to Refrigerate the Cake
Once you're done decorating the cake, let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before slicing and serving. Refrigeration helps the whipped maple mascarpone cream adhere to the cake layers and ensures a neater slice.
My pumpkin olive oil cake will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. It is best eating within three days.
Pumpkin Olive Oil Cake With Maple Frosting
- 2 8-inch cake pans
- offset spatula
- cake turntable
- 1 can pumpkin puree (15 ounces)
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- ¾ cup olive oil
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground clove
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Maple Mascarpone Frosting
- 2 ¼ cups heavy cream
- 1 cup mascarpone
- ½ cup confectioners' sugar
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- To make the frosting, in a stand mixer attached with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream and powdered sugar on medium speed until the cream forms soft peaks. Add in the mascarpone, maple syrup, and vanilla extract and whip on medium-high speed until firm peaks form. Be careful not to over whip or the frosting will turn into butter. Transfer the frosting to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and place a rack in the center of the oven.
- Line 2 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper and grease the bottom and sides with olive oil. Set aside.
- In a bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk together pumpkin puree, eggs, brown sugar, olive oil, yogurt, vanilla, and salt until combined, about 5 minutes.
- Place sifter overing mixing bowl and sift in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. Whisk until combined. Divide cake batter between two pans. Tap the pans on the counter a few times to release any large air bubbles.
- Place cake pans on the middle rack and bake for 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool to room temperature in the pans on a wire rack.
- When the cakes are completely cooled, turn them right side up and carefully run a small knife around the edge of the cake pan to help release the cake.
- Peel off the parchment paper. If the cakes dome a bit, use a serrated knife to trim it so the cake is level.
- Using a serrated knife, split the cake in half horizontally. You should get 4 layers.
- Place one cake on a flat serving plate. Spoon 1 cup of maple frosting on the cake and spread it evenly across the top.
- Place the second cake layer on the frosting and press down slightly to even out the cake. Repeat with the next 2 layers.
- For the top layer, spread 1 ½ cups of frosting over the cake and smooth it out.
- Using an offset spatula, spread the sides of the cake with remaining frosting.
- Use a bench scraper to smooth the sides of the cake to achieve a semi-naked look.
- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
- Decorate with fresh flowers. When ready to serve, slice the cake into 8 pieces, transfer onto serving plates, and enjoy.
- The cake will keep in the refrigerator for 5 days. It's best served within 3 days.