Oh my, this is the ultimate pumpkin cake. The spicy moist richness of the cake itself marries perfectly with that decadent bitter chocolate glaze and the sweet and salty popcorn topping. Come on, what’s not to like about this totally over-the-top pumpkin treat.
There are some cakes that just tick all the boxes. Those boxes being flavour/taste, texture, easy of making, enjoyment in the making and good looks.
Well, this spiced pumpkin cake ticks all those boxes and so much more.
While it looks quite impressive it is basically just a sponge cake with pumpkin puree in the batter. That makes a perfectly good tender and moist pumpkin cake.
You could stop there and just add a basic cream cheese frosting and it would make a fabulous autumnal treat.
Ah, but why stop there when you can throw so many more flavours and textures into the mix.
Okay, so I think I got a bit carried away with this pumpkin cake. Idgy was home this weekend and of course, it was my big excuse to bake again. Had to be Something Special.
I think maybe I went a wee bit over-the-top with this one. What originally started as possibly a pumpkin pie idea suddenly morphed into a pumpkin cake.
That’s fine I do lots of cakes. But then I remembered my daughter’s love of chocolate to had to throw that into the mix for my pumpkin cake.
How did the popcorn and salted caramel enter the equation? Movies. We were talking about what movie we could watch that night and I suddenly saw popcorn.
Ingredients for this pumpkin cake
Pumpkin of course, actually pumpkin puree and I’ll tell you how to make that in a minute.
Spices – I used mixed spice (I think this is similar to pumpkin pie spice in USA), ginger, cloves, cinnamon and vanilla.
Plus the usual suspects in a sponge cake – eggs, butter, self-raising (cake flour) flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt.
Now for the sugar I used brown sugar instead of my usual white caster sugar. I love the almost toffee-like caramel taste of brown sugar. I just seemed to be perfect for this autumnal cozy warm pumpkin cake.
How to make pumpkin puree
The most important ingredient in this pumpkin cake is of course the pumpkin. and no I didn’t just slap in a load of raw pumpkin into my pumpkin cake recipe.
I wanted a smooth creamy pumpkin puree to bake my cake. Alas, this is Ayrshire and we don’t have cans of pumpkin puree lining the supermarket shelves. Just have to make it myself.
Quick pumpkin puree
Cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds and stringy flesh. You can roast the seeds for snacking or for making my pumpkin pesto recipe.
Cut the halves into smaller pieces. I like to chop pumpkin down into pieces about 5cm/2″ in size as this makes cutting the skin off so much easier and safer.
Then chop the pumpkin into small pieces about 1cm-2cm in size
Place in a steamer and steam for about 10 minutes till the pumpkin is tender.
Blitz it in a food processor and set aside to cool. I put mine in the fridge.
How long will pumpkin puree keep?
This will keep in the fridge for up to a week. You can freeze pumpkin puree too for up to 3 months. Whoopee more pumpkin cake later in the year!
As usual, I have opted for my trusty 6″/15cm balking tins for my pumpkin cake. You will get 6 big slices of cake from these or 8 more modest pieces.
This is more than enough cake for us. If you want to use bigger cake tins for this recipe just double the quantities and make a 4 egg pumpkin cake batter.
Making the cake batter
Once that all-important pumpkin puree has cooled completely you can use it in your cake batter.
First I beat the sugar and butter together in my mixer then added the eggs one at a time.
Next, add all the dry ingredients until everything is well combined and then beat in the pumpkin puree till you have a smooth cake batter.
Fill your lined baking tins 2/3 of the way and bake in a preheated oven for approximately 25 minutes.
To test if the cake is cooked you should be able to insert a toothpick/cocktail stick into the middle and if it comes out clean the cake is done.
If there are bits of gooey batter attached then pop the cakes back in the oven for a few more minutes.
Let the cakes cool in their tins for a few minutes then remove to a wire cooling rack and let them cool completely while you make everything else.
Buttercream Cake Filling
I wanted a simple rich buttercream filling for my pumpkin cake. Nothing too fancy but a wee bit of that spice in there too.
It was a mixture of butter, cream cheese, vanilla extract, icing sugar and mixed spice.
Whip that together and spread a nice thick layer on your bottom sponge base and plonk the other cake on top.
Now you’re ready for that rather dramatic looking black chocolate glaze.
Dark chocolate mirror glaze
First things first. Your cake should be on the drying rack set over a baking sheet. This glaze is messy and will drip everywhere.
Now I know this isn’t a fancy chefy mirror glaze. This is just my version of a shiny dark chocolate icing that looks and tastes great on my pumpkin cake.
I melted dark chocolate (the good stuff 80% cocoa solids) in a Bain Marie (bowl over barely simmering water that doesn’t touch the base of the bowl) along with butter and golden syrup and a dash of vanilla extract.
How is my glaze so dark? I added a dash of black food colouring to get that really dramatic black look.
Once this had melted and cooled just a little I literally poured it over the cake and let it drip down the sides. Use an offset spatula to gently coax the glaze around so it covers the sides completely.
You have to be quick as this is sticky stuff and you don’t want to pull off bits of cake.
Salted caramel popcorn topping
Now for that pile of salty-sweet crunchy caramel popcorn on top of your pumpkin cake.
I used 2 tablespoons of corn and a teaspoon of veg oil in a pan to make my own popcorn. If you can’t be bothered with this then just buy some ready-made popcorn.
I don’t have shops nearby so used what was lurking in the jar above the Aga.
Once you have your popcorn made spread it out on a sheet of baking parchment.
The salted caramel sauce
The ingredients are butter, brown sugar, salt, vanilla extract and baking soda.
Melt the butter in a small pan along with the sugar, salt and vanilla
Melt butter in a small pan with the brown sugar for 5 minutes and don’t stir it. Now add the vanilla and salt and give it a stir then add the baking soda. It will bubble up at this point.
Stir then pour over the popcorn and stir everything about to try to get as much of the popcorn coated with the salted caramel as possible.
Finally, pile that salted caramel popcorn on top of the cake. You will find that it actually sticks to the chocolate glaze. Pile on as much as you can.
That’s it. You’ve done it, created this amazing spiced pumpkin cake with its rich chocolate glaze and outrageously decadent salted popcorn topping.
While I’m well aware that this is by no means a 15-minute cake job. This is what I call kitchen crafting.
It’s getting in there and having a bit of fun with youor ingredients and creating something a wee bit special.
I had a whole lot of fun with what started as a simple pumpkin cake and ended up as something of a show-stopper cake.
For me, that’s the whole fun of baking.
Spicy pumpkin cake with dark chocolate glaze and salted caramel popcorn topping
I promise you folks, this amazing pumpkin cake really is worth the faffing about with the different steps.
It’s rich and moist and just packed with flavour. The sticky chocolate glaze is a total indulgence. And as for the sweet and salty popcorn, well that’s just a bit of childhood fun and adds some crunch to the whole cake-fest treat on a plate.
How long will this cake keep?
Your pumpkin cake is so moist it will keep under a cake dome for up to 3 days. You can freeze the cake bases prior to all the icing etc.
Just wrap them well in clingfilm and pop them in a freezer bag and they will freeze for up to 3 months.
Looking for more fun cake ideas? Then check these out before you go;
Finally, if you do try this recipe don’t forget to leave a comment/star rating below as I just love to hear from readers. Want more Larder Love? Then follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter and sign up for my newsletter too of course.
Spiced Pumpkin Cake With Dark Chocolate Glaze And Salted Caramel Popcorn Topping
- 1 small pumpkin
pumpkin cake base
- 200 g pumpkin puree
- 125 g self raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 120 g unsalted butter
- 150 g soft brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- pinch ground cloves
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp cream cheese
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp mixed spice
- 300 g icing sugar
- 100 g dark chocolate 80% cocoa solids
- 30 g unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp golden syrup
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
slated caramel popcornn topping
- 1 tbsp popping corn
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 40 g unsalted butter
- 40 g soft brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- preheat oven to 180C and grease and line 2 x 6"/15cm cake tins
- Cut pumpkin into pieces and remove skin (see notes on post) and steam for about 5 minutes till tender then blitz in food processor
- you want 200g of pumpkin puree so if you have lots leftover store in fridge for a week or freeze for up to 3 months
Pumpkin cake base
- Beat the sugar and butter in mixer till light and fluffy
- Add the eggs one at a time then the dry ingredients
- finally add the pumpkin puree and make sure all ingredients thoroughly combined
- spoon into lined cakes tins and bake for approx 25-30 minutes till a toothpick comes out clean
- Cool a little before removing from tins on to a wire rack to cool completely
- Beat together butter, cream cheese, vanilla and mixed spice powder then add the icing sugar a bit at a time till you get a thick creamy paste
- Spread the buttercream on the cake base and add the other cake on top, keep this on the wire rack and place over a baking tray
- Melt the chocolate, butter, vanilla and golden syrup in a Bain Marie (or in a bowl over a bowl of simmering water)
- Stir till everything is combined then cool a llittle before pouring over the cake and letting it run down the sides. Use an offset palate knife to smooth the sides to make sure glaze has to holes but be careful not to pull on the cake itself
salted caramel popcorn topping
- Pop the corn in a pan and tip on to baking parchment discarding and small hard pieces
- Melt butter with the brown sugar and let it cook for 5 minutes without stirring, add salt and vanilla and stir then add the baking soda. it will bubble up, str then pour over the popcorn and stir about to get as much covered with the salted caramel as possible
- pile the popcorn on top of the glazed cake and carefully lift the cake on to a cake board to serve