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In the Kitchen with Kathy: Pumpkin Cake

Check out this delicious Halloween-inspired dessert

If you thought the quarantine-baking era was over, think again! Leave it to SI Swimsuit rookie Kathy Jacobs to get us back into the kitchen with an exciting, over-the-top pumpkin cake. Yes, it’s actually shaped as a pumpkin and, no, it’s not as hard to make as it sounds! This is a must-try fall recipe that we love for both its taste and counter-top appeal.


Cake ingredients:

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • (or spice cake mix; if you opt for this, you will then omit the pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 large eggs
  • 15 oz canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Sprinkles to cover the cake
  • Orange food coloring
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Frosting ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of shortening
  • 1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 8oz bar cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp sifted powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Brown fondant for the stem 

Cake Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F

In a mixing bowl or stand mixer, whisk to combine the cake mix, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon, then add water, eggs, canned pumpkin, and vanilla extract one at a time. Spray two bundt pans with baking spray and divide the batter evenly into the pans.

Pro tip #1 from Kathy: You can always bake the cakes one at a time if you don’t have two bundt pans. I cool off my pans in the freezer between uses. Don’t put batter into a hot pan.”

Bake until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. The time will depend on the size pan you use so read the baking times for the pan you use.

Pro tip #2 from Kathy: “Depending on the size of the pans, you can get one or two cakes from this batter. I used small bundt pans so I got two cakes from this recipe. If you use a regular size bundt pan you will need to double the recipe.”

Pro tip #3 from Kathy: “While the cake is baking, prepare the frosting. I got this recipe from Cake Central and it's great for decorating. You can also just use all butter instead of shortening since you aren’t piping decorations.”

Frosting Instructions:

Cream together shortening, butter and cream cheese until nice and smooth. Add vanilla into mixture and combine.

Sift together sugar and salt, and slowly add to shortening, butter and cheese mixture. Make sure that all sugar is incorporated.

Pro tip #4 from Kathy: *If the frosting is too stiff of a consistency, gradually add milk a teaspoon at a time to make the perfect consistency.*

Assembling your pumpkin:

Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes, then remove from the pans.

Pro tip #5 from Kathy: “ I put my cakes in the freezer for an hour to make them easier to work with.”

  1. Using a serrated knife, trim the cakes to make the bottoms level. This will make cake stacking and frosting a million times easier.
  2. Put a drop of frosting on a cake board to secure the cake.
  3. Place the first cake on the board upside down (this is the bottom part of the pumpkin). Fill the hole in with frosting, then put a layer of frosting on top and place the second layer on right side up.
  4. Frost your cake with a crumb coat (layer of frosting), then pop into the refrigerator for 15 minutes to set. This will make the second layer of frosting much easier to apply. If you are in a hurry, omit this step because your cake will be covered in sprinkles anyway so perfect frosting is not a must.
  5. While your cake is in the refrigerator, tint the remaining frosting with food coloring and get your sprinkles and shallow baking pan ready. Take the cake out of the refrigerator and frost with the remaining orange frosting. Add the sprinkles right after frosting the cake because if you wait too long the frosting will crust over and it will be too dry for the sprinkles to attach easily. Add sprinkles to the cake by pressing them in the frosting gently with your hands. Scoop up the sprinkles that fall off and reuse them until the whole It helps to do this in a shallow baking pan.
  6. Use fondant to form the pumpkin stem. Roll it into a log, then use your fingers to spread out the bottom of the stem. Add some knife marks to make it look more realistic. Then place it on top of the cake. You can also brush it with edible glitter if you want!