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Pumpkin Pecan Cake 05

© David James Di Pardo – 2015

It’s hard to resist pumpkin desserts this time of year. Starting off with Canadian Thanksgiving, followed by Halloween, and American Thanksgiving pumpkin and pumpkin spice goods are everywhere. When looking for a dessert to bring to a dinner party, the temptation to make something pumpkin-y was overwhelming. I caved and surrendered myself to the cliché of another pumpkin themed recipe to be added to the blogger-sphere.

Pumpkin Pecan Cake 02

© David James Di Pardo – 2015

While I’ve made a few over-the-top cakes lately (most recently the Millionaire’s Layer Cake), I was hoping to make something casual, yet formal enough to serve guests. If you ready my Easy Peasy Carrot Cake post, you know my idea of casual means not fussing around with icing the sides of the cakes, cake turn tables, or piping bags. How do you make a casual cake formal enough to wow guest… add layers… For some reason the taller the cake and the more layers, the more impressive. Its a casual-chic loop-hole…

You could easily scale down the recipe to make a 2 layer cake, or if you’re feeling really adventurous, divide each layer in half and turn it into a 6 layer cake. I think that would look pretty awesome. The original recipe was for a two layer cake, but it seemed too simple and kept me up all night (yes, these are the types of things I think of while lying awake in bed). So the next morning I got up and baked up a third layer prior to heading out to the gym. 

Pumpkin Pecan Cake 07

© David James Di Pardo – 2015

The candied nuts may sound fancy, but they’re really simple. They’re basically nuts coated with a quick maple syrup mixture and tossed into the oven at the same time as the cake. Nothing hard or complicated about that. If you’re pressed for time you can omit them, or simply top the cake with some roasted nuts.


Pumpkin Cake with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting and Candied Pecans

Makes one 3 layer cake (serves 12-16)


  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cashew milk, or other non-dairy milk
  • 23 ounces canned pumpkin puree (1 1/2 – 15 ounce cans)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground flax seeds, mixed with 6 tablespoons of warm water
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 4 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup pecans, chopped
Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 1 1/4 cup non-hydrogenated shortening (such as Earth Balance or Spectrum)
  • 12 ounces non-hydrogenated vegan cream cheese (such as Tofutti)
  • 4 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Candied Pecans:
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • Pinch ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease three 9-inch cake pans and line with a circle of parchment paper.

To make the cake: In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, and salt.

In a medium bowl, combine the canola oil, non-dairy milk, pumpkin puree, flax seed mixture, brown sugar, and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the pumpkin mixture. Stir until just combined. Gently fold in the chopped pecans, taking care not to overwork the batter.

Equally divide the batter among the three prepared pans, and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake on the center rack for 32-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of the cake come out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Invert the cake layers onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

To make the candied pecans: In a small sauce pan over medium heat whisk together the brown sugar, maple syrup, and coconut oil. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for one minute more.

Remove from the heat and stir in the pecans and cinnamon. Transfer to a parchment line baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes at 350°F.

Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

To make the frosting: In a large bowl add the shortening and vegan cream cheese, and mix with a hand-held mixer until both are smooth and combined. Add the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, spices, and continue to mix until smooth.

To assemble: Transfer one cake layer to a plate or cake stand, and top with approximately 1/3 of the frosting. Spread the frosting to the edges of the cake with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Repeat with the remaining cake layers and the remaining frosting. Top the cake with the candied pecans.

Cake can be kept refrigerated until ready to serve, but is best eaten the same day.

Pumpkin Pecan Cake 09

© David James Di Pardo – 2015

Pumpkin Pecan Cake 06

© David James Di Pardo – 2015