Akram's Ideas
Akram's Ideas : Fall Festival Pumpkin Cake

Fall Festival Pumpkin Cake

A few weeks ago during our “Fall Festival” at work there was silent auction in which faculty and staff were asked to donate baked goods in order to raise money for United Way.

I’m all about helping for a good cause and well if you’ve read this blog for any amount of time you know that I love baking, so I had to donate something.

The Idea and Inspiration

I hadn’t baked anything large-scale since the move this summer so I thought what the heck why not go all out. Since the bake auction would take place during the “Fall Festival” I thought I wanted to go with an autumn themed cake, and what’s more autumn than a pumpkin.

Besides just making a pumpkin flavored cake I thought I’d make it pumpkin shaped as well. To make a pumpkin shaped cake I used my pumpkin pan that I purchased from William Sonoma several years ago and sadly they no longer care it .

While I knew I wanted to make pumpkin flavored pumpkin shaped cake I wanted it to be a bit more. So I took a look on Pinterest for autumn cake inspiration. There were lots of great ideas, but I really liked the fall stump cake I came across from Cake Central’s website.

Fall inspiration cake from Cake Centeral
Fall inspiration cake from Cake Central

I loved the addition of the autumn leaves and the stump cake itself was just a round cake. Thus I decided to make two round cakes as the base for my stump, then place the pumpkin cake on top, as if it was placed sitting on the stump. I would further embellish the cake with fondant leaves.

The Pumpkin Cake Recipe

Since my plan was to stack the cakes I knew I needed to make a cake that would support the weight of other cakes. This lead me to my trusty White Almond Sour Cream Cake (WASC) recipe. This particular recipe is wide-spread on the internet and is often recommended by bakers for tiered wedding cakes.

Pumpkin Cake Ingredients
Pumpkin Cake Ingredients

There are many variations of the cake and I did a little tweaking myself to come up with my pumpkin cake flavored version.  

Pumpkin WASC Cake
Classic White Almond Sour Cream Cake (WASC) with a Pumpkin Spice flavoring
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  1. 1 pkg white cake mix
  2. 1 cup all purpose flour
  3. 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  4. 3/4 cup brown sugar
  5. 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  6. 1/4 tsp cloves
  7. 1/4 all spice
  8. 1/2 tsp fresh ginger
  9. 3 whole eggs
  10. 1/4 cup water
  11. 1 cup sour cream
  12. 1 can pumpkin
  13. 1tsp vanilla extract
  14. 1 tsp William Sonoma Pumpkin Coffee Syrup
  1. In a mixer bowl shifting together the cake mix and flour, then add the sugar. On low speed add wet ingredients. When batter is fully mixed bake at 350 for 30 - 45 minutes. Time will depend on the size of the cake pan and oven .
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While most of the ingredients are fairly straightforward there are two which may stand out. First I used fresh ginger along with ground. This is something I learned from celebrity chef Alton Brown who discussed the use of fresh ginger several years ago on his show “Good Eats”. Second surprise ingredient was William Sonoma’s Pumpkin Coffee Syrup , that stuff is amazing and I used it in place of vanilla. Trust me it amazing!

One of the round pumpkin cakes for the stump
One of the round pumpkin cakes for the stump

In total I made 3 cakes, two round and one pumpkin. The pumpkin cake while was only one cake it was baked in two halves in the pumpkin pan.

The Cake Assembly

After the cakes cooled for a while I need to stack the two round cakes and adhere the two pumpkin cake pieces together. To do this I made a standard cream cheese frosting with a twist.

Cream Cheese Frosting

The basic cream cheese frosting requires 4 ounces of cream cheese, instead I only used 2 ounces and replaced the other two ounces with Phladelphia’s Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese spread. If you haven’t tried Phladelphia’s Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese , you should it makes even a plain piece of toast into a pumpkin dessert, it’s so good!

Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Frosting
Classic cream cheese frosting with a pumpkin spice twist
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  1. 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
  2. 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  3. 2 ounces Philadelphia pumpkin spice cream cheese spread
  4. 2 cups powdered sugar
  5. 1 teaspoon William Sonoma Pumpkin Coffee Syrup
  1. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth and creamy. Beat in the pumpkin syrup.
Adapted from Food Network
Adapted from Food Network
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If you are wondering why I didn’t just use a full 4 ounces of Phladelphia’s Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese for the frosting, the reason is it’s consistency. Since it’s a spread rather than just regular cream cheese it seems to be a bit on the softer side, I thought to make a bit of a stiffer frosting I should still add some regular cream cheese.

Lastly, as I did with the cake, I replaced the vanilla in the frosting with William Sonoma’s Pumpkin Coffee Syrup. I know what you’re thinking, this cake is a pumpkin spice overdose, and yes it is and it’s to die for!

Fondant Covering

After I had combined the cakes and did a full frosting covering around them it was time to get the fondant on. I make my own marshmallow fondant, which I’ve used before and plan to share the recipe in a later post.

I simply rolled out the fondant and covered the cakes. I started with the pumpkin cake. To make the stem at the top I simply rolled out a small piece of green fondant to a cylinder shape and then squeezed it a bit.

Pumpkin cake covered in fondant
Pumpkin cake covered in fondant

Once the fondant was on the pumpkin cake it really started to look like a pumpkin. To add a little more embellishments I also added some vines to the pumpkin.

For the stump I covered the top of my round cakes with a light brown and the edges with a darker brown fondant. Using a paintbrush and some brown food coloring I drew rings on the top of the cake to create a stump look.

To create the bark on the side of the cake I took a toothpick and drugged out indentions into the cake. The pattern is random and I just wanted to give it some texture.

Pumpkin Stump Cake
Pumpkin Stump Cake

Lastly I rolled out the leftover fondant to a relatively thin thickness and used a variety of leaf cookie cutters to make the leaves. I have a curved tool I got in one of the Wilton cake decorating classes I took several years ago. The tool is designed to create curves for fondant and gum paste embellishments. By placing the fondant leaves on the curve at different angles and letting them dry overnight gave both depth and a natural look to the leaves, as opposed to a flat leaf.

Stacking the Cake

I transported the cakes in separate carriers, one for the stump and one for the pumpkin. When it was time to set up for the bake sale I used 3 wooden dowels to support my pumpkin on top of my stump.

Stacked Pumpkin Cake
Stacked Pumpkin Cake

I made sure that the pumpkin was kind of off-center of the stump, for a more natural look. Then I placed the fondant leaves around the cake, to hide any gaps or slight cracks.

In the End

I hadn’t make a cake to this scale for almost a year and was worried I wouldn’t be able to pull it off, but I did. I was really happy with the cake and the flavor is amazing, that is if you like pumpkin.

Backside of the pumpkin stump cake
Backside of the pumpkin stump cake

The only thing I wish I would have changed is the color of the fondant. I wanted it to be a little deeper than it was, but I didn’t have time to put that much effort into the color. After all I did make the cake in one day starting at 4pm and ending at 1am. Yes I stayed up all night to make this cake.

As part of the silent auction they asked me what the estimated worth of the cake was. I did a quick search on the Internet for similar sized cakes and determined it was probably close to a $300 cake. Can you imagine?

Completed pumpkin stump cake
Completed pumpkin stump cake

Despite it’s worth it only went for $50 dollars at the auction. While that may not sound like much it was the highest bid of the entire auction. Granted everyone else only brought a platter of cookies or so. In comparison my cake was massive.

Overall I’m really happy with this pumpkin cake and love how it came out. I really enjoy making fun cakes and this was definitely a fun autumn inspired cake.

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Akram's Ideas : Fall Festival Pumpkin Cake

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Akram Taghavi-Burris

designer, writer, educator, tech nerd, crafter, baker, sewer and vintage collector, who Brings Creative & Crazy Ides to Life.

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