pumpkin spice cake with cinnamon brown sugar cream cheese frosting and pepita brittle
Pumpkin Spice Cake, Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting, and Pepita Brittle layer into a single delicious fall bite in this rustic, Momofuku Milk Bar inspired cake.
One of the highlights of my New York City adventures this summer was a pastry class at Momofuku Milk Bar. Along with the recipes for their infamous birthday layer cake and cake truffles, the class taught the secrets behind the process in which they build their iconic “naked” layer cakes. I couldn’t wait to go home and bake my favorite cake recipes after learning how to easily create cakes with even layers that were packed with flavor. Thankfully fall was here before I knew it and I could try my hand at the Momofuku technique while baking my favorite pumpkin spice cake.
One characteristic of Momofuku Milk Bar cakes is that there is always a crunchy component. Something that breaks up the texture of the cake while giving a punch of concentrated flavor. Pepita brittle was the obvious choice for my pumpkin spice cake and boy was it a good idea. I’d go ahead and double the recipe if I were you. If you’re anything like me, there may not be enough brittle to top the cake once you finish snacking! Tie up a bag of it with pretty ribbon and you’ve also got a great hostess gift this fall.
The second most notable characteristic to the Momofuku Milk Bar cakes is how they are baked and layered. The cakes are baked in quarter sheet pans and then cut into circles so that they bake evenly as flat layers. Thus, eliminating the need to carve off the domed tops that are formed when baking in round cake pans. The assembly is done in a cake ring lined with acetate so that the layers can be stacked evenly and symmetrically. When the acetate is later peeled away, the resulting rustic cake is absolutely stunning. You could always finish with an outer layer of frosting for a more refined look, but I just love the visual appeal of the layers.
The Momofuku method requires a few extra tools in the kitchen, but once you have them on hand I truly believe this is one of the easiest ways to assemble a cake. However, this recipe is delicious no matter how it is assembled so feel free to bake it in rounds, cupcakes or however else you’re accustomed.
Tired of the same old traditional pumpkin pie? Pleasantly surprise your guests with this Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting and Pepita Brittle this Thanksgiving!
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ cup packed light-brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¼ cup light-brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ½ cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a quarter sheet pan (13x9-inch) with parchment paper, spray with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice.
- In a large bowl, whisk together, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, eggs, and pumpkin puree. Add dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.
- Pour batter into prepared baking sheet, using a spatula to spread evenly to edges. Bake until top is lightly browned and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
- In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.
- Beat in brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon until fully incorporated.
- Gradually add powdered sugar in small portions, scraping down the sides with each addition. Beat on medium speed until desired consistency is reached.
- Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Spread pepitas in a single layer in the center of the sheet and set aside.
- In a small saucepan bring granulated sugar and water to a boil over medium heat, swirling until a golden brown color is reached.
- When golden brown, immediately remove from heat, stir in butter until smooth and pour over pepitas.
- Allow to cool and harden completely before breaking into bite sized pieces.
- Gently run knife around edge of cake to loosen from sides of pan. Turn over onto work surface and peel away the parchment paper.
- Using a 6-inch cake ring cut out two full circles and two partial circles from your sheet cake.
- Place cake ring on serving platter and line with a 4-inch tall strip of acetate.
- Place a full circle of cake into the bottom of the cake ring and top with a thick layer of frosting. Scatter a handful of pepita brittle pieces on top of the frosting, making sure not to cover the entire surface area.
- Place the two partial circles into the cake ring, pushing up against opposite sides to create a gap down the middle. Tightly wedge the remaining cake scraps into the gap to create a full layer of cake. Top with a thick layer of frosting and an additional small handful of pepita brittle.
- Place the final full round on top of the cake and gently press down to even out layers. Top with a final thick layer of frosting and a thick layer of the remaining pepita brittle.
- Freeze cake for 30 minutes to an hour before carefully lifting cake ring off of cake and peeling away acetate.
- Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Slice with a sharp knife while still cold then allow slices to rest for 15-20 minutes at room temperature before serving.
6×3-inch Aluminum Cake Ring
4-inch Acetate Strips
Quarter Sheet Pan