praline pumpkin cake


This is your new Thanksgiving dessert. You may not know it yet, but it is. Just try it out, just this once, you’ve got time. Two day to Thanksgiving? That’s plenty of time. Get the ingredients tonight, make the cake and whipped cream tomorrow, and assemble the day of. Like I said, plenty of time…

I made this for the first time on the last Thanksgiving I spent at home – three years ago. The following year, making something else wasn’t even an option, I think it was around September when requests for the cake started rolling in. When I mentioned that I might “try something new” last year, I was told that whatever I did, I was still required to make this cake. Required. Can you believe it? The nerve!

Then again, who could blame them?

This year, when I did try something new ( recipe coming soon ), I was sure to make this cake the very same day. Of course that meant we had two desserts for our pre-Thanksgiving meal, but who says that’s a bad thing?

I brought my boss a piece of this cake, I stuck it in the fridge with his name on it, and when I walked by at 7:30 am and he was devouring it, I was sure to make him feel the appropriate amount of shame. “Cake for breakfast?!? REALLY?!?” He confessed he couldn’t help himself. He just wanted to try “a bite”, but it was the best cake he’d ever eaten. Ever. Am I hyping it up too much? I don’t want you to be let down, but I do want you to be motivated enough to try it. Like, now.

This cake is the perfect alternative for those who aren’t into pie, or those who are into pie, but are also into cake. It just different enough from your standard pumpkin pie to be “new”, but still classic enough to not incite a Thanksgiving Day riot. Delicious layers of pumpkin cake, with praline pecan glazed tops, adorned with freshly-whipped cream. Drooling yet?

praline pumpkin cake

Yield: 1 2-layer Cake


    For the Cake
  • · 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • · 1/3 cup butter
  • · 3 tablespoons whipping cream
  • · 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • · 4 large eggs
  • · 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • · 1 cup vegetable oil
  • · 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
  • · ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • · 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • · 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • · 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • ( OR 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp ginger, ¼ tsp nutmeg, pinch ( ? tsp) cloves or allspice)
  • · 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • · 1 teaspoon salt
  • Whipped topping:
  • · 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • · 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • · 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. 1 Cook first 3 ingredients in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour into 2 greased 9-inch round cake pans; sprinkle evenly with ½ cup pecans. Cool.
  2. 2 Beat eggs, sugar, and oil at medium speed with an electric mixer. Add pumpkin and vanilla; beat well.
  3. 3 Combine flour and next 4 ingredients; add to pumpkin mixture, beating until blended. Spoon batter evenly into prepared pans, starting first with the edges, and then filling the center. If you try to pour it all into the center, your praline topping will get pushed to the edge and boil over. (For this reason, it is a good idea to place your cake pans on a sheet pan, and also put a layer of foil on the rack underneath, just in case there is any spillage).
  4. 4 Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake layers in pans on wire racks 5 minutes; remove from pans, and continue to cool on wire racks.
  5. 5 Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate, praline side up; spread evenly with Whipped cream. Top with remaining layer, praline side up, and spread with remaining whipped cream. Sprinkle cake with chopped pecans (or, if my praline boils over, I like to break up the bits and sprinkle those on top). Store in refrigerator.


- Line the bottoms of the cake pans with parchment, to ensure most of your praline remains on the cake (and not glued to the pans)

- Bake both cake pans on a sheet pan, and put foil on the rack below to catch any praline spillover.

- If you have spillover, keep the praline pieces and sprinkle them on top for a tasty decoration.

- You can make both items the day before, and store the cake layers, wrapped, at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Store the whipped cream in the fridge (obviously) and “frost” the cake immediately before serving. This will avoid taking up valuable refrigerator space on your special holiday.

- Line the bottoms of the cake pans with parchment, to ensure most of your praline remains on the cake (and not glued to the pans)

- The cake ends up so huge, I’m often tempted to make it into four, thinner layers instead of 2 giant layers... I haven’t done it yet, but if you do, let me know how it goes