Pumpkin Sugar Cookie Cake – pumpkin cake layers, ermine frosting (boiled milk frosting, pumpkin sugar cookie layers, and pumpkin buttercream.
New Week, New Recipe
Happy Monday, friends! I’m especially excited for today’s recipe because I skipped last week’s new Monday recipe due to extra recipe testing. It honestly felt strange not having a new recipe for you. I love this tradition of sharing new recipes every Monday. Kinda makes Monday less “Monday,” ya know? 😉
The inspiration for my Pumpkin Sugar Cookie Cake comes from my Santa’s Milk and Cookie Cake. I created the Milk and Cookies Cake for an appearance on Hallmark Home and Family, and it quickly became one of my favorite cakes. I love how well the soft sugar cookie layers paired with the boiled milk frosting, vanilla cake layers and vanilla buttercream. Eating the Santa’s Milk and Cookie Cake was like taking a bite of sugar cookies and milk at Christmastime.
Pumpkin Sugar Cookie Cake
For my new version of this sugar cookie cake, I decided to use pumpkin as the base. Just perfect for this time of year!
For the cake layers, I used my tried and true pumpkin cake layers you’ve seen here before. Some of my favorite cakes with the pumpkin layers include:
You really can’t go wrong with these pumpkin cake layers. They turn out moist and fluffy every time!
Boiled Milk Frosting (Ermine Frosting)
For the “milk” component of our sugar cookie and milk cake, I’ve used a boiled milk frosting, also known as Ermine frosting. I love this buttercream because it reminds me of a Swiss Meringue Buttercream with its silky-smooth texture and less sweet flavor.
Tip: for the boiled milk frosting, be sure not to overcook the flour and milk mixture at the beginning (see instructions below). This should get thick but you don’t want to cook it before adding the remaining milk, otherwise you’ll get clumps.
Pumpkin Sugar Cookies
Just like my Santa’s Milk and Cookie Cake, we’ll be making two giant sugar cookies to go in this cake. The recipe is very similar to the one I use in the original recipe, except that I’ve added pumpkin puree and spices.
Tip: to ensure an easy cut when you slice the cake, don’t over bake the cookie layers. We want these to be soft and chewy.
The pumpkin buttercream might be my favorite element of this cake. Can you believe I’ve never made a pumpkin buttercream before? I clearly haven’t been living my best life, because this is buttercream required in one’s optimal living 😉
But seriously… it’s dang good!
To assemble this cake, make sure the cake layers and sugar cookie layers are chilled prior to stacking. Working with chilled layers makes it easier to handle as you stack and decorate.
This quick video will also give you a good idea of how to stack this cake.
I obviously knew what all the layers looked like before I stacked this cake, but when I cut into it, I was truly blown away. I love how these colors and textures look together!
Make Ahead Tips
- All of the elements of this cake can be made ahead of time.
- For the cake layers and cookie layers, let them cool completely and then wrap with plastic wrap. Freeze the layers until about 30 to 60 minutes before you’re ready to use.
- For the buttercreams, once you’ve made the buttercream, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use. Bring back to room temperature before using.
- You can even stack and decorate the entire cake ahead of time. Make sure to check out this post for more tips on how to do that.
The acrylic disks, spatulas and scraper can be found over on my shop page: Shop.CakebyCourtney.com.
For the ceramics tool I used for the design, CLICK HERE.
FOR THE PUMPKIN CAKE
- 1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup (165 g) light brown sugar, packed
- 5 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup (218 g) vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 tsp (6.3 g) vanilla
- 2 cups (450 g) pumpkin puree
- 3 cups (360 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tbsp (15 g) baking powder
- 3 tsp (7.8 g) ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp (3 g) ground ginger
- 1 tsp (2.64 g) nutmeg
- 1 tsp (6 g) salt
FOR THE BOILED MILK FROSTING
- 1/4 cup (30 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp (5.6 g) salt
- 2 cups (480 g) whole milk
- 2 cups (452 g) unsalted butter
- 2 cups (400 g) sugar, measure and then pulse in a blender or food processor to make even finer in consistency.
- 1 tsp (4.2 g) vanilla extract
FOR THE PUMPKIN SUGAR COOKIE
- 1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- 1 large eggs
- 1/4 cup (31 g) pumpkin puree
- 1/2 tsp (2 g) vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups (180 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp (2 g) baking powder
- 1 tsp (3.8 g) pumpkin pie spice, or 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp nutmeg, ⅛ cloves, ⅛ tsp ginger
- ¼ tsp salt
FOR THE PUMPKIN BUTTERCREAM
- 2 cups (452 g) unsalted butter, chilled (I take the butter out of the fridge 30 minutes before I make my frosting)
- 6 cups (750 g) powdered sugar, measured and then sifted
- 1 tsp (4.2 g) vanilla extract
- 5 tbsp pumpkin puree
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice, or 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp nutmeg, ⅛ cloves, ⅛ tsp ginger
- 3 tbsp (43.3 g) heavy whipping cream
- *This buttercream recipe makes enough to fill and cover your cake. If you want to add additional piping, you’ll want to make an extra ½ batch.
FOR THE PUMPKIN CAKE
Preheat 350 degrees F. Spray three 8-inch or four 6-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper rounds. Spray again and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and eggs together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the oil and vanilla and beat on medium until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the pumpkin filling and mix until combined, about another 30 seconds.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, and salt, and with the mixer at the lowest speed, gradually add to the pumpkin/egg mixture.
Evenly distribute batter into the prepared pans, smooth with a small offset palette knife and place in the center of the middle rack of the oven, about 2 inches apart. Bake until a knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. (Mine took 23).
Let pans cool on a wire rack 10 minutes, and then invert cakes onto rack and cool them completely.
FOR THE BOILED MILK FROSTING
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the flour and ½ cup of the milk until smooth.
Set over medium heat and let cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until slightly hot, stirring frequently.
Whisk in remaining milk and salt. Whisk constantly until the mixture has thickened to the consistency of unset pudding (this can take up to 10 minutes).
Remove from heat and pour the mixture into a shallow dish. Cover the surface of the mixture with plastic wrap (so it’s touching the surface of the mixture. Refrigerate until chilled, at least an hour.
When cool, the mixture will be thick like custard. If a film formed on top of the mixture, remove it from the bowl.
In a large bowl (or a bowl of a stand mixer) beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add vanilla and mix well. Beat in cooled flour mixture one tablespoon at a time on medium-high speed. When all the flour mixture is added, beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes.
Rub a little frosting between your fingers. If the sugar granules remain, beat for 4 more minutes, or until granules cannot be detected with fingers.
FOR THE PUMPKIN SUGAR COOKIES
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Pre two 8-inch round baking pans with nonstick spray (or three 6-inch if you’re doing 6-inch cake layers), parchment paper and spray again. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Add the eggs, pumpkin puree, and vanilla. Beat until blended. Don’t worry if it looks curdled. It will come back together once you add the flour.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice (or spices to create pumpkin pie spice). Whisk to combine. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until just incorporated.
Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Measure out 10 ounces of dough for each of the two 8-inch cake pans. Using your hands, push the dough out to the edge of the pan (doesn’t need to be touching, just try to create an even circle).
Bake the two large cookies for 7 to 8 minutes. When you take the cookies out, they shouldn’t be light in color, barely golden brown. We want the cookie to come out still light in color so it’s nice and soft in the cake. Cool completely before frosting.
FOR THE BUTTERCREAM
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter for about 2 minutes. This will soften the butter without it having to be warm.
With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the sifted powdered sugar, one cup at a time, mixing a little in between each addition.
With mixer on medium speed, add pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, whipping cream, vanilla and salt.
Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and beat for an additional 5 to 7 minutes. The frosting will become lighter in color and texture.
Before spreading on your cake, spend a couple minutes mixing the buttercream by hand with a wooden spoon to push out the air pockets.
Place the first cake layer on your cake board, and spread about ¾ cup of the boiled milk frosting on top, followed by one of the cookie layers.
Evenly spread 1 cup of the pumpkin buttercream on the cookie layer. Top with another pumpkin cake layer and repeat with boiled milk frosting, cookie, pumpkin buttercream and then the final cake layer (see video above).
Cover the cake with a thin layer of the boiled milk frosting and chill for 10 to 15 minutes in the freezer. This crumb coat will set the crumbs in place.
Frost the cake with the remaining pumpkin buttercream.