When it gets chilly outside and cozy inside, it's officially pumpkin season! With layers of spiced pumpkin cake, smooth dulce de leche, and cinnamon cream cheese frosting, this Pumpkin Dulce de Leche Cake will be a seasonal favorite!
I did not take the normal amount of time I usually take in decoration, but I did on flavor. To start, I made a few cans of homemade dulce de leche. I use the crockpot method which is so easy and results in the most decadent dulce de leche ever. For the cake, I made a simple pumpkin spice cake. Pumpkin adds such wonderful moisture to cakes and breads, that it has become one of my favorite ingredients. For the frosting, I made a light and airy cream cheese buttercream. I used it in the layers and around the cake, then sprinkled it with a bit more pumpkin spice. The combination was like fall exploded in your mouth! This has become one of our favorite holiday recipes.
Watch our Pumpkin Layer Cake video below!
Inspired by the Milk Bar Pumpkin Dulce de Leche Cake, this layered cake is easy to make at home and doesn't require a trip to New York to get!
WHY WE LOVE THIS PUMPKIN DULCE DE LECHE CAKE
- Warm Fall Flavors- Between the warm spices in the pumpkin layer, pumpkin spice dulce de leche, and cinnamon cream cheese frosting, this cake is homey and oh so comforting.
- Easy to decorate! The flavors stand out so the decoration doesn't have to! Make a naked cake like I did in the original photos or a swirled frosting effect, it is easy to frost and perfect for your Thanksgiving table.
- Easily made into pumpkin cupcakes! Turn this recipe into cupcakes by putting the pumpkin batter into muffin liners and reducing the baking time to 17-20 minutes. Fill the cupcakes with the dulce de leche then top with the frosting. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon on the top of each cupcake for extra fun!
INGREDIENTS TO MAKE THIS PUMPKIN DESSERT
Pumpkin Cake Recipe
- Granulated sugar
- Vegetable oil
- Vanilla extract
- Pure pumpkin puree
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Ground cinnamon
- Pumpkin pie spice
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
- Cream cheese, softened
- Unsalted butter, room temperature
- Powdered sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Dulce de leche
- Pumpkin pie spice
HOW TO MAKE EASY HOMEMADE DULCE DE LECHE
Dulce de leche which is Spanish for "sweet of milk," is a caramel-like sauce that is very popular in Latin American desserts. It has a smooth, thick consistency and toffee-like flavor. Unlike caramel sauce, which is made by melting and browning granulated sugar and then adding cream and butter, dulce de leche is made by slowly cooking milk and sugar together until it’s thickened and golden. Since sweetened condensed milk already contains the sugar and milk, it is the main ingredient now days to create this delicious caramel sauce.
I have made dulce de leche many times and have found that the crock pot method is by far the easiest. Simply remove the paper wrapper on the can of sweetened condensed milk and place it in your crockpot. Fill the pot with water, about 1 over the can. Cover the crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours. Once done, carefully remove the can and allow to cool. Once cooled, open the can and be amazing at the deep caramel shade and delicious flavor. Transfer into an airtight container or jar and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. The unopened can of dulce de leche will stay good for up to 3 months!
Since you're filling up your crock pot, go ahead and make a few cans! Dulce de leche is a wonderful holiday gift and ingredient! Make a dulce de leche pumpkin pie, add it to your pumpkin cheesecake, or just enjoy it with a spoon or some apple slices!
Alternatively, you can cook the sweetened condensed milk on the stove top in a small pan, stirring constantly, until it thickens and becomes golden in color.
HOW TO MAKE THIS PUMPKIN DULCE DE LECHE CAKE
With relatively simple ingredients and instructions, you'll have this comforting and delicious cake in no time!
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray three 8 inch round pans or two 9 inch round pans with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and soda, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice; set flour mixture aside.
- In the bowl of your mixer, beat oil, sugar, and vanilla until it is fully incorporated.
- Add pumpkin puree and mix to combine.
- Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.
- Gradually add flour to the pumpkin mixer, mixing on low and until just combined.
- Evenly distribute batter into pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a knife is inserted and comes out clean, depending the your oven and the size of the pans.
- Allow cakes to cool completely before frosting.
- To make the frosting beat together cream cheese, butter, vanilla and salt.
- Slowly add in powdered sugar then increase mixer speed to high and beat for 4-5 minutes.
- To assemble the cake, spread about ⅓ cup of dulce de leche filling onto first layer using an offset spatula, then top with about 1 cup of frosting.
- Add next cake layer and repeat process.
- Frost the outside of the cake with the frosting, then add dollops of dulce de leche around the cake and smooth into the frosting.
SUBSTITUTIONS, ADDITIONS, AND TIPS
- If you're short on time, use a yellow boxed cake mix and add a cup of pumpkin puree.
- Use store bought dulce de leche. You can typically find this next to the sweetened condensed milk or in the gourmet section.
- Make it into a bundt cake! Pour the pumpkin mixture into a well greased 12-cup bundt cake pan and cook for 60-70 minutes. Top with dulce de leche once cooled.
- Add nuts! Top the cake with pepitas (pumpkin seeds), walnuts, or pecans.
- Make this cake in stages. Start by making the dulce de leche a few days ahead of time. Make the cake layers and wrap cooled cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze for up to 2 days. The frosting can be made and refrigerated in an airtight container 2 days in advance.
- Store finished/frosted cake in the fridge for up to 3 days.
PUMPKIN DULCE DE LECHE CAKE RECIPE FAQs
Can I use pumpkin pie filling for this recipe?
No, this recipe works with canned pumpkin. Pumpkin pie filling has sugar and spices added into it so the end result will be a lot sweeter and off on consistency.
Can I make this recipe into cupcakes?
Yes, simply adjust the baking time to around 17-20 minutes. Fill the cupcakes with the dulche de leche cake filling then top with the cream cheese frosting!
Check out the original photos from when this recipe was created in 2015!
MORE DELICIOUS PUMPKIN DESSERTS WE THINK YOU'LL ENJOY
With layers of spiced pumpkin cake, smooth dulce de leche, and cinnamon cream cheese frosting, this cake will become a seasonal favorite!
- 8 oz cream cheese room temperature
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup dulce de leche
- ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray three 8x8 inch square pans or two 9 inch square pans with nonstick cooking spray.
In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and soda, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice.
In the bowl of your mixer, beat oil, sugar, and vanilla until it is fully incorporated.
Add pumpkin puree and mix to combine.
Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.
Gradually add flour to the pumpkin mixer, mixing on low and until just combined.
Evenly distribute batter into pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a knife is inserted and comes out clean, depending the your oven and the size of the pans.
Allow cakes to cool completely before frosting.
To make the frosting beat together cream cheese, butter, vanilla and salt.
Slowly add in powdered sugar then increase mixer speed to high and beat for 4-5 minutes.
To assemble the cake, spread about ⅓ cup of dulce de leche onto first layer, then top with about 1 cup of frosting.
Add next layer and repeat process.
For the final layer, spoon remaining frosting into a a pastry bag fitted with a large tip.
Pipe frosting and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice.