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John Whaite’s pumpkin spice latte cake
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TV chef and author John Whaite bakes this incredible pumpkin spice latte cake – the ultimate grown-up Halloween treat!
Shop the ingredients here
Serves: 14 - 16
450g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground or freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground cloves
1 tsp fine salt
120g baking spread
100g sunflower oil, plus a little for greasing
500g caster sugar
425g can pumpkin purée
4 British Blacktail Free Range Large Eggs, beaten
For the coffee syrup
75g dark brown muscovado sugar
2 tsp instant espresso powder or coffee granules
For the cream cheese buttercream
340g unsalted butter, softened and at room temperature
340g icing sugar, sifted and fridge cold
2 x 340g tubs full fat soft cheese, fridge cold
Cooks’ Ingredients Orange Perfect Colouring Gel
150g Cooks’ Ingredients White Fondant Icing
Cooks’ Ingredients Green Perfect Colouring Gel
Cocoa powder, for dusting
Gold leaf, optional
Pinch of ground cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Grease and line the bases of 3 x 20cm loose-bottomed cake tins with baking parchment.
2. For the cake batter, sift the flour into a large mixing bowl, then add bicarbonate of soda, the spices and salt. Whisk to combine. Put the baking spread, oil and sugar into the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment – though this can be done with a handheld electric mixer. Beat until very pale and fluffy. Mix the pumpkin purée into the creamed mixture, then add milk and eggs and beat them in – the mixture will probably curdle at this point, but don’t worry.
3. Add the dry ingredients and beat in until you have a smooth cake batter. Divide the cake batter as evenly as possible between the prepared cake tins, spread flat with a spatula or the back of a spoon, then bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean.
4. While the cakes bake, make the syrup. Put 75ml water, the sugar and the espresso powder or coffee granules into a saucepan and stir to dissolve. Bring to a boil, boil for one minute, then remove from the heat.
5. To make the fondant pumpkins, use the orange colouring gel colour to most of the fondant to two different shades of orange, one muted, one brighter. Take small portions – in a variety of sizes – and roll into balls. Use a butter knife or the back of a knife to score grooves vertically down the sides of the balls to shape like a pumpkin. Indent the top of each one with a small paintbrush or cocktail stick then press down with a finger to flatten the pumpkin shape just a little. Dye the rest of the fondant a dark green and shape into stalks, and add to the pumpkins. Use a pastry brush to dust the pumpkins lightly with cocoa powder to give a realistic effect.
6. When the cakes are still warm, paint the tops with the coffee syrup, then allow to cool completely in the tins.
7. For the buttercream, beat the butter and icing sugar together. Start at a low speed, then turn the speed up and beat for at least 5 minutes, until very pale and fluffy. The biggest mistake people make when making buttercream is to simply not beat the butter and sugar for long enough. Add the cream cheese and beat just until evenly mixed.
8. To assemble the cake, place one layer of cake onto a cake plate or 20cm cake board, on top of a turntable if you have one. Spread over a layer of buttercream using a small palette knife. Top with a second layer of cake, then repeat until all 3 layers of cake are stacked. Spread some of the remaining buttercream into the gaps between the stacked layers, then spread a very thin layer over the entire cake. This is called the crumb coat - chill for 5-10 minutes to firm the cake up.
9. Once the cake has chilled, spread the remaining buttercream over the cake using a larger palette knife to make it as neat as possible. Use the palette knife to create ridges in the sides of the buttercream – either vertically in neat rows, or from the bottom of the cake to the top in one large spiral (a turntable will make this easier).
10. Cluster the fondant pumpkins in the centre of the cake like a pumpkin patch, then decorate the pumpkins with a little gold leaf. Scatter coffee beans and a pinch of cinnamon around the edge of the cake to serve.
Cream cheese frosting gets runny if the kitchen is too hot. If this happens, keep popping the cake in the freezer for 10-minute bursts as you apply the buttercream and put the buttercream in the fridge. Don’t add more sugar to the buttercream, it will make it runnier because sugar absorbs moisture and turns to a syrup.
Typical values per serving:
V Per serving (for 14)
This recipe was first published in September 2021.
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