cinnamon-caramel pumpkin cake w banana-rum filling

by hungryrabbit on November 11, 2011

Cinnamon-Caramel Pumpkin Cake w Creamy Banana-Rum Filling

Now that Halloween is behind us, we can enjoy pumpkins for their inner beauty and real purpose—consuming not carving.  Not everyone likes pumpkin, however. Ask a room full of people, “Who likes pumpkin pie?” and there will be a few enthusiasts longing for a taste and the majority responding as if you’ve just offered them a turnip cookie.

Outside of pie, most people do seem to like pumpkin—in cakes, muffins, quick breads, pancakes, soups, etc.  For many, the pumpkin pie to which they’ve been subjected has lacked flavor or the texture was mealy. I never had pumpkin pie as a kid, and until I met M, I was not a fan either. He gingerly guided me to add it to my list of American good eats.

Pumpkin has an earthy taste that envelopes the essence of Fall. It is also a fantastic blank slate to which you can add and combine other ingredients. Cinnamon takes the lead and other spices such as nutmeg, allspice], and ginger make up the chorus. I also found certain fruits to make a wonderful partner with pumpkin.

In this recipe, orange gives pumpkin a zippy freshness, while natural sugars in bananas bring out the sweet side. Combine all the above and you get a flavor profile that even the most finicky pumpkin eater will at least consider. Of course, I can’t make this cake without my latest obsession with caramel.

Cinnamon-Caramel Pumpkin Cake w Creamy Banana-Rum Filling

yield: one 6-inch cake


1-1/2 cups (7-1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup of pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup of Caramel syrup, recipe to follow
1 tablespoon dark rum
Creamy Banana-Rum Filling, recipe to follow
Caramel-Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe to follow
Pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted, for garnish


1. Set oven rack in middle position and preheat to 350℉. Butter two 6-by-2-inch round cake pans, dusted with flour and tap out excess, set aside.

2. Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and sugars in a large bowl. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkim puree, oils, eggs, caramel syrup, and rum. Pour into the flour mixture and stir until just combine.

4. Pour into the prepared baking pans and bake for 40-50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out of the center clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then invert cakes onto wire rack. Cool cakes completely, about 1 hour.

Caramel Syrup


2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water, plus 1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt


1. Combine sugar and 1/4 cup water in a stainless steel saucepan, stir until mixture feels like wet sand. Set pan over medium heat and cook until amber color, about 20 minutes. Brush down side of pan with wet pastry brush if necessary to prevent crystallization.

2. Remove pan from heat, slowly pour in one cup of water, caramel will sputter. Stir until the sputtering subsides, add salt and stir to combine. Pour in heat proof bowl and let cool completely.

Note: you will not need the entire syrup recipe for this cake. You might want to use it in the Candy Bar Cake

Creamy Banana-Rum Filling


2 large egg yolks
1/2 can evaporated milk (6 ounces)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar (1-3/4 ounces)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
1/8 teaspoon table salt
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon dark rum


1. Whisk yolks in medium saucepan; gradually whisk in evaporated milk. Add sugars, butter, and salt and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until sugars have dissolved.

2. Stir in bananas and continue to whisk until it comes to a boil, frothy, and slightly thickened, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer mixture to bowl, whisk in vanilla and rum. Cool until just warm, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cool or cold, about 2 hours.

Caramel-Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting


3/4 pound cream cheese, softened
6 tablespoons, (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1-1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange or lemon juice
2 teaspoons dark rum
3 tablespoons Caramel Syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream


1. In a standing mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until creamy, 2-3 minutes.

2. On low speed, add sugar and cinnamon; beat until just blended. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla, orange juice, rum and syrup and beat until blended.

3. Slowly drizzle in the cream until the mixture is emulsified. Once all the cream is incorporated,increase speed to medium-highand beat until frosting is fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Use the frosting immediately or cover and refrigerate.


1. Trim top off cakes horizontally to level off the surface. Slice each cake horizontally to make two even layers. Place one layer on the serving platter. Spread 1/3 Banana Filling over the top evenly. Place second cake layer on top, and spread another 1/3 of the filling over top. Repeat until you top with the fourth cake layer.

2. Cover the cake with Caramel-Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting. Decorated with toasted pumpkin seeds and serve.

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

thelittleloaf November 11, 2011 at 9:02 am

That banana rum filling looks amazing! And hear hear to pumpkin being used for brilliant baking, not just carving :-)

Elizabeth @Mango_Queen November 11, 2011 at 10:22 am

Oh my god! Your cakes are always incredible, but this one is just divine! Now I have another recipe idea for pumpkin, other than pie. And mashed bananas for a filling? Yummy! Thanks for sharing!

Valeria November 11, 2011 at 12:02 pm

wow, I am speechless really, I love every single ingredient and the presentation is just stunning!

Tina@flourtrader November 11, 2011 at 12:30 pm

You did bring a bunch of super flavors together here with wonderful results. The cake is fall flavors highlighted with a tropical icing, very creative. I have saved this one Ken-that picture as well as the ingredient list says winner to me. Have a great weekend!

Daydreamer Desserts November 11, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Love the combination of flavors in this cake, they truly embrace Fall. xo

Julia November 11, 2011 at 2:08 pm

It pains me to see people carve pumpkin instead of eating them. They are just sooooo good. Amazing cake, with an amazing flavor combo (pumpkin and rum, done and done!).

vianney November 11, 2011 at 3:36 pm

I spotted this on tastespotting, love, love, love. thanks!

Erika - The Teenage Taste November 12, 2011 at 8:32 am

I think I just decided what my birthday cake is going to be this year. I mean, pumpkin, cinnamon, and caramel?! It’s like the trifecta of yumminess!

Jamie November 12, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Another stunner, Ken, darling! I want! And what a production! I admire you! And so pretty! I love pumpkin and what I find fascinating is that it is so wonderful both savory and sweet. I love the pairing with caramel and banana! Beautiful!

Simone November 13, 2011 at 3:26 am

Look at those lovely layers! So pretty Ken. I’m a lover of all things pumpkin ever since I first cooked with it a couple of years ago. Pumpkin was not something very familiar here when growing up but thankfully that changed. I have yet to try pumpkin in a sweet dish!

Emma @ Poires au Chocolat November 13, 2011 at 6:58 am

How lovely – I really like the way you’ve arranged the pumpkin seeds around the sides. So many gorgeous flavours in here – all those spices, caramel, pumpkin. Yum.

Georgie November 13, 2011 at 9:59 am

Gorgeous! Gorgeous! Gorgeous!

Rosie @ Sweetapolita November 13, 2011 at 10:39 am

Oh my word, boy! This speaks, no yells, to me–those flavours are incredible, and the way you’ve put it all together is wonderful. Gorgeous cake and images, Ken. xo

Robin O. November 13, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Found you through a Sunday link via Ilva Beretta and I am soooo glad! Beautiful description and photos of what may be the best pumpkin cake ever. Inspired, that’s what I say :-)

SweetSugarBelle November 14, 2011 at 9:22 am

You are so stinkin’ talented on so many levels! I keep telling Gail, one day, I will be having dinner with y’all in NYC. I’ve already got you pinned to bring the cake =)

This is earthy and beautiful, and I love how you used pumpkin seeds as a garnish and decoration. Simply beautiful!

MikeVFMK November 14, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Ken, this is one great looking cake! Really stunning. And the flavours are so bloody good. Beautiful pictures too! Love this post.

Jen Laceda November 14, 2011 at 11:38 pm

Decadent!!!! I want a slice now!

Brian @ A Thought For Food November 15, 2011 at 4:55 pm

I’ve had pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie… but NEVER pumpkin cake! I love it, Ken! Stunning!

Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction November 15, 2011 at 10:36 pm

Wow… Send a slice of that cake my way!! Sounds absolutely divine!

Julie @BananasForBourbon November 16, 2011 at 7:29 pm

I don’t do this often…but I just found your website, took one look at this cake recipe, and immediately added you to my RSS feed. It sounds absolutely incredible!

Karla November 22, 2011 at 1:59 pm

So I ended up making this cake this past weekend. I followed the recipe to the letter, and it came out absolutely perfect. Huge success and many happy bellies! Hands down this is the best cake recipe I’ve ever read. Thanks so much!

hungryrabbit November 22, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Thanks Karla, comments like yours make me happy happy. Glad it was a success for you, Happy Thanksgiving.

MarthaO December 25, 2011 at 10:50 pm

I made this sans rum (my family doesn’t do alcohol in any form) and it was simply delicious. Of course, I messed up the frosting so it looked…not right, but it tasted just grand. I mean, how can something with cream cheese, butter, AND cream in it taste bad? I also thought the pepitas was a stroke of genius.

Katherine @ eggton May 15, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Ken, this is gorgeous. The decorations with the pumpkin seeds make me think of art deco architecture or something. I just love it.

Checking back soon to see what else you’re up to :)


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