Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Layer Cake

  • Serves: Makes three 8- or 9- x 2-inch rounds, 1/2 sheet cake (13 x 18-inches) or 36 to 48 cupcakes
  • Baking Temp (degrees F): 350
  • Views: 14168
  • Comments: 11

Variation: Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake

This fragrant, flavorful and moist Pumpkin Layer Cake Recipe is so incredible, especially with added chocolate chips. In this step-by-step tutorial I show you how to add pumpkin puree to a cake recipe, and how to add in chocolate chips without overmixing the batter. I also include my tips on how to get equally sized cake layers. This recipe makes a tall cake, so make sure you cut smaller pieces than usual. I decided to frost in between the layers and just the top of the cake. If you do, follow Tami's frosting recipe at the end of this recipe which makes the perfect amount.


I first mix the main cake batter, and then add in the pumpkin puree. The last step, I fold in the chocolate chips. The purpose is to build the cake's structure using the Creaming Method of Mixing without the interference of a more watery pumpkin puree. This helps the cake not collapse or not sink in the middle when baked. Folding in the chocolate chips in the last mixing step helps to prevent overmixing or creating too much gluten now that I have added in a more watery substance - the pumpkin puree to the wheat-based structure - because folding is a gentler mixing method than beating them in with a mixer. As a result, the cake has a great structure, or is not mushy in the middle and dips - so often found when purees are added to cakes such as these, and is tender.

1 recipe Tami's or Perfect Buttercream (6 cups recipe), add in 1 tablespoon lemon zest

3 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour; spoon into measuring cup and level to rim
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt

3 2/3 cups (1 29-ounce can) solid pack pumpkin puree; not pumpkin pie filling

1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla

2 cups (1 12-ounce bag) semisweet chocolate chips, optional or craisins (dried cranberries) or a combination

1. Position the oven racks in the lower and upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Spray three 8- or 9-inch, preferably light colored, heavy NOT nonstick pans with nonstick cooking oil. Line each greased baking pan with a greased piece of parchment paper.
(If you use dark, nonstick baking pans or ovenproof, Pyrex glass pans, keep the oven heat at 325 degrees F, but the recipe will not bake as well in these types of pans; it will result in crusty, dark edges. Use cake strips to help prevent this.)
SARAH SAYS: For this tutorial, I used three 8- x 2-inch round cake pans.

SARAH SAYS: Here's how you can line each greased baking pan with a greased piece of parchment paper:
Place one pan on top of a piece of parchment paper and trace around it with a pencil. The lead is nontoxic.
Cut out the round of parchment paper following the pencil marks as a guide.

Spray the baking pan with nonstick cooking oil.

Place the parchment round in the bottom of the pan.

Spray the top of the parchment round with nonstick cooking oil.

Repeat the process with the other two pans. Set the three pans aside.

3. In a large bowl sift together the measured flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt. Stir all the ingredients together. Set aside.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on low until softened. (If the butter is cold, first cut it into large pieces, and it will warm quickly from the beaters - taking about 60 seconds).

4. Add the sugar in a steady stream at the side of the bowl with the mixer on low.

After adding the sugar, stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a large rubber spatula.

Turn on the mixer to medium, and beat the butter and sugar until well combined and aerated.

5. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time and beat for 20 seconds after each addition.

After the eggs have been added, stop the mixer and scrape the bowl.

Then increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the mixture for 2 minutes. (If the eggs are cold, the batter will curdle slightly. It's ok. It will come together as the batter warms from the beaters. ) Set the kitchen timer to help you keep track of the time. The mixture will become fluffy and aerated.

5. Add the sour cream and vanilla and beat on low until thoroughly combined

Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the mixer bowl.

6. Add the flour mixture slowly at the side of the bowl, with the mixer on low.
Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the mixer bowl.

7. Add the pumpkin puree in batches with the mixer on low and mix until combined. Do NOT overmix.

8. Unclamp the mixer bowl. With a large rubber spatula, fold the batter to incorporate any stray flour or pumpkin puree not incorporated into the batter.
SARAH SAYS: I found that I had to do this step.

9. Add the chocolate chips and fold them into the batter.
SARAH SAYS: My chocolate chips have fat bloom (note their white dusty coating) due to warm storage. But, they are still fine to bake with.

10. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Smooth the tops.
SARAH SAYS: I weigh the batter in each pan to make sure I am accurate. First place the pan on the scale and zero it out.
Then place the batter in it so the pan os half full, and write down its weight. Repeat with the other two pans.
Zero out the scale. Weigh each pan with batter, zeroing out the scale before weighing each one.
Adjust the batter between the three pans so they are equal in weight.

9. Bake the cakes for about 50 minutes. If you insert a toothpick in the middle and remove, it should have a few moist crumbs attached, but not batter.
1/2 sheet cake (13 x 18-inches); bake 45 minutes
36 to 48 cupcakes; bake 25 to 30 minutes

10. Take the cakes immediately from the oven to a wire cake rack and let sit for 20 minutes and then unmold onto wire cake racks (set your timer to keep track of the time) - the cake is fragile when warm and will crack easily if you unmold it before the time is up.

Allow to cool completely before assembling.

Slice cake into pieces and serve.

Store cake at room temperature if frosted with Tami's Buttercream. Store frosted cake in refrigerator if the room is humid.
Store unfrosted layers, well wrapped, at room temperature, unless the room is humid; then store in refrigerator.
Layers can be stored in the freezer for up to a month or more. Thaw in refrigerator.

TAMI'S OR PERFECT BUTTERCREAM - use if frosting in between the layers and top of cake, only
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar (more if needed)
2 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream or milk (more if needed)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon peel

Follow directions for mixing.

Replace 3 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons (15 oz) unbleached all purpose flour WITH:
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour; spoon into dry measuring cup and level to top
1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder, preferably natural; spoon into dry measuring cup and level to top
NOTE: I prefer to use Natural cocoa powder, but you can use Dutch-processed or alkalized

Step #2: In a large bowl sift together the measured flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Suggested Frostings:
Chocolate Fudge Buttercream Ganache Dark, rich and spreads beautifully
Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting Can pipe with this frosting
Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream Tutorial The caramel flavor is divine!

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