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Pumpkin Spice Latte Cake with Cinnamon Frosting

Pumpkin Spice Latte season is in full swing right now. The drink – which is available at many coffee shops all across the country, not just at Starbucks – manages to put all of our favorite fall flavors, along with a bit of coffee, into one single cup. I like the way that the flavor of coffee blends with traditional pumpkin pie spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. These spices all seem to enhance the natural richness of coffee, as well as evoking the feeling of fall. This Pumpkin Spice Latte Cake with Cinnamon Frosting is inspired by the coffee drink of the same name.

This cake starts with one pumpkin cake batter, a batter that not only has plenty of pumpkin in it, but is well-seasoned with pumpkin pie spice. The batter is divided in half and coffee is added to one portion of it, then the two batters are swirled together and baked so that you get a cake with plenty of pumpkin spice and coffee spice flavors in every slice. The cake tastes like the coffee drink in a solid form, with flavors that stand out, yet are surprisingly well-balanced. The cake is moist and tender – and it will remain moist for several days after baking if stored in an airtight container. I finished the cake off with a thin layer of cinnamon frosting, which pairs well with both the coffee and pumpkin batters.

It is best to use a concentrated coffee in this recipe. If you happen to have coffee extract that will work well, but I generally use a Starbucks Via or a teaspoon of instant espresso powder dissolved in a bit of warm water. You don’t want to change the texture of the cake batter, but you do need to be able to easily incorporate the coffee flavoring.

This is a big and relatively flat cake baked in a 9×13-inch pan. I like the simplicity and quick baking time of a larger cake like this one. That said, the batter can easily be divided into two 8-inch pans if you are looking for a layer cake that is a bit more impressive at first glance. If you do end up going with a layer cake, you are going to need a quadruple batch of frosting to cover the whole thing, so keep that in mind in your planning! No matter which shape you end up making, this is a delicious dessert option that is sure to please everyone who is a fan of the PSL this season – and it will please just about everyone else, too.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cake

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cake with Cinnamon Frosting
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tsp water
1 tsp instant espresso or 1 packet Starbucks Via

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugars, egg, pumpkin puree, vegetable oil and vanilla extract until very smooth. Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the buttermilk. Stir in remaining flour mixture, mixing just until no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
In a small bowl, combine water and instant espresso or Starbucks Via and stir to dissolve. Add in 1 cup of pumpkin cake batter and stir until batter and coffee are well-combined.
Place dollops of pumpkin batter around your prepared pan, intermixed with dollops of coffee batter. Use a butter knife or spatula to swirl the two batters together.
Bake for 20-23 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of cake comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs attached.
Allow cake to cool completely before icing. Spreading icing on in a thin, even layer.

Serves 16-20

Cinnamon Frosting
1/3 cup butter, room temperature
2 tbsp brewed coffee, cold
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2-2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix together at high speed. Gradually blend in the confectioners’ sugar until the frosting is soft and spreadable.