Blue Ribbon Pumpkin Cake

A Pumpkin Cake Gussied Up for a Party!

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Francine Bryson has a way with excess. My kinda gal. This cake features pumpkin, of course, but look at the ingredients: Oreos, Greek yogurt, cream cheese, eggnog, chocolate! Yes, this is a big cake! Big on the plate and big on the palate. Perfect for a fall or winter birthday day. Check out her Chocolate Gravy and her Turtle Cake Roll, all from her new book Blue Ribbon Baking from a Redneck Kitchen. And don’t miss our chat with her; she’s like your best friend in the kitchen.

Reprinted from Blue Ribbon Baking from a Redneck Kitchen. Copyright (c) 2014 by Francine Bryson. Photographs copyright (c) 2014 by Ben Fink. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC

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This is definitely not your average pumpkin cake, but it is one of the best I’ve got. I came up with this one playing around in the kitchen before a pumpkin cook-off, and, would you believe, it won that big old blue ribbon. It’s different—with a whole lot of flavors and textures—but they’re all balanced. In each slice, you get the chocolate from the Oreos on top, the crunch of the mixed nuts, and then the smoothness of the cake. The mixed party nuts sound a little bit crazy, but, I promise, they work—they give every bite just a bit of a distinct flavor from the last one. Greek yogurt makes a real rich batter, and the lemon-flavored kind is just so good with the pumpkin.

Blue Ribbon Pumpkin Cake
Makes: Makes one 9-inch layer cake
cookie crunch:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pans
  • 1 (14-ounce) package Oreo cookies
  • 1 (8- to 10-ounce) can salted mixed nuts
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1¹⁄₂ cups granulated sugar
  • ³⁄₄ cup (1¹⁄₂ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups pure pumpkin puree (about 1¹⁄₂ 15-ounce cans)
  • 2³⁄₄ cups self-rising flour (I use White Lily)
  • ¹⁄₂ cup lemon-flavored or plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs frosting
  • 6 (8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3¹⁄₂ cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
chocolate topping:
  • ¹⁄₂ cup eggnog
  • 1¹⁄₄ cups chopped dark chocolate
  1. Make the cookie crunch: Butter four 9-inch cake pans.
  2. Using a food processor, pulse the Oreos until finely ground. Transfer to a medium bowl. Pulse the nuts until finely chopped. Add to the Oreo crumbs along with the brown sugar and mix well. Pour in the butter and mix until fully incorporated. Divide the crunch topping mixture among the cake pans, pressing onto the bottom of each and spreading evenly.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Start the cake: Using an electric mixer, beat the granulated sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently. Add the pumpkin, flour, yogurt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla extract and mix until just blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition, and mix until just blended.
  4. Divide the batter equally over the cookie crunch in each of the cake pans, smoothing the top of the batter evenly. Bake until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the pans on wire racks While the cakes are cooling, make the frosting: Using an electric mixer, whip the cream cheese and butter until very smooth and creamy. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the confectioner’s sugar and mix until smooth. Add the vanilla extract and mix well.
  6. When the cakes are completely cool, unmold them. Frost the Oreo side (top) of each layer and then stack them, cake side down, to put the cake together. Spread the remaining frosting on the top and sides.
  7. Refrigerate the cake or keep it in a cool place so that the frosting doesn’t melt.
  8. Before serving, prepare the chocolate topping: In a saucepan, bring the eggnog just to a simmer and then add the chocolate. Remove from the heat and stir until the chocolate has fully melted. Drizzle over the cake and let set before serving.


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