The Country Cook: Pumpkin Layer Cake (a.k.a. Magic Pumpkin Cake)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Pumpkin Layer Cake (a.k.a. Magic Pumpkin Cake)

I don't know about you but I'm ready for fall. Well, maybe not the shorter days that come with fall. I am a daytime, warm, sunshine-loving kinda gal. But I'm definitely ready for fall flavors. I love those fall smells of apples, cinnamon and clove (and of course, pumpkin). If you hang out on Pinterest much, this season is usually referred to over there as the season of pumpkin-everything! So, true, right? It's because pumpkin is good y'all! We get excited. Kinda like bacon. You just say the word and you have everybody's attention!
So when I saw my folks at Kroger putting out the cans of canned pumpkin pie filling this past week, I knew I had to figure out something to make with it. 

Of course, I coulda just made pumpkin pie, right? But ya know, my brain is always thinking of fun twists on classics that y'all might love too. And so, enter the Magic Pumpkin Cake, a.k.a., Pumpkin Layer Cake. Layers of pumpkin pie, vanilla cake and pumpkin pie-spiced whipped topping. Hello sweet pumpkin cake! Where have you been all my life?
Why is it magic? Well, because you actually pour the cake batter in first and the pumpkin pie filling in second -  but after it bakes - the pumpkin layer ends up on bottom and the cake layer on top. So obviously, no magic happpening here, it's just because the pumpkin layer weighs more than the cake layer so it sinks to the bottom of the baking dish. But baking it this way allows everything to cook evenly without any layer being under-done or overcooked. Do yourself a flavor - make this!
1 box vanilla cake mix (plus ingredients needed to make cake: eggs, oil, water)*
1 (30 oz.) can pumpkin pie mix*
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
2 Eggland's Best eggs
1 (3.5 oz.) box instant vanilla pudding
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, divided use
1 cup cold milk
1 (8 oz.) tub whipped topping (COOL WHIP), thawed
*Cake mix note: The cake mix I used (Betty Crocker) called for 3 eggs, 1/2 cup oil and 1 cup water (as seen in the above picture)
*Pumpkin Mix Note: We're using pumpkin pie mix NOT canned pumpkin. Pumpkin Pie Mix already has the pumpkin and seasoning and sugar added to it. All you have to do is add the eggs and evaporated milk to it. I add additional pumpkin spice seasoning because we love it. Canned pumpkin is just plain pumpkin - we don't want that here. 

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. 
Prepare cake mix according to package directions.
Pour cake batter into prepared baking dish (don't bake yet!) Keep the mixing bowl handy!
Now prepare the pumpkin pie mix. Combine contents of can of pumpkin pie mix with eggs, evaporated milk and one teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. Stir well. 
I just wipe out the same bowl I used for the cake batter and use that to mix the pumpkin pie filling. No need to make a bunch of dirty dishes! 
Now, slowly pour the pumpkin pie mix right onto the cake batter.  
Just pour it all over the entire cake. 
Then put in the oven and bake for about 50-60 minutes. The cake will look a little darker than what we're used to. Don't worry - it will be fine. And fear not - there will be layers under there! Allow cake to cool completely - at least a couple of hours. 
Once cake is cooled, begin making topping. 
Combine package of instant pudding with teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. 
Then pour in cold milk. 
Whisk mixture until pudding begins to thicken.
Then gently fold in whipped topping. 
Then spread topping onto cooled cake.
You can serve it immediately but I would recommend popping it in the fridge for at least an hour. This will help the topping setup a bit more and make it easier to slice (but it's not absolutely necessary).
 I added some mini cinnamon chips on top just to make it look pretty. 
Slice up and serve!
Cook's notes: Keep refrigerated if not eating immediately. In addition, refrigerate any leftovers. 



  1. Oh my goodness Brandie, that looks amazing! I hope you don't mind if I share the link on my FB page next week. I just know that everybody will love it!!

  2. I would be honored Mary - thank you!

  3. I never know what kind of cake mix to buy. Does it matter if I get a pudding-in-the-mix cake mix or should I stick with a conventional cake mix? Seems like recipes never make that distinction. Thanks.

  4. Anonymous, I think if you stick with the kind I used in the above photo - you'll do great. I generally do not use pudding in the mix boxed cake mixes for anything other than when I am making just the cake. Hope that helps!

  5. I enjoy your recipes - both reading and trying! Question about this one is: Can it be "downsized" for just 2 retired people? A cake this size would take us forever to eat, and I wouldn't want it to spoil. And we are surrounded by large families (5-7 peeps)on all sides, so sharing half a cake won't work either.

  6. This looks better than a pumpkin pie, especially with the cinnamon chips sprinkled on top.

  7. Oh my stars, that just looks way too good and way too easy not to make! Plus it looks pretty, I'm going to have to make it for my workplace potluck.

  8. Anonymous - hmmm. I'm not exactly sure how you could cut it in half. I've been trying to think of how you could do it. I suppose you could make it then freeze half for later. I just don't know how well it would freeze but if you wrap it up good, it should work. I'm sorry I'm not more help on that!
    Thanks SO much Joanne and Samantha! Be sure to let me know what you think about it!

    1. Why not bake it in two 9 inch round pans and just wrap and freeze one for later?

  9. Yes, you can freeze half. Then just make 1/2 of the topping just before serving.

  10. I am a little confused. You use the eggs that are called for by the cake mix box and then you add more eggs in your ingredients? Thank you in advance of responding to me.

  11. Hey there Tammy, you use eggs in the cake mix as well as the pumpkin mixture. So what ever your box cake calls for also allow for the 2 eggs for the pumpkin mixture. Hope that helps

  12. This cake looks lovely. What do you think would happen if the pumpkin mixture were doubled? That way the entire cake would be covered with pumpkin mixture. The photo shows parts of the cake that weren't covered before baking. I was thinking of not using the entire doubled pumpkin mixture but just enough so that the entire pan would be covered. Or does the pumpkin spread out during baking so that you get a forkful in each bite? Thanks.


  14. You do not have to make a double pumpkin mix.... as it spreads
    out to the entire pan.... looks great....
    good to read the recipe a couple times and has
    steps to recipe to form the layers....

    a great recipe and pretty dessert.....

  15. do you think you could use butterscotch chips instead of cinnamon?

  16. We don’t like the pre-spiced pumpkin pie filling and prefer to make our own spice mix. Is it OK to use plain pumpkin puree so it can spiced to our taste?

  17. Butterscotch would probably be good. I have a pumpkin cake recipe that includes chocolate chips. That is really good. It's a Bundt cake. I will post it sometime soon.

  18. Well, here I go again!! These darn magic cakes get me every time!! Thanks. I know this will be a hugh hit.

  19. Can you make this recipe gluten-free. Thanks

  20. I have made a similar cake that I got the recipe for from a lady at my church about 10 yrs ago, the only difference was she made her own whipped cream w/ heavy cream, vanilla, powdered sugar and pumpkin pie spice. I'm going to make this today because here in New England Fall is just starting to show and this cake will not only look beautiful but taste amazing! Thanks:-)

  21. Hi guys, I would like to do it but in Belgium, I can't find many of these things, could you help me that, please? :)


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