Preheat your oven to 350. Prep two 5” round 3” deep, two 6” round 3” deep, and two 7” round 3” deep pans by greasing the bottoms and laying down a baking paper circle at the bottom of each.
Combine your dry ingredients (excluding the cocoa powder) in a medium mixing bowl and set aside. You can replace the spices listed with an equal amount of commercial pumpkin spice, or your own signature mix if you’re fancy like that.
In a small bowl, combine the pumpkin, vanilla, and cold brew, whisking to combine. Set aside.
Place your room temp butter, eggs, and both kinds of sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, cream on medium until lightened in color, fluffy, and totally smooth, about 3-5 minutes. If it looks like the mixture has broken (the fat and liquid ingredients are separated), keep creaming until it all comes together. Scrape your bowl with a spatula to make sure nothing’s sticking to the sides.
Add your pumpkin mixture and continue to beat until combined.
Shifting the mixer to low speed, incorporate your dry mixture in two additions making sure to beat just until combined after each. Scrape your bowl and mix for just another few seconds to make sure the batter is homogeneous.
—Create Your Marble Batter—.
Take 4 cups of batter and set in a medium bowl. Mix in the 3 teaspoons orange gel coloring (I used CK Orange) until the batter is a solid color. Pour enough of this batter into each of your two 3” deep, 5” round pans that it reaches halfway up the side.
Next take 3 more cups of batter and combine with the 1/4 cup cocoa powder, mixing until totally incorporated.
Place alternating scoops of brown, tan, and remaining orange batter into your remaining four larger cake pans, doing your best to make sure the batter comes up to about halfway up the side of the pan in all four. It’s okay if they aren’t all exactly even.
Bake your cakes for 35-45 minutes, and remove from the oven when a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to come to room temperature on a cooling rack, then cover with foil and put the cakes in the fridge for about an hour, until cold. To de-pan, remove from the fridge and slide a paring or butter knife around the outside to free the cake. Invert and gently shake out your cake.
—Make Your Buttercream—.
Follow the recipes for two batches of Cold Brew Coffee Buttercream and one batch of Milkmoon Meringue Buttercream.
—Prep Your Base—.
Level the tops of your 6” and 7” cakes, and torte (split) each cake into two for a total of eight layers. Keep the smaller 5” cakes aside.
Stack your cake layers on an 8” or 9” round cardboard cake circle or board (it’s best if the board or circle is completely flat, so a plate may not work great) starting with the 7”s then adding the 6”s, filling the layers with Cold Brew Coffee Buttercream. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until the cake firms up completely.
Trim the caramelization from the sides of your cake, doing your best to emphasize the slight angle from the 6” round top to the 7” round base. You’re basically making an upside down cup shape.
—Frost the Cake—.
Add a very thin crumb coat of coffee buttercream to the top of the cake, then press a 6” round acrylic circle or waxed cardboard round onto the top. Cutting the tip off of a disposable piping bag to leave a 1/2 inch circle at the end, pipe your remaining coffee buttercream onto the sides of the cake, leaving space at the top and the bottom for the “whipped cream” you’ll be adding shortly. Keep the edges of your coffee buttercream wavy and organic, which will look more realistic!
Use a straight edge to smooth the coffee buttercream—I use a tall plastic quilting ruler! Use that acrylic or cardboard round at the top to guide your straight edge, creating a perfectly smooth finish. Refrigerate until firm.
Pipe plain white buttercream at the top and bottom of the cake’s sides, leaving little gaps here and there between the white buttercream and coffee buttercream in the top area of the cake. Make another pass with your straight edge, getting your “whip” nice and smooth, and flush with the coffee buttercream. Refrigerate until firm.
Mix a few squirts or orange gel into about 1/2 cup white buttercream to create a bright pumpkin-y color. Remove your firmed cake from the fridge and push this orange buttercream into the spaces you left up at the top between the white and the coffee buttercream using a small icing spatula. Refrigerate until firm, then use the icing spatula to scrape down any messy buttercream to reveal clean lines underneath.
—Flip the Cake—.
You heard me. You’re going to place your nice cake board or cake plate so it’s ready on the counter, pick up your cake, place a hand on either side, and flip it so that the 7” end is at the top and the 6” end is at the bottom. Your cake needs to be super thoroughly chilled before you do this step, so definitely make sure it has spent a cumulative 2-3 hours in the fridge! Center the cup-shaped cake on your board (When you’re cutting the cake just remember that you have a second board at the very bottom of the cake. You can also remove that board on the 6” side if you want the cake to go straight onto the final fancy board, but it’s a somewhat riskier move when you’re flipping the cake).
Carefully pinch the 8 or 9” round you were using as the base of the cake before you flipped it and gently pull it up, moving around the cake as you pop it up off of the buttercream on the sides. Remove it entirely to reveal your bare cake top.
—Create the Pumpkin Surprise Topping—.
Using a sharp paring knife, carve down the two 5” orange cakes into domes, one with a knob on the top for the pumpkin’s “stem.” Using a dab or two of the orange buttercream from earlier, join your cake domes on the flat sides to create a delicious mini-pumpkin!
Smooth a small amount of white buttercream to the top of the flipped cake, and center your mini-pumpkin on the top. Using another disposable piping bag with a 1/2” hole at the tip, pipe white buttercream over the pumpkin and then smooth with a small icing spatula to create a nice mound that entirely obscures the pumpkin within.
Use the largest closed-star or regular star piping tip you can find to pipe a swirl of white buttercream over the pumpkin surprise to create the “whipped cream” topping. You can use a Wilton 2D, although I found a set of even bigger jumbo piping tips online (Jusbe brand) and used their closed star tip to create my cake. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to firm up the outside of the buttercream.
In the meantime make a small amount of drizzle by placing your white chocolate or candy wafers and heavy cream in a microwaveable bowl and microwave for 15 seconds at a time, stirring frequently, until the chocolate has dissolved. Mix in a squirt of orange gel coloring to achieve a bright pumpkin color, or you can stir in a little leftover orange buttercream if you have any.
Place the ganache in a squeeze bottle if you have one, or just use a spoon to drizzle it all over the “whipped cream” buttercream swirl.
This is a bonus step that is optional, but really does tie everything together! Cut out a three-inch circle of green fondant and apply it to the side of the cake. Using a paintbrush dipped in white edible paint (I use Edible Art paint by Sweet Sticks), you can either freehand a pumpkin shape (or your initials, or anything else you want to add!) or you can create a stencil like I did. I used an x-acto knife to cut out my pumpkin design from plain paper, and then stuck it onto the fondant round, painted over it, and peeled it away to leave a fun pumpkin design.
I finished my latte look by cutting a super cute paper straw in half and inserting both pieces into the swirl.
—Cutting the Cake—.
While the outside of this cake is awesome, the best part is what’s going on inside! When you cut your slices of cake, you will slowly reveal the pumpkin shape hidden under the swirl on top! Make sure you take a pause once you’re halfway through cutting up the cake so everyone can admire the detail you put into the super fun design!