Biltmore Estate's pumpkin pecan layer cake with cream cheese frosting and caramel

Chef Sean Eckman
Biltmore Estate
Pumpkin Pecan Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Executive Chef Sean Eckman of the Dining Room at The Inn on Biltmore Estate created this modern take on a classic based on a 1904 menu book in Biltmore’s archives. This delicious dessert will end your holiday meal in style.


For the cake:

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 3/4 teaspoons ground allspice

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1½ cups sugar

1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

1 cup canola oil

4 large eggs

1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the caramel pecan filling

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1/2 cup heavy cream

4 cups toasted pecans

For the frosting

2 pounds cream cheese

12 ounces butter

6 cups confectioner’s sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 vanilla bean


For the cake: Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter two 8-inch-diameter cake pans with 1½-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper; dust pans with flour. Sift 3 cups flour and next 7 ingredients into a medium bowl.

Using electric mixer, beat both sugars and oil in large bowl until combined (mixture will look grainy). Add eggs one at a time, beating until well blended after each addition.

Add pumpkin and vanilla and beat until well blended. Add flour mixture. Beat just until incorporated. Divide batter between prepared pans and smooth tops of batter. Bake cakes until tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.

Cool cakes completely in pans on rack. Run knife around cakes to loosen. Invert cakes onto racks. Remove parchment paper. Turn cakes over, rounded side up. Using a serrated knife, trim rounded tops of cakes to level. Cut each layer in half. Fill with Caramel Pecan filling and top with Cream Cheese Vanilla Bean Frosting.

For the filling: Stir sugar and water in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush until caramel is deep amber, 12–15 minutes. Add honey; return to a boil, stirring often, about 1 minute longer. Add butter; stir until blended. Add cream (mixture will bubble vigorously); whisk until smooth. Add pecans. Let set until cool enough to spread. Apply mixture to each layer.

For the frosting: Soften cream cheese and butter and mix together until smooth. Add sugar, vanilla, and vanilla bean seeds. Beat until smooth. Spread over top and sides of cake.