For James’ birthday, I decided to do a pumpkin theme party! Since in the first year, babies don’t really show a real preference to much of anything, I didn’t have an idea of a specific “James” theme. But since his birthday is in October, I thought a pumpkin fall theme would work great! I wanted to go all out on the baking and using two bundt cakes toped together into “pumpkins” was perfect! I found a lot of cakes that went all out and did fondant to make the pumpkin shaped cake, but I wanted something more simpler and modern. I came across these candied orange peels on a different dessert and thought, this would look so pretty on a cake and a simple leaf as the implied stem! And that’s how it all began.
I found a recipe online and then changed it to fit the flavor of cake I was going for. With all the British Bake Off I have been watching lately, I had to throw in some cardamom to make it sound fancy. I am not a star baker by any means so if I tell people that it’s a “Pumpkin Orange Cardamom Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Maple Syrup Frosting and Candied Orange Peels” maybe they’ll be distracted by the name that they believe it tastes better than it actually is? To my surprise, the name didn’t matter, everyone loved the cake and multiple people asked me for the recipe. And why this blog posts now exists!
I made three pumpkin versions: a large commonly-sized bundt cake, a small size, and then mini bundt cakes (truth be told, the mini and small ones are not this recipe but now I wish I had made them all with this one!). All bundt cakes were stacked together to make the shape of a pumpkin. The mini were either dipped in chocolate, frosting and coconut, or left plain. The mini cakes have a wafer on top to represent the stem. The medium cake got frosting and tons of gold sprinkles. And the main cake was frosted and sprinkled with candied orange peels on top! The stem on this and James’ smash cake was a nice modern solution with just a eucalyptus leaf stuck in on top.
My favorite part of the entire cake is the candied orange peels. I made them 2 days before the party and they dried even more which made them that much more delectable. It was such an easy process and they taste just like those orange chocolate Christmas candies that my mom loves but without the chocolate and I made them from scratch! Literally the perfect way to use your orange peels. I might just start making them all the time because they make the best sweet snack and last for so long in a Ziploc! The ones I made here went quick! Everybody raved about them and how well they complimented the delicious cake!
I wasn’t going for perfection so I just lathered on the frosting for a “naked cake” look and then sprinkled all the orange peels on top. I made the largest bundt cake 2 days before the party and froze it. They thawed really well and stayed moist. The cake isn’t overly sweet and so the crunchy chewy orange peels combined are a perfect match. Next time I will make sure to add frosting between the two layers but since I had frozen it stacked, they were too difficult to separate to add the frosting between the day off. So freeze them separately is my only advice! After you take them out is when you can stack them to make a pumpkin shaped cake!
Pumpkin Orange Cardamom Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Maple Syrup Frosting & Candied Orange Peels
This moist bundt cake is the perfect blend of pumpkin, orange, and fall spices. Stack them together to make the perfect pumpkin shaped cake! The sweet crunch of the candied orange peels elevates it to the next level. It works at any size!
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 full orange zest grated on microplane
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin purée
- 1/2 cup sour cream
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 oz full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 3 1/4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp salt
Candied Orange Peels
- 2 large organic (unwaxed) oranges you can do this with lemon, lime, or grapefruit too
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a large 12-cup capacity bundt pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, and cloves until well combined. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugars, butter, vanilla extract, orange zest, and oil. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy for about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing for about 20 seconds in between each egg. Add the pumpkin purée and sour cream, and mix until well combined, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary.
Remove the bowl from the mixer, and use a rubber spatula to fold in the dry ingredients until well combined. Make sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure an evenly mixed batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake until golden and puffed, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 55-60 minutes.
Set the cake, still in its pan, on a rack to cool for 20 minutes, then use the tip of a knife to loosen the edges and invert the cake onto the rack to cool completely before glazing.
Cream Cheese Maple Syrup Frosting
In a large bowl using a handheld of stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed until smooth and creamy.
Add the sifted powdered sugar, the vanilla, and salt and beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes.
Cover and store leftover frosting for up to 5 days in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer. After freezing, thaw in the fridge then beat the frosting for a few seconds so it's creamy again.
Candied Orange Peels
Cut each piece of fruit into 8 wedges, then remove the flesh from the skin. Cut each peel into small strips.
Put the strips into a small pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the liquid then repeat with fresh water, however this time, bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. (The second time make sure to add enough water so that it all doesn't steam out.)
Now drain and reserve the liquid into a measuring jug. Put the strips of peel in a bowl. Add 100g (1/2 cup) sugar to each 100 ml (3.5 oz) of water, then pour into a pan over low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the strips and simmer for 30 minutes until the peel is translucent and soft. You can go longer if they don't look translucent enough, but make sure they don't start breaking down.
Alow to cool in syrup, then remove with fork and arrange in a single layer on a wire rack or parchment paper to dry. Let dry for about 3 hours or you can place the rack in a warm oven for a half hour.
Lastly, dip the strips of peeled into a bowl of sugar, a few at a time, then place on parchment or waxed paper to allow to dry for at least an hour. I left mine overnight.
Keep the candied peel in an airtight container lined with baking parchment. It will keep for 6-8 weeks in a cool, dry place.
I made the candied orange peels 2 days before the event and put them in a Ziploc bag. I made the bundt cake 2 days before as well and froze it. I took it out the morning of the event and it thawed beautifully.