Monday, November 23, 2020

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Caramel Sauce

Always leave them wanting more, or so the saying goes. This will be my last regular post at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. It seems like yesterday that Daryl Wood Gerber and I cooked up the idea of this blog at Malice Domestic. We were so new and blogs were hot, hot, hot! What could be better than recipes from authors? We met Julie Hyzy that same day and loved her instantly. She was on board as soon as we told her about it. Jenn McKinlay joined us with her cupcake series. Elizabeth Spann Craig was writing the barbecue series. My editor suggested Cleo Coyle to round out the bunch. And on July 25, 2009, the first post appeared and we were up and running. 

Over the years, others authors came and went. I have made so many wonderful friends through this blog. I have met new people, learned a lot about cooking, and had so much fun. I'm not sure how it looks to those on the outside, but we have always had a wonderful group here and the blog almost ran itself.

But these days, with three series, I'm swamped and it's time for me to make my exit and spend my time pursuing other things.

I've already been invited back as a guest! So this is really so long, not goodbye.

Since this is my last post, I wanted to make something sort of special. Back in the days when I actually had spare time, one of the things I liked to do was bake fancy cakes. You might have heard about Leslie Budewitz's theory that we are divided into the Clan of the Cake and the People of the Pie. I am a firm member of the Clan of the Cake.

For Thanksgiving, I always bake a pie. Always. But I don't think I'll ever beat my Cream Cheese Pumpkin Pie with Caramel

It's a permanent part of my Thanksgiving must-haves now.

So today, I have returned to my own clan with a cake, in case someone wants to go in that direction. 

Originally, I thought I might put cranberries in between layers. But then I decided that a "naked" cake would be a nice change, though you could definitely frost the entire cake if you prefer. This is a super sweet cake. If you lean toward less sweetness, then simply substitute a whipped cream frosting, which would be delicious.

Pumpkin Spice Cake

2 9-inch cake pans


1 cup 2% milk

1 teaspoon vinegar

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

pinch of cloves

3 eggs 

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 cup vegetable oil

Grease and flour the pans, and cut parchment paper to fit the bottoms. Preheat the oven to 350. 

Pour the vinegar into the milk and set aside. 

In a bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Stir well with a whisk or a fork to combine.

In a mixer, beat the eggs with the sugars until thick. Add the vanilla and the pumpkin and beat. Slowly add in the oil while beating. Give a good spin to combine everything. Turn the mixer to low and add the flour in parts, alternating with the milk mixture.

Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 20-24 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Set on racks to cool. Remove the parchment paper from the bottoms.

Frost when cool.


Cream Cheese Frosting 
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, softened

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 teaspoons vanilla

3-4 cups powdered sugar

Beat the butter with the cream cheese. Add the vanilla and beat. Add the sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating in between. Beat for five minutes.

Caramel Sauce

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons butter 

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

Place ingredients in a microwave safe bowl. (I use a Pyrex 2-cup measuring cup.) Microwave in short bursts from 20-50 seconds, stirring each time until it bubbles up and is hot. Set aside to cool.



Slice each layer horizontally. Spread about 1/4th of the cream cheese frosting on each layer. Pour the caramel sauce over the top, letting it puddle and run down the sides. If the caramel is too stiff, then pop it in the microwave for 20-30 seconds and stir.

Mix all the spices with the flour very well.

Spread the frosting on each layer.

Yes, I gave half of it away!



Coming in 2021


  1. Krista, it has been my pleasure and honor to blog with you these past 11 years. A decade of blogging together has gone by in what feels like a flash. But this is not goodbye, simply so long. We all look forward to many visits from you to update us on your life and work and terrific new mysteries.

    I wish you could pass me a slice of that fantastic cake--and, yes, I'll also take a slab of that amazing cheesecake pumpkin pie. Can one be a member of both the Clan of the Cake and People of the Pie? (I am certainly willing!) What a spectacular way to celebrate Thanksgiving and new beginnings. Marc and I both send you our warmest wishes and heartfelt blessings for a happy holiday and bright New Year.

    With much love,
    ~ Cleo

  2. That is one amazing cake K! We will miss you very much, but I feel sure we'll be touch many other ways. xox Lucy

  3. As a newish member of the blog, I appreciate that history, Krista! We thank you and will miss you. Also - a stunning cake. Wow.

  4. I've loved this blog since it first began, and I was so honoured to be invited to join it last year. Thanks for everything Krista, and hopefully we will be together in person soon.

  5. We'll miss you, Krista. Like Edith, I appreciate the history. I've overlapped with you on the blog for only 15 months. Though you've been busy, you've been generous with answers and fixes for a variety of problems. Wishing you all the best as you move on and looking forward to your occasional visits. Hope to see you at the next in-person Malice.

  6. I had often wondered how this blog came to be. I can't believe it has been 11 years. I was stumbling around the internet one day and luckily came across a link to this site. I have been a follower ever since.

    Krista, I must tell you how much I have enjoyed your diva series and the recipe for your peach muffins. You will be missed.

  7. I'm getting all teary, Krista! You have worked so hard to make the blog a success and we will miss your guidance and your gorgeous cakes! Looking forward to your guest posts!

  8. This cake sounds wonderful, Krista! Your upcoming books look like great cozy reads!

  9. Oh, Krista! I understand all things must change, but I (selfishly) am saddened to see you leave. I've been hanging around the blog since the old days, and always looked forward to seeing and hearing what you were up to. Thank you for your terrific books, wonderful community you helped create, and all the fantastic recipes and contests. I know it was a lot of work for you, and I appreciate everything you've done. Your presence here will be greatly missed. I wish you nothing but the best of everything in your life, and hope you'll keep us posted when time permits. As you said, it's not goodbye, only So Long for now. Take care, and A bientot, my pal! Now I'm going to have a good cry, as I look at your beautiful recipe. xxx ooo

  10. Aww we will miss you. So glad to hear that you will still be visiting. Thanks for this wonderful recipe. Should be perfect for Thanksgiving.

  11. What a lovely post -- and cake -- to leave us with, dear Krista! All the bloggers here now and over the years, and all the many readers and cooks, are grateful to you, Daryl, Cleo, and the other founding mothers for what you've created here.

    And I will happily admit, you've tempted me into not just drooling but actually baking quite a few cakes and coffee cakes in my 6 years on the blog!

  12. Aw, Krista, what lovely memories. You know how much I adore you! Thank you for all you have done for me and all of us. ~ Daryl

  13. I've been a fan of this blog for many years, and was absolutely thrilled to become a part of this amazing group of writers and cooks last spring. Thank you, Krista, for the idea, the implementation, and all these fabulous years of Mystery Lovers' Kitchen!

  14. Krista, you are a true treasure and you have given so much to Mystery Lovers Kitchen and all of your colleagues here (present and past) plus your loyal readers. You miss be missed and we will be overjoyed whenever you return! Thank you for this fantastic 'going away cake'. XOXO

  15. Oh, No! We've become a broken family!!!
    Best wishes on your writing and do visit regularly.

  16. Krista, you will be missed here, but as long as your wonderful books keep coming we will be happy. Good luck!

  17. I'm sorry that you are "leaving" but I won't complain since you are doing it so you can concentrate on your writing. I love your books! (My dream is to move to Wagtail and help run the Inn) Take care and visit when you can.

  18. This is amazing! Thanks you for sharing. We will miss you.

  19. I thank you for all of your posts that you have done here.I always looked forward to your recipes and never won a print book but that was ok as loved seeing your posts. I wish you much luck in your wanting to write more and will be looking for your new books that you are going to be writing . You can always come to the site just to say hi to us and we will surely miss you. Hugs peggy clayton