There are few autumnal desserts more delicious than a pumpkin poke cake soaked with caramel and sweetened condensed milk. For those not in the know, a "poke" cake is one that has literally been poked (in this instance, with the handle of a wooden spoon), then drenched with a glaze that's absorbed by the cake via the holes. The resulting "poked" cake (similar to tres leches) is not only incredibly moist, but—depending on the ingredients in the glaze—incredibly flavorful to boot. Flavor can be "baked out" of a cake, as it were, but the flavors of an uncooked glaze, like the one here, remain potent (in a good way!).
This pumpkin poke cake just screams fall due to the cinnamon and nutmeg in the cake. The milky caramel glaze (with a dash of salt to cut the sweetness) is the perfect accompaniment. The cake is sweet—there is no denying that—but the topping of unsweetened whipped cream (a wonderful contrast texturally to the cake heavy with glaze) is the much appreciated and tasty antidote. A final drizzle of caramel over each slice before serving is the most excellent of finishing touches.
- For the Cake:
- 1 (15.25-ounce) package yellow cake mix
- 1 large egg
- 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- For the Glaze:
- 1 (12.5-ounce) jar caramel sauce
- 1 (15-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- For the Topping:
- 3 cups heavy cream
Gather the ingredient. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Grease a 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray or softened butter.
In a large bowl, whisk together the cake mix, egg, pumpkin puree, and spices until smooth.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating at the halfway point. The cake is ready when a cake tester comes out with a moist crumb or two. Let the cake cool before poking, about 1 hour.
Using the end of a wooden spoon, poke holes all over surface of the cake.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the caramel sauce and the sweetened condensed milk, reserving 1/4 cup of the caramel sauce for drizzling when serving.
Evenly pour the mixture over the cake and into the holes and refrigerate the cake until chilled, about 2 hours.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form.
Spread the cream over the cake.
Slice and serve, drizzling each slice with the reserved caramel before doing so.
- You can assemble the cake in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, if you would prefer.
- Wipe off the end of your poking utensil in between each poke, if you find that it is getting sticky and crumb-covered.
- Be sure to pour the glaze over the cake evenly, as it may pool in the middle and if it does so, spread the excess glaze to the edges.
- Place the freshly baked cake in the freezer or refrigerator, to cool it down more quickly if you are in a rush, or just like to eat cake as soon as is possible after making it.
- The cake will last up to three days tightly wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator, but is best the day it is made.
- If you would like to sweeten your cream topping, you can add up to 3 tablespoons of confectioners' sugar.
- If you do not want to make your own whipped cream, you can substitute Cool-Whip.