Pumpkin Crunch Cake – My Holiday Tradition

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

When Foodbuzz announced it was looking for dishes that were Holiday traditions in our homes, I replied to them asking to be included in this event, I knew I wanted to share one of my dishes with everyone, but I just couldn’t decide what to go with.  Was it the stuffing for my turkey, one of the many pies I’ve made over the years, Mama Jeanette’s Bread Pudding recipe…..no nothing seemed quite right, they were all delicious but they just weren’t traditions in my home.  One very special dessert did come to mind, it’s a dessert that usually makes just one appearance a year.  You can be guaranteed  that sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas you’ll see this extra special cake  It’s also a cake I made for our engagement party the very first year we were together.

Since I usually end up eating 75% of the cake by myself, it’s a good thing I don’t make it more often…sigh.   Last year I did start distributing wedges of cake to the neighbors, which got me a marriage proposal in the process….luckily her husband took it in stride as did Lisa!   So when you make this cake for your family and friends be prepared, and also have extra copies of the recipe on hand, because your going to need them!  This cake is just that good!

Holiday’s can be a very special time, we have been blessed as food bloggers, not only do we have enough to eat, but we have enough to make dishes to blog about……not everyone is that fortunate, and although it should be in our thoughts the entire year, this time of year it needs to be at the top of our list.

Here’s one way you can help, Foodbuzz has partnered with Frigidaire for the Talk Turkey campaign to benefit Save the Children and they need your help. Go to Make Time for Change to “talk turkey” and Frigidaire donates $1 every time you leave a tip, and who knows you might even win the new range that they’re giving away.  So take a few minutes and leave a tip for Frigidaire’s Talk Turkey, I’ll be here with a slice a cake and a cup of  good cheer when you get back.

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

5.0 from 38 reviews
Pumpkin Crunch Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 12-16
Crunch Topping
  • 3 Cups (450 g) walnuts, finely chopped
  • 3 Cups (360 g) vanilla wafers (about 75 cookies)
  • 3 Cups (540 g) brown sugar
  • 8 oz (184 g) butter
Pumpkin Crunch Cake
  • 1¼ (250 g) cup sugar
  • 6 oz (168 g) softened butter
  • 1 16 oz (425 g) can solid pack pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 2½ ( 300 g) Cups flour
  • ½ Cup (96 g) Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon (15 g) pumpkin pie spice
  • 2¼ Teaspoons( 12 g) baking powder
  • ¾ Teaspoon (4 g) baking soda
  • ½ Teaspoon (2.5) Salt
  • 4 Large Eggs
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 16 oz (454 g) cream cheese
  • 8 oz (227 g) mascarpone (or cream cheese)*
  • 8 oz (227 g) softened butter
  • 2 cups (150 g) confectioners sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla
Crunch Topping
  1. Melt Butter
  2. In a food processor, pulse cookies to a fine crumb
  3. Then Pulse walnuts to a fine chop
  4. Add in Brown Sugar and mix well.
  5. Add in Melted Butter and blend together.
  6. Divide mixture into 4 Coated Cake Pans (One very full cup per pan), pressing into bottom and spreading it evenly into the cake pans. Reserve about 2 cups of the mixture which will be baked to use on the sides of the cake.
  7. Set pans aside and begin cake.
  8. Pre heat Oven to 350 degrees.
Pumpkin Cake
  1. In your mixer beat sugar and butter for about 5 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl frequently .
  2. Add In Pumpkin and all the rest of the ingredients, except the eggs. Mix just until blended.
  3. Add in the Eggs, one at a time just until blended.
  4. Divide batter equally into your 4 prepared cake pans, smooth it out and make it as even as possible in the pan.
  5. Place remaining crunch mixture in another cake pan or pie dish and allow to bake for the smae amount of time as the cakes.
  6. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If you use 2 racks to bake on in the oven, at the halfway mark rotate the pans .
  7. Allow pans to cool about 10 minutes, then turn them out onto a wire racks and allow to completely cool.
  8. break up the extra crunch mix to very small bits to use to decorate the cake with.
  9. while your cakes are baking prepare a Cream Cheese Frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Whip the cream cheese, mascarpone, and butter till very smooth and creamy
  2. Slowly add in the 10x sugar while mixer is on low setting
  3. Add in Vanilla and mix well. Set aside till needed.
  1. After your cake is completely cooled ( you can even refrigerate for a few hours) begin frosting the layers and putting the cake together.
  2. When you have assembled all the layers with some frosting between them, start to spread the remaining frosting on the sides and top.
  3. When finished frosting, coat sides and top with your extra crunch mixture*
*You can substitute cream cheese for the Mascarpone, I don't always have it on hand. You may want to increase the butter a bit cutting that amount from the cream cheese. If you have a favorite cream cheese frosting recipe, use that!

*feel free to eliminate the extra frosting on the sides of the cake and the additional crunch topping on the sides, the original cake was served simply with only whipped cream between the layers.

**I always use standard size 9 inch round cake pans. You can use other size pans but your cooking times will need to be adjusted

****If your cake sticks to the bottom of the pan, place it on a burner of your stove for about 15 seconds, the heat will help release the cake from the pan. This process works for all cakes. Just be careful and judge how hot and evenly your stove top heats the pan.
After heating place a plate on top of the pan, and invert quickly. Tap the pan with the heel of a knife to help release the cake.


Now your incredibly delicious Pumpkin Crunch Cake is finished!  It should be allowed to chill for a few hours before cutting, it will help firm up this cake (When you do cut it make sure to use a serrated knife), But you can eat it right away if you just can’t wait!  I know you will enjoy this and anyone you feed it too will soon be asking for another slice!

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

This time of year when the weather turns chilly, and the night comes quicker is my favorite time for family and friends.  Sharing a cup of mulled cider, hot chocolate, or the beverage of your choice, with some freshly baked treat……sigh…..it just doesn’t get better than that.  Sitting on the porch, or out by a fire pit, looking up at the clear night sky, counting the stars, laughing with friends, or steeling a kiss from your sweetie.  Fall nights were made for sharing, so make sure you take some time to enjoy them.

Thanks for stopping by, see you all real soon!


  1. Chef, This cake is a stunning! The layers, the frosting, and the texture…How I could dive right in to a generous slice of this lovely Pumpkin Crunch Cake now. Thank you for sharing the recipe good man, I’m sure this will become a holiday tradition for many!

  2. Dennis, this cake sounds amazing! I can see why it is a tradition! I love the crunchy coating on the outside, it is such a nice textural contrast to the soft cake and frosting! I myself prefer cakes with a little crunch somewhere along with the soft ;)! This is perfect for the Holidays. Hope you are having a wonderful fall!

  3. Oh my gosh. I haven’t even tasted it and I’m about to ask you to marry me! Hubby won’t mind, I promise. He’ll just ask for a slice as well. Wow, it’s gorgeous. I can well imagine how this cemented your marriage proposal if it was at the engagement party. well done, Chef, well done!

  4. Wow this looks stunning, not to mention delicious! I’m definitely making this!! 🙂 Thanks!

  5. what a gorgeous cake! i love pumpkin and the idea of pairing it with a crunchy topping… i wish i could have helped you eat this cake. sigh… =)

  6. My heart stood still when I saw this beautiful cake. Couldn’t be more perfect.

  7. Absolutely stunning! I can see why someone proposed marriage!

  8. That cake looks wonderful! I can see why you end up eating a bunch and why it got you a proposal!!!! I think it makes a cake more special if you only make it once a year. What a great tradition!

  9. Chef Dennis. What a beautiful, beautiful cake! Looks so delicious and festive.
    I’m so sorry that I haven’t been visiting for a while. I just updated your web address on my blogger thingy, so I should be getting new updates now. Hope you are well. Michael

  10. It looks good and really interesting is that cake is Crunchy! 🙂 Oh, I would like to have a piece now..

  11. Chef, you’re an amazing cake baker. I don’t want to read again on your blog, that you don’t know much about baking. I mean, just look at that cake. It’s absolutely STUNNING!
    Oh, how I wish I had a slice with my morning tea…

  12. Oh, my gosh! No wonder you love this cake…it looks amazing! LOL at the proposal…what an endorsement 🙂

  13. It is absolutely…. irresistibly delicious! I must do. Thanks 😉

  14. Over the top sweet tooth heaven!! I’m sure I’d eat 75% of it myself also. This is one gorgeous cake Chef.

  15. Oh my goodness! This is incredible especially with the crunch topping and addition of mascarpone. What a great tradition, it’s going to become my tradition today. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  16. This is fantastic! The layering is beautiful, the frosting and topping so inviting. Love your paragraph at the bottom. It totally evokes the coziness of the coming months. Love it!

  17. This cake is beautiful! I love when food has an extra crunch to it, so this is perfect! Thanks for sharing it.

  18. Wow! That is one amazing holiday tradition! I especially love the crunch topping…. YUM!

  19. This cake is amazing with all the layers, the pumpkin, and the crunch. No wonder this “sealed the deal” on your engagement. Fall is my favorite season, and this cake is the perfect Fall dessert for a special occasion.

  20. What a showstopper this cake is! Anything with butter, walnuts, brown sugar and nearly 80 cookies does it for me. Wow! I think I would marry you for this one too!

  21. This cake looks so beautiful and so good, it almost makes me want to cry. That’s how bad I would love a piece. I think I might make it for my family’s Thanksgiving dinner omitting the nuts cause one of my girls is anaphylactic to all nuts and peanuts. Beautiful well done job!!

  22. I have been staring at this cake for a half hour… it is so beautiful!
    I’ll have to test it out at Thanksgiving.

    Pumpkin Pie, watch out. You have competition!

  23. This sounds awesome. I love the whole crunch effect. This is one to save. And I only save the ones I realistically believe I’ll be trying.

  24. Nancy Shelton says:

    I have a question about the yogurt. Is the greek yogurt plain yogurt or vanilla yogurt? Also on the cream cheese, so if you dont have marscapone you gonna use 5- 8 oz. cream cheeses? Oh my goodness! Thats a lot of cream cheese! That cake looks amazing and I have GOT to try it. I know it wont look as beautiful as yours though. Thanks so much for sharing! Nancy Shelton

    • hi Nancy

      it is plain Greek yogurt, and if you think that’s more frosting than you need, cut back to 4 – 8 oz packs and 1 lb of butter, you will still have enough Thanks for asking!


  25. I’d help ya eat it for sure, Dennis! Its GORGEOUS!!!

  26. Awesome cake for a great cause. Thanks for sharing this cake, Dennis. I love holiday traditions!

  27. Thank you a bazillion times for posting this! My MIL always makes the pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving (I host at my home). I usually prepare some other desserts. I think this would be a lovely alternative…addition?!…to pie! Pinned and stumbled and buzzed and all that jazz!

  28. What an amazing cake!! That is just fabulous. Holiday traditions are just the best aren’t they?? I love looking back over time and thinking about my own and learning about other people’s as well. That cake has me drooling thanks so much for sharing it with us Dennis!

  29. Since you’ve already had marriage proposed, what about an adoption proposal?!?! Can you adopt me? I want to be in your family, and have this as my holiday tradition!

  30. this looks amazing!

  31. This post is wonderful in so many ways.

    Oh how I love the fall. Pumpkins. And the traditions in between 🙂

  32. I will take this cake-even if a few slices are already eaten out of it! This looks even better than carrot cake and I love the crunch topping. I am sure one taste would make even the meanest Scrooge or halloween witch into a lovable individual. I can see the motto now: For recipes that improve upon people’s horrible dispositions go to askchefdennis.com!

  33. Looks awesome!!

  34. Pumpkin is delish enough but throw in some cream cheese frosting and fix me a bed for the night, I could eat this whole cake if I truly tried!
    Take care…

  35. Stunning looking cake and very tasty I’m sure (My hips are growing just looking at it!)

  36. This cake is the King of cakes..love how you made it, and I do love anything pumpkin:)..Nicely done chef…Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful day!!!

  37. Chef, truly stunning cake:)

  38. Looks like a marvelous cake, Dennis! Beautiful!

  39. This looks amazing…

  40. Wow, that is one beautiful cake. If only I could reach through and grab that piece on the plate. 😉

  41. Oh wow, this looks so incredible! Love the crunch!

  42. Holy moly, that looks divine!

  43. Gorgeous layer cake–love the cranberry garnish to add some color!

  44. Be still my heart!! This looks like the best cake EVER!

  45. That looks delicious! I love a nice moist, tall, cake….and the crunchies put it right over the top. I’ll have to try this one!

  46. What a delicious looking cake! I will have to pin this! Thanks for sharing!

  47. This looks heavenly!

  48. We’re already signed up! Thanks so much for spreading the word. The cake looks magnificent.

  49. WOW!! This cake looks delicoius!! I could definitely cut myself a piece of that! Great pictures!

  50. Omg, this cake is gorgeous and looks sinfully delicious! I love pumpkin desserts and can’t wait to try it! Thanks for another great recipe!

  51. This looks amazing Dennis! I am a pumpkin fanatic in any case but add a creamy frosting, some crunch and a whole lot of history and I’m all over it. This will be a definite make for us this year.

  52. Wow I’ve never seen a pumpkin cake like this before. It looks fabulous!

  53. You eat 75% !! LOL . That’s what I do with chocolate cake .. i think i eat almost 90% LOL
    This looks really amazing and perfect celebration treat

  54. Is that seriously three sticks of butter in the topping?! No wonder I like your blog so much!

  55. This cake sounds freaking amazing!!! Seriously I will have to make this for the holidays.

  56. pass me a fork, I want to dive right into this beauty. Sounds DELICIOUS! looks wonderful.

  57. WoW!!! I am so inspired by your cake… It should be delicious… I have just one question, for which size of pan is that recipe?

  58. Oh my goodness, Dennis, I actually gasped when your blog appeared on my screen just now. WHAT A CAKE! It’s a beauty, and it looks delicious! I can see why it landed you a marriage proposal. 🙂 Must try this! Maybe this will be one of my Thanksgiving Day contributions. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  59. This looks fantastic, Dennis. Definitely one of the best looking pumpkin cakes I have ever seen. It sounds like a wonderful holiday dessert. Thanks!

  60. Dennis this is gorgeous and a wonderful addition to any holiday table.

  61. Oh em gee!! This cake has so many of my favorite things in it, pumpkin, cream cheese frosting, walnuts… wonderful!

  62. oh… my…. goodness…. who could blame you for eating 75% of this by yourself??

  63. Pumpkin, cake with crunch?? Yes, I will be right there!!!

  64. Chef!!!
    No need to being told! I”m surely have to make “a copy” of this cake when I have a time to make it to share with friends of mine, just looking at the pic I already knew it! LOL
    I planned to make it this weekend for my friend farewell party becoz I have a taks to make a dessert… lucky me to find this amazing cake, tq chef 🙂
    stunning good looking pumpkin cake and amazing taste I bet! 😉

  65. This cake looks fantastic. At first I thought it was a carrot cake but wow, it just sounds heavenly. I’m curious though, what size cake pan do you use to give it the thickness you like with just one heaping cup of batter into each pan?

  66. Love it. I know what I’ll be doing this weekend. Thanks.

  67. Okay wow, this cake is unreal looking! Woo, it looks SOOOO good! And I browsed through a bunch of all of your other recipes and they are just as mouthwatering. Glad to be to your newest follower!

  68. Dennis, I love the crunch/icing and filling for this cake but my family doesn’t like pumpkin. Do you have a suggestion of a substitute for any other flavor? I thought maybe carrot would work.

    • Carrot would be oh so delicious! The pumpkin is a softer taste, a traditional carrot cake would rock with the crunch filling! If you make one please post it!

  69. I love pumpkin in anything but that cake “takes the cake” no pun intended – lol… I’m putting that on my list of must makes. Thanks for sharing!

  70. I make one cake for Thanksgiving each year that my kids clamor for way beyond any pie. It’s an orange flavored cake with a cream cheese frosting and a garnish of cranberry sauce on top; so seasonal but so not a pumpkin pie either!

    They might like the idea of pumpkin cake and I might have to give this a try1

  71. wow!! it’s look sooo yummyyyy..I need to get it then I’ll try to have some thank you for the good recipe..

  72. I am in love with your Pumpkin Crunch Cake. This is one cake that I will trying very soon 🙂

  73. Another recipe from you that looks AMAZING!! 😀

  74. this looks really good, I love the crunch ingredients 🙂

  75. What a decadent cake! I would be proud to serve this at my holiday gathering.With all those layers one slice would be sure to fill you up.

  76. yummy looking cake and presentation looks wonderful

  77. This is stunning!

  78. this is definitely one gorgeous cake, I can see why it elicits marriage proposals!

  79. What a beautiful cake! This is the kind of recipe that should stay in a family for generations! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  80. I just can’t wait to try out this recipe. Thanks so much for such a grand feast of a dessert!

  81. This looks and sounds so amazing! The crunch topping is what has my mouth watering, and that cake looks so moist!

  82. This is my kind of cake!!!! I love anything pumpkin. And when it’s wrapped up in a huge, gorgeous cake…even better!! Thanks for sharing!!

  83. Crunch topping baked in the layers?? This sounds amazing and I can’t wait to show this baby off at Thanksgiving dinner this year. Perfection. Seriously.

  84. Made this tonight and it was absolutely amazing, incredible, super delicious and sweet. My chocolate loving family loved it too! This may definitely become a family tradition for the holidays too. Thank you so much for sharing such a treat. I think I will have another piece right now! YUM!

  85. I have a really dumb question. I am making this cake today, and want to know, what is a “cake coated cake pan” as listed in the cookie topping section? Like I said, dumb question. Thanks.

    • that’s not it all a dumb question, what you have a sit down the shaft proof read his copy well enough it should we just for prepared cake pans. it’s an incredible cake your going to love it.
      let me know how it turns out

      • Well, it has been a few months – could have sworn I let you know how the cake turned out… time flies, though. Our girls were here for Spring break when I made the cake. EVERY ONE loved it. My older daughter ate it for breakfast, lunch and supper. We DID have to modify it and not use the tree nuts, as our granddaughter is allergic. No matter – it was a HUGE hit. Thanks again for your encouraging words!

  86. Holy Cow, this sounds delicious! I’ll be sharing your recipe on my Facebook page, if you don’t mind…. 🙂

    • Thank you!! and please do share with everyone you can! It is my favorite cake to make and also to eat….I’m like a puppy when I make it though, I eat until I get sick…lol

      thanks for stopping by!

  87. Estoy impresionada con esta deliciosa tarta. Yo también la comería hasta enfermar.

  88. Is it wrong that I want to make this cake just for me, before baking another one to share for the holidays? You know… I have to check to make sure it’s good first. 😉

    Thanks for the recipe! I cannot wait to give this a try.

    • hi Shaun, that’s my problem too, I love this cake too much! I have to start giving it away as soon as I make it or I’ll eat it till I burst! Luckily my neighbors feel the same way and are always eager to help me!

  89. I know I’m a year late but I’m making this right now for some practice before the holidays. I’m confused about the cream cheese frosting. States 1lb 10X sugar?

    • hi Lucy 10x sugar is confectioners sugar, aka powdered sugar. 1 pound is our standard size box. let me know if you have any other questions!

      • thank you, i have never seen it like that (10 X sugar) i learned something….i don’t know what i did wrong but the crunch topping is really stuck after i flip the cake out. it is staying all on the pan. im usually such a good baker with new recipes.

        • the only thing I can think of is that you left them sit in the pan too long to cool. If you ever have doubts that the crunch layer is stuck, next time place the pan directly on a burner briefly to heat the bottom of the pan, this will help release the the cake. This works with any type of cake.

  90. Hi Chef.. I’m Ezz from Malaysia and I love to eat cake filled with a variety of taste .. I have been looking for this pumpkin cake recipe for a long time .. but none of the recipes that I tried to get my attention to try it just from read-only the recipe .. but you have made ​​me fall in love with your cake .. just from see pictures and recipes just got the feeling it was the most delicious cake and I could not wait to try it .. thanks for sharing this recipe along with cake lovers… thanks again .. 🙂

  91. This looks delicious. I’ll be sure to try it soon. Thanks for sharing

  92. Wow! It looks great and makes my mouth waters! I am going to try making it this weekend. Will share with you again.

  93. Hi Chef!
    Do you need to refrigerate the leftovers? I’m excited to make this! (except I think I will half the recipe, that’s a LOTTA cake!)

    • hi Korrie,

      it is a lot of cake, I only make it that big for the effect and to hear everyone ooooh and ahhhh! It would be just as good with just two layers or even smaller layers. I usually do refrigerate the cake only because the cream cheese frosting can get soft and when it’s that big I don’t want layers sliding off…lol but if you make a smaller cake it wouldn’t necessarily need to be refrigerated.
      let me know how it turns out!


  94. Dennis, I’m glad you answered that last comment about cutting the recipe down. With just two of us, half a cake would be more than enough! (Although I come from the same “puppy pound” as you, lol.) By the way, I tried to print your recipe, but my ol’ (as in: obsolete) printer gave up the ghost! It was too much pumpkin yumminess for it to handle, ha! (Bookmarked it instead.) 🙂

  95. beautifully layered cake looks fabulous

  96. This sounds delicious, going to try it for Thanksgiving! I was considering baking this in one large rectangular pan, then cutting it to make 4 layers. What would you suggest for a bake time?

    • hi Alison
      It all depends on how big the pan is, the problem with cooking all that dough and crunch layer in one pan is going to come when you try to remove it and cut it. Since I’ve never baked one that way I would only be guessing on how long to bake it, the other problem I see in a large pan is if the batter is too thick you’ll never get even cooking, and the middle will be raw, while the outer edges are overdone. So I wouldn’t advise trying this cake in a pan large enough to cut 4 layers out of.

      You don’t have to make 4 layers if you would rather just to a two layer cake, cut the recipe in half, you’d be better off that way. Sorry

      • Thank you so much! I think I will go for the 4 layers – go big or go home, right?? 🙂 Can’t wait to try this absolutely delicious sounding cake.

  97. Hi. I attempted to make this cake today for thanksgiving but I think I did something wrong as it did not turn out right. My crunch topping came out as a chewy glob instead of crunchy. I was able to salvage the cake and am just gonna frost that as I don’t wanna start over. I did 3 cups of the nilla wafers. Should it have been 3 cups of the wafer crumbs? Please help.

    • hi Linda

      I’m sorry it didn’t come out, I just got done making two of these cakes following the recipe exactly. I also a video on making the cake, that I just did for google, you can find it on my you tube channel. did the crunch topping under each cake come out ok? I think all you had to do for the one that was chewy might have been to bake it longer. Check out the video, and maybe you can see where the problem was.

      • Served the cake after Thanksgiving dinner tonight. Turned out great even with my mistake. Received several compliments and even had a few people come back for seconds before I finished serving the cake to everyone. Great cake! Thanks for recipe!

        • I’m happy to hear that everyone enjoyed, I hope you give it another try, it truly is an exceptional dessert! Thanks so much for letting me know!

          • Hi Chef

            This cake looks so delicious. Can’t wait to try it this evening. Can I use fresh pumpkin and if so, how much do I use?

          • Hi Naomi
            you can use fresh pumpkin after cooking and draining it your fresh puree should be close to canned and can be substituted 1 for 1. I would just watch the water content in case there is more in your fresh pumpkin

  98. This may well be the best cake I have ever had! A spectacular blend of taste and textures besides being an eye catcher. Absolutely delish!!! The only thing awry for me was my “crunch” mixture on the outside wound up looking like cooked hamburger meat brown in color, not the pumpkin-orange color shown here. Maybe I did something wrong but the taste was all there. No one complained just my critical observation. I might put a little orange food coloring into it the next time to give it a more eye popper. Thanks so much and this is definitely my standing Thanksgiving cake recipe from here on out!

    • hi Ken

      I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed the cake as much as I do. Did you use dark brown sugar or light brown sugar for the crunch topping. It really comes out considerably darker with dark brown.


  99. Hi,

    I’m thinking of making this cake for Christmas, but I’m not a big fan of (at least, strong) cream cheese frosting. Any substitutions I can make that won’t destroy the integrity of this cake?


    • hi Sydney

      using more mascarpone and butter in the mix cutting back the cream cheese will lessen the cream cheese flavor, it will be more of buttercream that way.


      • Thanks so much for getting back to me, Chef, and so quickly! I like mascarpone in tiramisu, but don’t know how the flavor works with other ingredients outside that, but we shall see! I love buttercream frosting but lately when I’ve attempted it, my homemade frostings taste more like butter than buttercream. Not good! Do you have a tried and true buttercream recipe that can’t be messed up?Thanks again!

        • hi Sydney

          I’m afraid I don’t have a go to buttercream, I love cream cheese frosting, and a lot of times I use mousse as the frosting. I just don’t bake enough cakes that call for frosting, most of my other creations are more European and don’t use frosting.

  100. This recipe calls for 12 ozs of butter in the crunch topping, as my cake was baking I found the video, the viseo calls for 6 ozs of butter in the crunch topping so it’s not too greasy ?

    I used the 12 ozs as stated here, that’s a big difference, I hope I didn’t ruin my cake.

    • 12 ounces is correct, I must have made a mistake in the video, sorry for the confusion

      • Thank You ! The cake was a hit, I made it in 3 layers. I also made it the day before the event, which probabaly made slicing easier.

        Being such a heavy, dense cake, I didn’t cut it in wedges, it was cut in slices aproximately, 3″ x 3/4″ thick. I got many, many servings out of this cake and everyone had enough to be satisfied.

        Very good blend of flavors.

  101. kristeen martin says:

    Looks amazing but I am not really a fan of pumpkin. Could I substitute apple filling and apple pie spice for the pumpkin and would I need to decrease the sugar? Thanks so much.

  102. Hey Chef D! Quick question, when you say coat the cake pans…do you suggest coat with nonstick baking pans or parchment paper? I’m making this recipe very soon. Thank you so much!

  103. This cake is to die for and everyone that ate it thought it was one of their top 5 all time cakes that they had tasted. Super rich and sweet and just a thin sliver of cake goes a long way when you cut it! If I were to make it again, I would decrease the butter in the crunch topping, maybe 4 oz of butter less. Personal preference but I found that the remaining topping for the cake was just a tad too greasy for me. After baking, I put it between paper towels and blotted the extra butter away.. I also switched out sour cream for the yogurt as I forgot to buy it at the store and wasn’t going out in the middle of assembling the cake to get it. Quite a presentation this makes when it is all assembled…HEAVY too! Thanks for a great recipe.

  104. Have you ever tried it with gingersnaps rather than vanilla wafers? I think I will. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  105. Fell in love with your Pumpkin Crunch cake last fall. So when I was asked to make a cake for a Veterans Day lunch I said I had the perfect cake recipe I had found online! Little did I know they were going to enter it into a contest! Guess who was sent a blue ribbon!!! I had divided it into two – two layered cakes for ease of serving and decorated them with candied cranberries and silk fall leaves on disposable gold chargers. Afterwards I wish I had taken a picture to send you! Thank you for sharing your yummy treats!

  106. Christine says:

    OMG I love pumpkin everything and this is gorgeous! Can’t wait to try it 🙂 Love to read all the recipes/posts between you and Dionne …

  107. Jolynda Langston says:

    Chef Dennis- I made your cake last night as cupcakes. What a great tasting treat I now have in my repertoire!! I placed a tablespoon of the crunch in the bottom ( I used pecans because I didn’t have walnuts and it was fab!), scooped the batter on top, and sprinkled a bit of crunchy on top before baking. The taste was great! The only problem was that the butter from the crunch leaked out through the cupcake liners and it was rather a greasy mess. Next time I will simply put the crunch on top. So delicious- didn’t even need frosting! I halved the recipe and it made about 16 cupcakes. I had way to much crunch so I tossed the extra in the freezer for future cupcakes! Thanks again for such a great creation- love the flavor and texture combinations 🙂

  108. Chef Dennis,
    I came looking for your Tiramisu recipe and wound up pinning this one. Gorgeous!
    Great tip about releasing the cake from the pan too.

  109. Lisa Smith says:

    Going to try to make this gluten free! Looks wonderful! I’m sure it will pass the test!! : )

  110. This cake looks heavenly, however a member of my family is highly allergic to nuts. Might you have a substitute for the walnuts for the crunchy topping?

    Also, any ideas of how to adjust this recipe for high-altitude baking (5000 ft)?

    • hi Mary

      I’m sorry to say that I don’t have any experience in high altitude baking, but I would think if you treated it like any of the other recipes you’ve made it should turn out. As for the Walnuts, I racked my brain trying to think of another crunchy item you could replace it with and the only thing I could think of might be granola, although I have no idea how it would work or taste. Possibly some type of seed might work too, but I’ve only made this recipe with walnuts or pecans so I can’t offer any workable solution.

      • Thanks so much! I’ll try the granola and let you know how it works!


        • Mary – my granddaughter is also allergic to nuts, so I left out the walnuts as well. The cake tasted great with just the vanilla wafers in the “crunch” topping. I have since learned to use graham crackers as an alternative. Store-bought vanilla wafers no longer have “real” vanilla in them. Time to read labels, again. There are some good recipes for homemade vanilla wafers, too.

  111. I made this cake last year and it has been requested again. I was thinking of making into cupcakes…but am not that experienced of a baker. Do you have any advice on the cake to cupcake conversion? I imagine it might not have to cook as long…will everything else work as is listed in the recipe?
    Thanks for your help and an awesome recipe.

    • hi Lucille and I’m happy to hear you enjoyed my cake. I had a freind recently make the cake into cupcakes and I believe she add the crunch to the top layer of the cupcake . You could also add more after frosting as well to dress it up a bit. I would cook them about the same time you do you other cupcakes
      Let me know how they turn out

  112. I made your pumpkin cake in September…LOVED IT! For some reason, your name didn’t click when I visited your website for the cake till I went to make your rustic bread! I love the bread and make it all the time. I guess because I printed it out and didn’t actually visit the website till now (lost the bread recipe to spilled milk), did I realize you were one and the same! Thank you for 2 of my favorite recipes and look forward to many more I am sure.

  113. This cake is awesome!! I never try out new recipes on guests, but I did last night when I served this cake at a dinner party. Everybody loved it! My husband actually ate a total of three slices before the night was over and he is not usually much of a cake-eater! This cake is definitely going to be the one I serve for all special occasions from now on. The only thing I will change is to make just one half of the crunch topping since the full amount made a lot more than I needed. Even so, I put the extra crumbs in the freezer (before baking) and will use them for a cookie crumb pie shell!

  114. Hi

    this looks amazing!
    I have 2 questions

    1. recipe says 8 oz butter for topping – in above comments I see 6oz and 12oz referenced – could you clarify which it is?

    2. can i make the layers ahead a freeze for 4 days later? and can i make the filling ahead a refrig for the same?

    Thank you so much.

    • hi Cindy

      sorry it took so long to answer, I must have missed this earlier. The cake freezes very nicely so it can be done ahead of time, and the filling will hold up very well in the refrigerator for at least a week, although you may need to get it out to warm up, or re whip it before spreading.

      and it is 8 oz butter for the topping.


      • I made this ahead of time and froze it – put it together the day I served it – It was amazing and got rave reviews – thank you!!!!!

  115. Rena Diego says:

    I love food, esp sweets and love making people happy with food too! I’m going to try this recipe for my family’s thanksgiving gatherings and hope I’m successful! I hope that it turns out as beautiful as this cake looks! I’m determined…and can’t wait to try it! Thank you for a creative recipe and a beautiful dish! I’m not a chef but hope to one day have my own business where I could do what I love everyday…bake! I’ll rate it once I’m done making it…tomorrow!

  116. What type of cookies? Like a nilla cookie?

  117. I am so proud of this cake as this is my 2nd time to make it! My first one the crunch was dark which I must have used dark brown sugar instead of light. This one is picture perfect just like the photo here. I took it to the office to keep for our Thanksgiving dinner tonight and everyone is oohing and ahhing and just freaking out over it. I keep taking the lid off the cake carrier and waving the lid as the intoxicating smell of the crunch with it’s butter, brown sugar and vanilla wafers draws everyone by it’s essence. It is such a huge cake that I know we will have some left and I have promised the office people I will return with some for them. Chef Dennis – You are a genius! I love this recipe! Thank you!

  118. Can this be made a night before

  119. I made this cake and it was a hit! I did a few things differently:
    1.) blend the cookies to crumbs and then measure to 3 cups and put in a bowl.
    2.) put pecans bits in blender and just pressed the pulse button twice for a second and poured in bowl with cookies.
    3.) only put 2 packed cups of brown sugar into crust mix..next time I’d cut it to 1.5. 3 cups didn’t work and 2 was still sweet – almost perfect, but sweet.
    4.) Melt 8 oz unsalted butter for 1 min 30 sec and add.
    Mix all together with a whisk and press 1 cup (not packed) on bottom of ea pan. Put remaining crust in greased 13×9 pan and bake for 15 mins tossing every 5 mins.

    Cake recipe was perfect!
    Cream cheese frosting was perfect with 3 8oz cream cheese…sift the powder sugar to avoid clumps.

  120. Hi Chef Dennis! Well, I saw this cake a year ago and have been following all the questions/comments since. Funny to see how the questions die down marking the end of the holiday season and how they start revving up again in the new year. Well, this year I finally had the chance to give this cake a go myself! And I’m quite proud of myself. I’ll really find out how I did tomorrow (Thanksgiving) but I made a mini tester cake (a good chef always taste tests, right? ;). The cake was so moist with just the right balance of pumpkin. I’ll see how the frosting holds up. I don’t like strong cream cheese frosting so I only used 8oz. of cream cheese, the marscapone and butter. This made it come out a little too buttery so I tried to cut the butter flavor w an extra cup of confectioners sugar. But I think next time, I would double the marscapone. The baked crumbs came out a little dark bc I really wanted them to be crunchy. I don’t mind that, but they were pretty greasy so I guess I’d only use 2 sticks of butter next time. Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Sydney: my crust/crumb came out dark too but it’s not the butter it’s the amount of cookies and sugar . You may not have put enough vanilla wafers. If you measure the cookie crumbs after you crumb it, it comes out to far more than 75 cookies…more like a whole bag full needed. I had to redo my first batch because it was too dark and buttery. Also whisk the crust ingredients it makes it perfect. In regards to your icing…make sure the butter and cheese is a little colder than room temp when you whip …when it’s too warm it will butter up not whip. Thought I’d share my trial and errors. Happy thanksgiving!

      • Rena,

        Thanks so much for all the great advice! I wrote your notes down on the recipe for when I plan on making it again. 🙂 You’re probably right about the cookies, because I didn’t actually have enough in the first place and knew it, but went with it anyway. I had only bought 1 tub of vanilla wafers from Trader Joe’s and counted them. It only came out to about 50 cookies (after eating a few, lol) so next time I’ll buy 2 tubs. Thanks also for the frosting tips. I love baking but homemade frosting is my downfall. I just haven’t gotten it down yet – and the butter temperature probably has a lot to do with it, so good advice!

        Well, thanks again and enjoy the holidays!


      • Rena Diego says:

        Sydney: you’re welcome! When u decrese the sugar in the crust to 1.5 packed cups increase your crumbs and nuts by .5 cups each…I did an extra 1 cup pecans to my crust becuz I didn’t have enough wafers and it was delicious! But nuts are more expensive than wafers so next time I’d increase dry ingredients up to 1 cup (either 1 cup wafers or 1 cup nuts or .5 of each). If you are having trouble with the icing you can also make it without the butter and do 4 times this recipe: 8 oz cream cheese. 1/3 cup powder sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla. I use this icing for my fruit pizza.

        You can also use the box of Nilla Wafers from the grocery store. This is a costly cake to make.

        • Rena Diego says:

          Sydney: in the icing recipe you can increase the powder sugar if you’d like it more sweet (with the recipe i posted). Also, I recommend unsalted butter in all your baking recipe…if you google it tells you ” unsalted butter should always be used in baking. The reason for this is that salt toughens the glutens in flour.” I have always used unsalted butter, expensive, but perfects dishes…when i use salted butter it always tends to melt down and not whip up…on that note, make sure you are using the right mixing head…to be on the safe side use the flat beater and not the wire whip when mixing butter.

          • Rena, thanks again. I will make note of the sugar/cookie/nut ratio, but will probably use more wafers than nuts ($ like you said). I chose TJ’s vanilla wafers because they still seem to use wholesome ingredients (i.e no partially hydrogenated oil) compared to the old-fashioned box of vanilla wafers that I have always loved, but feel too guilty buying now. I even went as far as making my own once for a trifle just to avoid the processed ones, lol. Thanks for the unsalted butter tip. I think I had read something about that, but honestly just use whatever I happen to have. I just looked at the box and it turns out I did end up using unsalted butter for the frosting, a fortunate accident. The frosting wasn’t too bad, I suppose, and people loved the cake (one person said it was better than a restaurant 🙂 and I’m blown away by how moist it is (!) but I just personally found my frosting a bit too buttery/cream cheesy.

            Well, thank you and Chef Dennis again. I doubt too many recipes get this kind of dialogue going, it’s really interesting. Thank you, Chef Dennis for this learning forum! Happy Holidays!

  121. More delicious that I could have hoped for! Thank you for the recipe! It is scrumptious! I didn’t have vanilla wafers so I used Gingerbread boy cookies. The crumbles got a little over done but it added a nice crunchy brittle-like flavor. The cake is even better the second day. It slid around a bit at first so I used skewers to secure it. I will make this again. It was a big hit! Thank you again.

    • thanks for letting me know Ann, I do have the same problem with the sliding part when I try to frost it too soon, I usually let the frosting chill first and it stays together easier. I do love that cake!

      • Ok, thank you for the tip! I will do that! I am so hungry for this cake again, I am going to make it for Christmas! Even my kids agree its a do over! Love it! Thank you for the winning recipe!

  122. Rena Diego says:

    Chef Dennis,

    I’ve never baked with walnuts before because I love pecans. I made your cake with pecans and it was a hit, but I found that walnuts are cheaper…does the walnuts become candy flavored with your recipe like pecans do? I’m skeptical about using walnuts thinking it will have that slight after taste…pls let me know what your thoughts are on the difference of the nuts with baking.



    • hi Rena

      I’ve used both nuts as well, but mostly walnuts and have never noticed any aftertaste. I think the brown sugar caramelizes and the bitterness becomes sweeter and more acceptable as a contributing flavor.


  123. I made this cake last night and brought it in for a work holiday party, and let me tell you it was one of the best flavor cakes I have ever made……..The frosting is the perfect fit for the this type of cake. The layers were so beautiful and the crumbs was so delish! It makes a lot of crumbs, but it’s okay because I plan on making this cake again for Christmas Day. PERFECT AND DELISH! Glad I ran into this recipe on Google. Thank you Chef Dennis! For sure saving your website as one of my favs!

    • Thank you so much for letting me know that your cake turned out well Rebecca, I’m making one for Christmas as well, and I love having left over crunchies and frosting to add to my slices…lol…
      If you’re looking for another dessert to wow your friends take a look at my Tiramisu recipe, its really not difficult and simply amazing!

      Happy Holidays!

  124. John Benning says:

    I recently made the pumpkin cream crunch cake and everyone loved it. I did not have wallnuts so I substituted chopped pecans. I also halved the sugar in the cream cheese/marscapone frosting as my wife prefers a “less sweet” cake.

    It was a real treat. Thanks!

  125. Carla Harrison says:

    Just finished eating the first piece of this cake! My husband says this is the best cake I have baked in a lng time! What a great recipe….and so unique. Thank you for sharing! This cake is fabulous!

    • hi Carla

      thank you so much for letting me know you and your husband enjoyed the cake! I just made one for Christmas and wowed my guests, you gotta love it!!
      Best wishes for a very Healthy and Happy New Year!

  126. During the holidays, I made Chef Dennis’s Pumpkin Crunch Cake for one party & his Tiramisu for another. They were both fantastic! I made my own Lady Fingers & mascarpone for both recipes. Everyone, about 26 people, raved about them.. I have become your follower as you seem to prepare the kinds of dishes I like to make for guests. Thank you so much for posting these recipes. They are keepers!

  127. This is absolutely the BEST> CAKE>EVER>! I served it for the first time this past Christmas and is now the new and much requested tradition. The cake was served BEFORE the Christmas meal. Due to small kitchen quarters it took me five hours (of love and devotion) to prepare this cake. Seven more months…. I am ready!!!!

  128. Anne Mouton says:

    Hi Dennis. I am from South Africa. I have 2 questions. I dont find Pumpkin Pie Spice on our supermarket shelves. What mixture of spice is it? Is it cinnamon or which spices should I combine? Also what exactly is vanilla wafers…….. is it a baked kind of biscuit or cookie? I want to try this recipe but scared I might spoil it if I dont use the right ingredients. I am allergic to nuts but will make it for my family. I love to treat my hubby. We just had our 30th anniversary !

    • Hi Anne

      you can use cinnamon and nutmeg in place of the pumpkin pie spice and as for vanilla wafers aka Nilla wafer its a cookieits a vanilla flavored wafer style cookie, shortbread cookies would work intead


  129. Oh Chef! Thank you for such a great recipe. I made it twice in the last 24 hours. One for my family and after I tasted it, I had to share with my friends so baked up another. The crunchy topping is so yummy – nutty, butterscotchy, and almost graham cracker-like but better -waaay better – and goes well with the moist pumpkin cake. The flavors were so good together. And the frosting! Mmmm. Never made cream cheese frosting with mascarpone before – it added to the creaminess and mellowed the sweetness of the powdered sugar. Might make a 3rd cake for the weekend. Thank you!

  130. I’ve cooked many cakes in my day, but in no way consider myself a baker. This cake changed my life and the lives of many others. Let me preface by saying I don’t even like cake. I enjoy baking and watching my cake loving husband enjoy. I ate this cake and I ate at least 5 pieces. Never happens. The delish cake with a perfect amount of cream cheese and crunch!! I served last night at an early Thanksgiving dinner and EVERYONE raved about this cake! It’s delish and gorg! I followed the recipe exactly. I screwed up by inverting the cake pans while cooling…… Don’t do! I had no problem getting the crumb layer and cake out after spraying with loads of Pam. Seriously the bomb and life altering!! THANK YOU DENNIS!!!!!

  131. Chef…I made this cake on Thanksgiving and now making it again for Christmas. It was sooo amazing, that my family members had at least two slices per day till it was devoured. It only took 2 days! LOL! The texture, the crunch, the smell and the crunchiness all made this cake possibly the best we’ve ever had and I am proud to say that I made it, (from your receipe, of course!)

  132. I want to make this cake, but was wondering if all of the crunch mixture could be baked separate from the cake and added to the layers after the cakes are baked. This would avoid the mixture sticking in the pans. Or would parchment paper in the pan help release the sticky part from the baked cakes?

    • Brenda, the only time you have issues with the cake sticking is when you let it sit too long cooling. The easiest way to remedy that is to place the cake pan on a hot burner of your stove for about 5 seconds and the heat will help release the cake.
      You can of course do it the way you asked, I just don’t know how this cake recipe would respond. If you plan on cooking the crunch separate, I would use one of your go to pumpkin spice cake recipes instead of my cake recipe for the layers.

      You could of course use parchment paper to avoid them sticking.

  133. Just wondering how long the ‘crunch’ stays…well….crunchy. Has anyone let this cake sit for more than just a few hours? I’m serving this cake tomorrow night and I’m wondering if I’ll just have a soggy mess if I add the crunch on the outside tonight. Maybe I’ll just cook the crunch now and add it before guests arrive.

  134. I must be blind cuz ive looked a zillion times and still cant find what size pans the recioe calls out for.


  1. […] and gentlemen feast your eyes on beauty that is PUMPKIN CRUNCH CAKE brought to us by Chef […]

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  8. […] Oh my gosh. I haven’t even tasted it and I’m about to ask you to marry me! Hubby won’t mind, I promise. He’ll just ask for a slice as well. Wow, it’s gorgeous. I can well imagine how this cemented your marriage proposal if it was at the engagement party. For more details please visit this link : askchefdennis […]

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