Flavors of Autumn Cake and Pastry Fillings

Flavors of Autumn Cake and Pastry Fillings

When harvest comes each year the mature crops are gathered from the fields marking the end of the growing season. The bounty is revered with social importance; a reward for months of hard labor, igniting celebration, gatherings of thanks, peace and good will. And while one season concludes, another unfolds with vim and seemingly reckless abandon. In the food world we call it the baking season.

The flavors of fall represent a broad palette for bakers to use as expression on the culinary canvas. Whether the flavors are sweet, savory, spicy or nutty, the possibilities for a tasty creation are potentially unlimited. Today I’ll share a few ways to spark your inner baker into thinking about those possibilities.

The three opportunities to celebrate autumnal flavors are: Cranberry Orange, Pumpkin Spice and Maple Pecan. They arrive to you in the form of fillings for cakes, pastries or whatever you can dream up. Individually, or paired with other complementary flavors, the fillings will surely inspire. Now all you have to do is get baking!

Flavors of Autumn Cake and Pastry Fillings

Prep Time: varies

Yield: varies

Serving Size: varies

Flavors of Autumn Cake and Pastry Fillings

Use these scrumptious autumn recipes as fillings in your holiday cakes, pastries and baked goods. Full of seasonal flavor, their uses are full of possibilities!


    Cranberry Orange Filling:
  • 1 12-ounce package fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • zest of one orange
  • juice of half an orange
  • 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier Liqueur
  • Pumpkin Spice Filling:
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup apple juice (or cider)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Scant 1/4 teaspoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • Maple Pecan Filling:
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup pecans lightly toasted and chopped medium-fine
  • Pinch of salt


    For the Cranberry Orange filling:
  • Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; add cranberries, orange zest and juice. Return the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a slow boil, stirring occasionally for 8 minutes. Add the Grand Marnier, stir it in and boil for 2 minutes longer, but no more. Remove from heat. Transfer to a storage container and cover with plastic wrap pressing it to the surface of the cranberry mixture (helps to prevent skin formation) and cool completely at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until use. Filling can be made 3 days in advance. This recipe yields approximately 2 cups. In essence, this is the cranberry sauce I make every year for Thanksgiving; it stores well refrigerated for several days or freeze. It is yummy spread on scones and sandwiches. In case you're wondering, yes, you may be heavy-handed with the GM measurement—I usually am!
  • To make the Pumpkin Spice Filling:
  • Combine the first seven ingredients in a saucepan; stir until incorporated. Bring the mixture to a slow boil over medium heat. Reduce heat, and simmer stirring frequently until thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the butter and lemon, stirring it in until well combined. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate. May be made 3 days in advance. Essentially this is a pumpkin butter; the recipe makes approximately 1 3/4 cups. Leftovers are delicious on toast or added to your favorite pancake or waffle batter.
  • Maple Pecan Filling:
  • Place the egg in a saucepan. Stir in the milk, sugar, maple, butter and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until bubbly and thickened—about 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in the pecans. Cool thoroughly and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. May be made up to 3 days in advance. Yields approximately 1 1/2 cups). Try gently reheating the leftover and spoon over the top of vanilla bean ice cream. Enough said.


  1. Fantastic and timely information. Love this, thanks for sharing, Brooks!

    • Brooks Walker says

      My pleasure, Dan. Versatility is key in the kitchen and the threshold to creativity. I’d bet you’d come up with something wonderful.

  2. You know, I’ve never before considered the layer between my cakes as a canvas for such deliciousness. I think I’ll start with the pumpkin spice one. 🙂

  3. What a great resource, Brooks! I’d love to try all three fillings…but it’s going to be very hard to decide which to use first!

  4. Love these fillings, Brooks. Variations on a Theme of Brooks’ delicious ideas!

  5. Evyone Pike says

    Thank you so much! I am making an olive cake for my daughters fall wedding. No icing just dusted with icing sugar and a fall filling!

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