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I decided to mix pumpkin pie filling into a mixture of spice cake mix. I mixed the filling in well and in every try, the filling stays in the middle, with the cake moving to the outside.

I am wondering why this happens and if there is a way to control this separation, since I am seeing more cake moving to the top and just a thin layer on the bottom.

Update: I did not alter the cake recipe and i just pored the pie filling directly from the can into the completely mixed cake mix. Mixed them together and pored into the pan. I did not change the baking time or temperature.

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Is your "pumpkin pie filling" just the canned spiced pumpkin puree? And is it separating during baking? – Jefromi Mar 12 '12 at 23:04
@Jefromi yes and yes. – Paul Mar 13 '12 at 0:43
I neglected to ask: did you prepare the mix as normal, or did you compensate for the addition of pumpkin by removing oil/water? (Not sure how your mix works.) – Jefromi Mar 13 '12 at 16:20
There are recipes for pumpkin cake (or bread, or muffins). I'd start with one of those, and add the desired spices, rather than the other way around. Or maybe mix a pumpkin cake and spice cake recipe. – Flimzy Mar 14 '12 at 4:11

I wonder if this has something to do with the density of the cake vs the pie filling. This may be a similar phenomenon as when chocolate chips or nuts sink to the bottom of a brownie during cooking.

I am not entirely sure how to solve this but one thing to try would be to mix the pie filling with the wet ingredients for the spice cake mix and then mix it all together. My hypothesis is that the pie filling isn't incorporated into the cake mix well enough (even though it may look well incorporated) and mixing it with the wet ingredients thoroughly may allow the eggs (i'm assuming eggs were involved) to set the mixture as a whole more evenly.

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there are only 2 ingredients cake mix and pumpkin pie filling nothing else. – user21419 Nov 21 '13 at 22:39
@user21419 There's at least one more, a liquid. There might be eggs too, unless they're part of the cake mix, but the OP did say he prepared the cake mix then added the pumpkin. – Jefromi Nov 22 '13 at 1:28

This is similar to replacing eggs in a cake with applesauce. That ratio is about 1/4 cup of applesauce to 1 egg. On a basic level, applesauce is simply an apple puree. That's pretty much what pumpkin is as well. So try reducing the number of eggs based on the aforementioned ratio.

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I don't see 1) why it should be similar - pumpkins don't have the high pectin content of apples, so not much binding and 2) if it is similar, why it would separate, after all high-egg batters don't separate. – rumtscho Mar 16 '12 at 1:41

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