Monday, January 30, 2012

Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake

 I know, many of you will think that pumpkin is so Fall like, but my husbands birthday was last week and he really wanted a pumpkin cake. I've had this cake bookmarked for quite a while, so decided to try it now. I wanted to make a special cake for my sweetie, who's getting older and wiser, and who does not always share my chocoholic tendencies. This cake did not disappoint. In fact we both thought it was one of, if not the best cake we've ever tasted! Being a pumpkin cake, it is dense and moist and the browned butter in the cake, AND in the Cream Cheese Frosting, makes this a "To Die For", dessert! The frosting also has brown sugar in it and it's delicious.We couldn't quit groaning as we shoveled it in. You've got this cinnamony, gingery, spice flavored cake with the browned butter, cream cheese combination that's just amazing. In short, this is a keeper. Can't wait to try making cupcakes.
 I changed the recipe some. I increased the cinnamon in the cake batter, and decreased the ginger. I decreased the brown sugar just a bit, but now I don't think I needed to. I thought the cake might be too sweet because I planned on increasing the frosting, but it was just fine. I knew that the amount of frosting wouldn't be enough, so I increased that. I also did not do the nut topping like the recipe. I just used some roasted pecans that I tossed with butter, sugar and a little salt and then decorated the cake rim. The next time I make this cake, I'm going to add some chopped pecans between the cake layer, like the recipe suggests. While this cake and the frosting use brown butter, this is not a hard cake to make. It does require a bit more time, so it would be best to make it early in the day, or make the cake layers the day before and then wrap them in plastic wrap. Then assemble the next day. Either way, this Browned Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake is worth the trouble.  Delicious, decadent, addictive and so much more; it's a cake to dream about. I hope you'll give it a try.

Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake

For the cake:
3/4 cup, (12 tablespoons),  unsalted butter
2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar - originally calls for  2/3 cup
2 large eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 can of pumpkin puree, or homemade puree

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Move the oven rack to center of the oven.
2. Grease and flour 2 round cake pans that are 9x2 inches. Use parchment if desired. My cake did fine without it.
3. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat. Every minute or so, stir or roll the butter around. The butter will foam and begin to turn a nutty shade with bits of brown . This will take about 4 minutes. Pour into a bowl and cool.
4. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.  In another bowl, combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, buttermilk, sugar, pumpkin and mix well.
5. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients together in intervals. Mix in the brown butter. Do not over mix this batter. You will not need and electric mixer for this cake.
6. Divide the batter evenly into the 2 cake pans and smooth the top. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes until done. Toothpick inserted into cake should come out clean. Cool the cake in pans for 10 minutes. Run knife around the cake and invert onto cooling racks. Cool completely.

Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting:
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup light brown sugar
3 cups powdered sugar

1. In a heavy pan, brown the butter just as you did for the cake. Pour into a small bowl, and set it in the freezer for 12-15 minutes. Don't let it get hard on the top. Butter needs to be cool to add to the frosting, but don't let it get too hard. Or, you could pour the butter through a small mesh sieve to catch the small browned bits. You won't pour the brown bits into the frosting. Take a spoon and spoon out the cooled butter, taking care to not scrape up the browned bits.
2. In a large bowl, cream the cream cheese well; mix in the brown sugar and beat until fluffy. Mix in the cooled brown butter, and the powdered sugar in with the cream cheese. Beat until creamy. If the frosting is too stiff, add about a tablespoon of cream, or milk.

Assemble and frost the cake:
Place one cake on your cake plate. Add about 1 cup frosting, or your desired amount, and spread evenly to the edge of cake. Place remaining cake on top of frosting. Frost sides and top of cake. Decorate with pecans.

For Pecans: Mix 1 cup pecans, tablespoon melted butter, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Toast in a skillet for a few minutes, or in the oven. Cool nuts completely on a paper towel lined plate. The original recipe calls for more nuts, and uses them between the layers of the cake, and then piling the rest on top of cake. It also calls for candied ginger, which I did not use.


  1. This cake looks so delicious. My husband would enjoy this too. I'm sure since he loves cream cheese frosting he would ask me to add coconut flavoring since he loves that in his frostings!

  2. Why is it that brown butter seems to make everything taste better? I think a spiced pumpkin cake works all the way through April (and then I'd give it a rest). And it looks so festive and hearty. I'd count it as a vegetable.

  3. Gorgeous cake Lynda! They say brown always equals flavor and I bet with brown butter, this cake has it all!

  4. I love pumpkin cake... this looks beautiful and delicious!

  5. You are a recipe tweaker like me! I love pumpkin desserts and I think it should be served all year round. The browned butter with spices in this cake is sounding very good right now.

  6. Wow, this looks like an amazing cake, Lynda!!! Beautifully garnished, too...a winner! And I'm eying those dulce de leche cheesecake bars in your side bar...WOW.

  7. Looks fantastic! I'll have to save the recipe to make next fall... not quite ready to dive back to pumpkin yet.

  8. Happy Birthday to your hubs! So nice that he's getting older and wiser. The cake looks like a fabulous way to celebrate.

  9. Oh my goodness! This sounds amazing! I love pumpkin anytime. I think my husband would go crazy for this. Happy birthday to your hubby:)

  10. What a lovely cake. It looks like it has wonderful texture and the ingredient combo you've used guarantees it will be delicious. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  11. I am glad you posted a pumpkin recipe, I still like to make pumpkin recipes all winter. My daughter will love this one, and I like the changes that you made. I always incress the amount of cinnamom in recipes and usually skip the nuts.

  12. i'm definitely not done with pumpkin yet! this is a great cake, lynda, and the frosting is probably on my list of top five!


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