Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A bit of sweet ginger, spice, crunch and over-the-top flavor in every bite. When I spotted this recipe, I instantly saw a winning holiday cake – it’s moist, full of pumpkin and spices, and the browned butter adds a deep and almost nutty flavor to the cake and cream cheese frosting. Since I love to take a recipe and make it over, I realized that adding more layers along with a bit more spice and flavoring would add even more dazzle to this spectacular dessert.

Making this cake takes more time than most cakes. You may want to make the topping ahead of time and even make the cake a day in advance of serving. This cake will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Pepitas are pumpkin seeds. When seeds are fresh from a pumpkin, each green seed is encased in a beige, slightly tough but edible hull. When the hull is removed, the dark green seed is revealed. Pepitas have a deliciously delicate nutty flavor, which is even better when the seeds are roasted and salted.
Recipe type: Dessert | Butter Layer Cake
Serves: 10 to 12
Ingredients
Batter:
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1½ cups fresh pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • ⅔ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅓ cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Topping:
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1½ cups pecan halves
  • 1 cup unsalted, raw, hulled pepitas
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced crystallized ginger
Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 11 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3½ cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two 9 inch round layer cake pans; lightly grease the pans with shortening and dust with flour. Tip: to make baked cake easier to remove from pan, lightly grease the pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, and then lightly grease the top of the parchment paper and dust the pan with flour.
Batter:
  1. To brown the butter for the cake batter, cut the butter into 1 inch pieces and place in a medium heavy saucepan over low heat to melt. Once melted, increase the heat to medium. Cook the butter until it begins to simmer, and then continue cooking, swirling the pan frequently, until the butter turns a nutty golden brown, about 4 minutes. As soon as the butter turns a golden brown immediately remove the pan from the heat as it will burn quickly at this point. Pour the hot butter into a small bowl, leaving as much of the browned solids in the saucepan as possible. Set the bowl of butter aside to cool, about 15 minutes. Discard the browned solids left in the saucepan.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg; sift or whisk together to mix. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla; using a wire whisk, whisk together to thoroughly mix. Add the flour mixture, whisk until thoroughly mixed. Add the cooled butter, gently whisk until completely incorporated.
  4. Bake: Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with the back of a large spoon. Bake 25 to 28 minutes or until a long toothpick, wooden skewer, or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place pans on a wire cooling rack to cool for 10 to 15 minutes then remove cake from the pans and place the cake on the wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
Topping:
  1. Place the butter in a large cast iron skillet or other heavy skillet over low heat to melt. Add the pecans and pepitas; increase the heat to medium and cook about 2 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon so the mixture toasts evenly and until the pecans are lightly browned and the pepitas brown and begin to pop. Sprinkle the brown sugar and salt over the top and stir until the sugar melts and the pecans and pepitas are glazed, about 2 minutes. Stir in the ginger. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to let the mixture cool to room temperature. Tip: if making the topping in advance, place cooled mixture in an airtight container until ready to use.
Frosting:
  1. To brown the butter for the frosting, cut the butter into 1 inch pieces and place in a medium heavy saucepan over low heat to melt. Once melted, increase the heat to medium. Cook the butter until it begins to simmer, and then continue cooking, swirling the pan frequently, until the butter turns a nutty golden brown, about 4 minutes. As soon as the butter turns a golden brown immediately remove the pan from the heat as it will burn quickly at this point. Pour the hot butter into a small bowl, leaving as much of the browned solids in the saucepan as possible. Discard the browned solids left in the saucepan. Set the bowl of butter aside to cool to room temperature, then place the bowl in the refrigerator or freezer and cool just until slightly firm but not hard.
  2. Using a spoon, carefully scrape the cooled butter from the bowl, leaving any browned solids at the bottom; discard the browned solids.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine browned butter, cream cheese, milk vanilla, and brown sugar; use an electric hand mixer or wooden spoon and beat together until mixture is smooth and the brown sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes. Add powdered sugar; beat until frosting is smooth, creamy, and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Assembly:
  1. Using a long kitchen knife, split each cake into 2 horizontal layers.
  2. Place one of the layers on a cake plate. Using an offset spatula spread ½ cup of the frosting on the layer and sprinkle ½ cup of the topping evenly over the frosting. Repeat with the second and third layers. Place the last cake layer on top. Cover the sides and top of the cake with the remaining frosting.
  3. Garnish with some of the pecans around the side of the cake if desired and sprinkle the remaining topping around the top edge of the cake.
  4. Cover cake and refrigerate until ready to serve. Refrigerate leftovers.
Source: Fine Cooking, September 2010
Recipe Notes
Pan: Two 9" Round Layers Pan Prep: Greased and floured Oven Temp: 350° Storage: Cover and Refrigerate

Tip: Pepitas are sold and with or without hulls, salted and unsalted. Look for hulled pepitas in many grocery stores and natural food stores. I recommend buying pepitas already hulled; you can hull the seeds yourself by cracking and peeling off the hulls, but this is a tedious task.

Help: Cake Hints and Tips

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Recipe by at https://thebakingpan.com/recipes/cakes/brown-butter-pumpkin-cake/