Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake

I love fall.  If I had to pick my favourite season, fall would win hands down.  Crisp mornings, hikes through the bush and markets full of pumpkins, squash and apples.

I love fall baking too.   Spicy flavours and smells fill the kitchen.   We tend to gravitate towards  cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves, as these seem to be the flavours associated to this time of year.

I don’t know if I told you this but my mom makes the BEST pumpkin pie ever.  It just happens to be my favourite flavour of pie.  But I have to say, and mom I hope you’re not listening, that this cake might just have put your pie in the running.

I can’t believe I just typed that out loud.

I’m not kidding.  This is one of the most moist cakes I have ever eaten.  It has all of the flavours of a pumpkin pie in a dense yet light cake.   With Candied Pecans sprinkled throughout.  And Brown Sugar Cream Cheese on each layer?

Pure pumpkin bliss.

What’s your favourite thing about fall?

Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake

*adapted from

* grease and flour two 6 x 3 inch cake pans, set oven temp to 350 degrees

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  •  2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  •  1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
  •  1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  •  1 tsp. ground ginger
  •  3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  •  1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  •  2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  •  2 large eggs, room temperature
  •  1/3 cup buttermilk. room temperature

1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally (butter will begin to foam a bit) until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown, about 4 minutes.  Let cool while preparing other ingredients.

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt,nutmeg and cloves.  In a large bowl, whisk 1-1/2 cups of the pumpkin purée with the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and buttermilk until well blended.   Stir in the flour mixture just until combined. Gently whisk in the brown butter until completely incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.

3.  Bake the cakes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto racks, remove the pan bottoms or parchment, and cool completely.

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Icing

  • 2 cups dark brown sugar , firmly packed
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 500 grams of cream cheese, cold

1.  Beat butter and brown sugar until smooth.  Add cold cream cheese and beat just until blended.  Cream cheese icing is easier to work with when the cream cheese is added cold.

Candied Pecans

  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar

1.  Mix together the pecans, brown sugar and cream.  Spread over a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes, stirring once.

Cake Assembly

1.  I usually let cake layers chill in the freezer for at least an hour before cutting.  Then, using a serrated knife, cut both cakes into layers.  You’ll have one extra layer to freeze for later or nibble on whilst you decorate.

2.  Place a layer on your cake plate, then spread a thick layer of cream cheese frosting.  Sprinkle some chopped candied pecans on top of the icing.  Repeat with the next layer.  Add the final layer and frost the entire cake.

3.  Once the whole cake is frosted, chill for a few hours before serving.  Sprinkle and decorate with the remaining pecans.



Filed under Cake, Fondant and Icing

27 responses to “Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake

  1. I would love to make this cake but the problem I have here in New Zealand is that I can’t find pumpkin puree in a can and so have to buy a whole pumpkin and struggle with cutting it to boil up the flesh and puree it. I do make the effort though for various recipes and this could be one of them. By the way, I can’t see any pumpkin in the list of ingredients.

    • Oh boy! How did I miss the most important ingredient? Oh well, all fixed up. Thanks for letting me know!
      I did roast my own pie pumpkin for this recipe. I usually cut the pumpkin in half, seed it and roast it at 350 degrees for about an hour. Then scoop out the pumpkin puree! I prefer it to canned pumpkin.

    • Jen

      I usually live in NZ but I am in California for 6 months, and it is so funny reading your reply Suzanne, because the first thing I thought when I saw this recipe was ‘Yes! I can make this easily now as I can buy canned pureed pumpkin!!’ I hate how in NZ you can’t buy canned pumpkin. I often will do quite a lot of it in one go, if I am making pumpkin pie in NZ, puree more than I need, and freeze the remainder for future recipes.

      The funny thing is that in NZ, we find so many other uses for pumpkin – soup, roast veges, salads etc. Family friends in Texas couldn’t comprehend the idea of pumpkin soup. They just think of pumpkin pie and other sweet recipes!

  2. Fall is my favorite season, too!! Renee, this cake looks delicious!! I have one question, though. In the recipe you say to wisk 1 1/2 cups of the pumpkin puree, but I don’t see anything about pumpkin puree in the list of ingredients…..

  3. This really is one gorgeous looking cake. I can almost smell all the warm spices and pumpkin:). That frosting looks wonderful coated with the candied pecans too!

  4. Oooh – I love the sound of brown sugar cream cheese frosting. I hope I have a function come up that needs this cake!

  5. Looks amazing!! Might give this a try this weekend. Thanks for sharing.

  6. i must try this!!!! the photo shows 3 layers, you wrote 2 though, what are the measurements for 3 cake pans? i have to learn how to frost the cake (tons of youtube videos)!

  7. Carol vanderwL

    Will these be cupcakes to ????? 🙂

  8. Delicious cake! I will definitely give this recipe a try. Thanks for sharing!

  9. sounds delicious! i was wondering what 500 gms of cream cheese is?

  10. Carol from Market

    not sure if you received my comment earlier…will these be available in the cupcake form???

  11. This looks amazing, I can’t wait to try this recipe. I am totally in a fall food frenzy mode!

  12. I love this season, i love pumpkin cake and this recipe looks gorgeous.

  13. Mandi

    Made this! Was delish!!!! Thank you for recipe!! Will be making again this fall 🙂

  14. The cake looks nice 🙂
    Thanks for the recipe…

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