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Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake

  • Author: Meagan


The cake is terrific, and the topping is amazing, but it’s the browned butter, and specifically the browned butter cream cheese frosting that really makes this cake a must.  It’s definitely possible to make this beauty in a day (start early), but I made the cakes a few days before, wrapped them well and froze them, and I made the topping a couple of days ahead, allowed it to cool and stored it in a container.  Borrowed directly from Fine Cooking , (check the link if you’d like to make your own pumpkin puree), thanks SO much to Kyla for sharing!



3/4 c. butter

2 c. flour AND 1/2 t. salt

1 1/2 t. EACH baking soda AND cinnamon

1 t. ground ginger AND 1/4 t. ground cloves

1 can (398 mL) pumpkin puree

1 1/2 c. sugar AND 2/3 c. brown sugar

2 eggs AND 1/3 c. buttermilk

Topping – feel free to double it, it’s tasty!

2 T. butter

2/3 c. pecans – whole are more decorative, but chopped makes a more even middle layer

1/2 c. raw, unsalted, hulled pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

2 T. packed brown sugar AND 1/4 t. salt

2 T. finely chopped crystallized ginger

Frosting – definitely double this, it freezes and it’s brilliant on everything

1/2 c. butter, room temperature

1 package (250 g/8 oz) cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 c. packed brown sugar

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 c. icing sugar


Preheat the oven to 350, butter 2, 9-inch round cake pans, line them with parchment and butter the parchment – set the pans aside.

To brown the butter – melt it in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Allow it to cook, swirling it regularly, until the foaming has subsided and you start seeing a beautiful brown color foam up the middle – this will take a few minutes.  Pour it into a small bowl and allow it to cool for about 15 minutes – you need it to stay in liquid form.

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in a medium bowl, and in a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, both sugars, eggs and buttermilk until smooth.  Use a spatula to stir in the flour mixture, just until combined, and then carefully whisk in the cooled brown butter.  Scrape the batter evenly into your 2 pans – I used my kitchen scale – and bake for about 28 minutes until the centers bounce back to a light touch.  Allow the cakes to cool in their pans for about 10 minutes and then turn them out onto a rack to cool completely.

For the topping – melt the butter in a non-stick skillet over medium heat, add in the pecans and pepitas and cook and stir for a couple of minutes until the pepitas begin to pop.  Quickly sprinkle in the brown sugar and salt and stir until the sugar melts and then stir in the ginger.  Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool completely in the skillet.

For the frosting – brown the butter as you did for the cake, pour it into a small bowl and allow it to sit for about 5 minutes so that the solids sink to the bottom.  Carefully put the bowl in the fridge for about 15 minutes until the butter solidifies.  Once the butter is one solid (slippery) piece, use a spoon to scrape off the bottom, dark brown layer where the solids are – discard the solids.

Use your electric mixer to beat together the butter, cream cheese and brown sugar for a few minutes until it’s very smooth and lighter in color.  Gradually beat in the icing sugar until the frosting is the consistency that you’d like and then finish the frosting by beating it again for another couple of minutes.

To Assemble the Cake

Place one layer of cake on your serving platter and carefully tuck 4 pieces of wax paper or parchment around the edges – these will be removed after you frost the cake, and they should catch all of the mess.  Spread about 1/2 cup of frosting evenly over the cake, and then sprinkle on 1/2 to 1 cup of topping – make it even, or your cake will be lopsided.  Gently place the second cake on top and give it a careful press so that it stays in place, then proceed to frost the top and sides with the rest of the frosting (though ‘naked’ sides are also lovely…and a bit easier) – use it all!  Use the remaining topping to decorate as you wish – enjoy!

  • Category: Cakes, Cream Cheese, Pumpkin, Frostings


From Meagan's Kitchen

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