Monica's favorite gear for
making Pumpkin Cake
An aromatic blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves used any many seasonal recipes.
Also available: recipe to make your own
Pumpkin that is plain and pure--nothing added. One 15 oz can is the perfect portion for this recipe.
The little bursts of ginger flavor are essential parts of the cake's delicious topping.
These raw, shelled pumpkin seeds are key to the flavor and crunch of the cake topping.
These nuts are also an essential part of the cake topping.
This vanilla is highly rated by Cook's Illustrated test kitchen.
These highly rated spatulas are heat resistant and versatile for stirring the nut mixture as it cooks as well as the pumpkin batter.
This handy, tri-ply pan is perfect for browing the butter in this recipe.
This tool gets lots of use in my kitchen. In this recipe I used it for whisking the flour mixture and whisking the browned butter into the batter.
This 9-piece set of nesting bowls take care of all my mixing needs. I love how compactly they stack and store.
This is the perfect size for baking this cake, lasagna, casseroles, and more. It looks lovely going directly from oven to table, too.
I bought this 7-speed mixer after see it recommended by Cooks Illustrated. I often find it easier to use this powerful little work horse, instead of getting out my big stand mixer. It's what I use for mixing the frosting for this cake.
The angle of this 9-inch spatula makes it easy to spread frosting evenly.
This handy little spatula is the perfect size for serving pieces of cake and brownies.

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake with Nut Topping


Looking for holiday gifts for the foodie in your life?
Here are a few gift guides I made to help:

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake

By Monica              12 servings
BEST. CAKE. EVER. Browned butter in the cake and cream cheese frosting and a sweet and salty nut topping make this a showstopper. A great addition to your Thanksgiving desserts. From TheYummyLife.com #pumpkin #pumpkin spice #cake #brown butter #pepitas #pecans #Thanksgiving dessert #cream cheese frosting

Browned butter in the cake and cream cheese frosting and a sweet and salty nut topping make this a showstopper. A great addition to your Thanksgiving desserts.

Ingredients
  • FOR THE CAKE:
  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (plus 1 tablespoon softened for buttering pan)
  • 2 cups (9 oz) all purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 can (15 oz) plain pumpkin puree
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup buttermik
  • FOR THE NUT TOPPING:
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1-1/3 cups raw pecan halves
  • 1 cup unsalted, raw, hulled pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup diced crystallized ginger
  • FOR THE FROSTING:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-1/4 cups powdered (confectioners') sugar

Directions

MAKE CAKE:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F . Butter a 9x13 baking pan; set aside.

Add butter to a 1-quart saucepan; melt over medium heat. Continue to cook butter, stirring occasionally, until it turns a golden brown color; there will be dark bits in the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and pour into a small bowl to cool (but not harden) for approx 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt; set aside.

In large bowl, add pumpkin, granulated and brown sugars, eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk; whisk until uniformly combined. Add flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula just until mixed with no visible dry bits (may be slightly lumpy). Slowly whisk in browned butter (including darkened bits) until smooth and evenly mixed. Pour batter into buttered baking pan and spread evenly. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Place on wire rack and cool completely.

MAKE TOPPING:
In large non-stick skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add pecans and pepitas and cook until slightly browned & fragrant and pepitas beginning to pop. Stir in brown sugar and salt; continue to cook until sugar is melted on bottom of pan (some of the sugar coating the nuts may not melt completely). Turn off heat and stir in ginger. Set aside to cool in pan.

MAKE FROSTING:
(This is the same butter browning procedure used for the cake batter above.) Add butter to a 1-quart saucepan; melt over medium heat. Continue to cook butter, stirring occasionally, until it turns a golden brown color; there will be dark bits in the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and pour into a small bowl to cool for at least 15 minutes. It's fine if it firms up some as long as it remains soft and doesn't completely harden.

To large bowl, add cream cheese cooled browned butter (including darkened bits), brown sugar, and vanilla. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and sugar is dissolved. Gradually mix in powdered sugar, 1/3 at a time, on low speed, until incorporated. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes.

FROST AND FINISH CAKE
Frost cooled cake, smoothing frosting into even layer over top. Sprinkle evenly with cooled nut topping mixture.

MAKE-AHEAD TIP:
--REFRIGERATE IT. Cake can be made 1-2 days ahead, covered and refrigerated. (In fact, the flavor improves the next day.)  Return to room temperature before serving.
--FREEZE IT. Frosted cake can be covered and frozen for up to 2 weeks. Thaw and return to room temperature before serving.

Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking.

This cake is a showstopper, to be sure. Honestly, it just may be the best cake I've ever made. Why? It's all about the brown butter both in the cake batter and the cream cheese frosting. The nut topping of sugared and salty pecans and pepitas with bits of crystallized ginger really puts this recipe over the top. Seriously, the bursts of flavor while you savor each bite are amazing.

The inspiration for this cake comes from a Fine Cooking recipe that I discovered 8-ish years ago. I don't think I've ever read so many positive reviews of a recipe. I mean people just raved about that cake so much that I had to try it. The reviews were right--best cake ever! The original Fine Cooking recipe is for a gorgeous layer cake with several steps that are rather tedious and time-consuming. Through the years I've simplified the recipe considerably. My version is a 9x13 sheet cake, and I've tweaked a few ingredients and procedures to make the cake come together more easily without compromising any of the amazing flavor. 

Brown butter is everything in this recipe! It's an extra step that requires a bit more time and attention, but it's so worth it. That is the dominant flavor that makes this cake particularly delicious. So, don't leave out that important step--brown the butter! I'll show you how.

Make-ahead convenience! Another big bonus of this cake is that it can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen. That makes it a great cake for parties, Thanksgiving, or holidays when it's helpful to get some of the cooking completed ahead of time.

Step-by-step photos for making
Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake

 

Step 1. Assemble the ingredients:

  • unsalted butter
  • all-purpose flour
  • canned plain pumpkin puree
  • pumpkin spice (buy or make your own with my recipe)
  • eggs
  • baking soda
  • kosher salt
  • vanilla
  • white (granulated) and brown sugar
  • buttermilk
  • cream cheese
  • powdered (confectioner's) sugar
  • raw pecan halves
  • raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • crystallized (candied) ginger--This is available in slices or already diced. If you have the sliced kind, it's easy to dice it with a knife for use in the topping of this recipe.

view on Amazon:  pumpkin spice, canned pumpkin, vanilla extract crystallized ginger, pepitas, pecan halves, Oxo canisterscollage_ingredients_titled_resized.jpg

Brown the butter:

 

Step 2. Brown the butter by melting it over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it turns a golden brown color and has a nutty fragrance. There will be darkened bits in the bottom of the pan. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't brown to the point of burning. It should take approx. 4-6 minutes.

Step 3. Pour the browned butter into a small bowl to stop it from cooking more and allow it to cool. It needs to cool at least 15 minutes before it can be added to the cake batter. Don't let it get hard, though, or you won't be able to incorporate it into the batter properly.

  • TIP: You'll need to brown butter (in two separate batches) for both the cake batter and the frosting. I usually make both batches right off the bat so that task is finished and the 2 bowls of browned butters can cool.

view on Amazon:  rubber spatula, 1 qt. saucepancollage_browned_butter_resizetm.jpg

Mix the batter and bake the cake:

 

Step 4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, pumpkin spice, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

view on Amazon:  wire whisk, stacking mixing bowlscollage_dry_ingredients.jpg

Step 5. In a large bowl, add pumpkin, white and brown sugars, eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk; whisk until uniformly combined. Add flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula just until mixed with no visible dry bits (it may be slightly lumpy).

Step 6. Slowly whisk in the cooled browned butter, including the darkened bits (they are flavor bombs!), until the batter is smooth and evenly mixed. 

colllage_cake_batter_titled_resized.jpg

Step 7. Pour batter into buttered 9x13 baking pan and spread it evenly. Bake at 350 degrees F until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (approx. 35-40 min). Place the cake on a wire rack and cool completely.

view on Amazon:  white 9x13 baking dish (This attractive, versatile baker looks lovely on the table.)collage_bakecake_resizetm.jpg

While the cake bakes, make the nutty topping:

 

Step 8. In a large non-stick skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add pecans and pepitas and cook until slightly browned & fragrant and the pepitas begin to pop. Stir in brown sugar and salt; continue to cook until sugar on bottom of pan is melted (some of the sugar coating the nuts may not melt completely). Turn off the heat and stir in the diced ginger. Set aside to cool in the pan.

collage_topping_resizetm.jpg

Make the frosting:

 

About the browned butter and bits...It's perfectly fine if your cooling browned butter starts to firm up and turn cloudy (see below), as long as it doesn't get hard and still has a soft texture (similar to shortening or a softened stick of butter) so it will mix into the frosting smoothly. Those browned bits in the bottom of the bowl get added to the frosting, too. Don't omit those little flavor bombs! Even though the bits are visible in the frosting when you first frost the cake, no one will see them once the nut topping is added later.

brownedbutter00100dPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20191023113

Step 9. Mix the frosting in a large bowl so it doesn't make a mess when the powdered sugar starts to fly. Use an electric mixer on medium speed to mix the cooled browned butter and bits (from Step 2 above), cream cheese, vanilla, and brown sugar until it's smooth and the sugar is dissolved. On low speed, slowly mix in the powdered sugar, one third at a time, until smooth. Mix on medium-high speed another 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy.

view on Amazon:  my hand-held electric mixer

collage_frosting_titled_resize_1.jpg

Frost and top the cake:

 

Step 10. Use an offset spatula to spread the frosting evenly over the cooled cake. Then sprinkle on the nut topping in an even, thick layer. It will look like a lot of nuts; use them all, well, minus those that you couldn't resist nibbling on! 😉 You will want a taste of those awesome sweet and salty nuts with every bite of cake, believe me.

view on Amazon:  offset frosting spatulacollage_toppingfrosting_resizetm.jpg

And now, cut a piece and enjoy the amazing flavor and texture of this special cake.

view on Amazon:  small serving spatulasquare_wholepanIMG_1151resize1400.jpg

The cake is wonderfully moist and has just enough pumpkin spice for a perfect blend of flavors.

squareIMG_1121_resize_tm.jpg

Refrigerate or freeze! The cake can be made ahead and refrigerated for 1-2 days. In fact, it's even better the next day. You can also freeze the frosted cake up to 2 weeks ahead. Return the refrigerated or frozen cake back to room temperature before serving.

One bite of this yummy cake will send you to a happy place!square_zoombiteIMG_1124resizetm1400.jpg

Like pumpkin? Here are some more recipes you might enjoy:

Make it a Yummy day!

Monica

Link directly to this recipe
Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake
By Monica              Servings: 12 servings
Ingredients
  • FOR THE CAKE:
  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (plus 1 tablespoon softened for buttering pan)
  • 2 cups (9 oz) all purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 can (15 oz) plain pumpkin puree
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup buttermik
  • FOR THE NUT TOPPING:
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1-1/3 cups raw pecan halves
  • 1 cup unsalted, raw, hulled pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup diced crystallized ginger
  • FOR THE FROSTING:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-1/4 cups powdered (confectioners') sugar
Directions

MAKE CAKE:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F . Butter a 9x13 baking pan; set aside.

Add butter to a 1-quart saucepan; melt over medium heat. Continue to cook butter, stirring occasionally, until it turns a golden brown color; there will be dark bits in the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and pour into a small bowl to cool (but not harden) for approx 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt; set aside.

In large bowl, add pumpkin, granulated and brown sugars, eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk; whisk until uniformly combined. Add flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula just until mixed with no visible dry bits (may be slightly lumpy). Slowly whisk in browned butter (including darkened bits) until smooth and evenly mixed. Pour batter into buttered baking pan and spread evenly. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Place on wire rack and cool completely.

MAKE TOPPING:
In large non-stick skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add pecans and pepitas and cook until slightly browned & fragrant and pepitas beginning to pop. Stir in brown sugar and salt; continue to cook until sugar is melted on bottom of pan (some of the sugar coating the nuts may not melt completely). Turn off heat and stir in ginger. Set aside to cool in pan.

MAKE FROSTING:
(This is the same butter browning procedure used for the cake batter above.) Add butter to a 1-quart saucepan; melt over medium heat. Continue to cook butter, stirring occasionally, until it turns a golden brown color; there will be dark bits in the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and pour into a small bowl to cool for at least 15 minutes. It's fine if it firms up some as long as it remains soft and doesn't completely harden.

To large bowl, add cream cheese cooled browned butter (including darkened bits), brown sugar, and vanilla. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and sugar is dissolved. Gradually mix in powdered sugar, 1/3 at a time, on low speed, until incorporated. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes.

FROST AND FINISH CAKE
Frost cooled cake, smoothing frosting into even layer over top. Sprinkle evenly with cooled nut topping mixture.

MAKE-AHEAD TIP:
--REFRIGERATE IT. Cake can be made 1-2 days ahead, covered and refrigerated. (In fact, the flavor improves the next day.)  Return to room temperature before serving.
--FREEZE IT. Frosted cake can be covered and frozen for up to 2 weeks. Thaw and return to room temperature before serving.

Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking.



Posted on Sunday, October 27th, 2019

Looking for holiday gifts for the foodie in your life?
Here are a few gift guides I made to help:








Home    |    Recipes    |    Archives    |    About The Yummy Life    |    Contact
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
Privacy Policy - © 2019 The Yummy Life - All rights reserved