This Pumpkin Layer Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese needs to be on your holiday menu! Six layers of super moist spiced pumpkin cake, crowned with the most delicious cream cheese icing imaginable – you’ll flip for the flavor!
Sometimes, I suck in the kitchen.
I’ll be the first to admit it. This whole being a recipe developer without any formal culinary training definitely puts me at a disadvantage vs. some of the other lovely food bloggers out there.
It must be nice having a clue what you’re doing. I’m more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda girl. I don’t know how else to be, but so far I guess it’s sort of working for me. I think I’ll let you be the judge of that, though.
In spite of everything working against me, sometimes I have a Rainman moment in the kitchen, and all the bits of info I’ve taught myself come together in a perfectly executed recipe that I don’t have to make a second or third time to know wasn’t just a fluke.
This is it, folks. The pièce de résistance. Literally the best cake I’ve ever made.
This cake was supposed to be my Pumpkin Week finale – my grand, beautiful end to a week full of delicious fall treats.
Mother Nature had other things in mind, throwing Hurricane Matthew my way and stealing my time, electricity, and internet access and making it impossible for me to share this deliciousness with you when I planned to.
Even though Pumpkin Week has come and gone, pumpkin season lives on! Instead of being a grand finale, this pretty pumpkin layer cake will be your midweek pick-me-up!
Can we talk about our feelings right now?
Our brown butter feelings?
Believe you me, there is plenty more brown butter goodness coming your way in the next few weeks.
Something comes over me while that butter is getting all bubbly and foamy that has nothing to do with the Backstreet Boys Amazon radio playing in the background.
Anticipation. It’s the smell.
If you’ve never breathed in the intoxicating aroma of almost-but-not-quite burnt butter, do yourself a favor and get on it. Even if you have no use for it yet. Stick it in the fridge and hang on to it, and I promise I can give you a reason to bring it into your life.
The smell will draw you in, and the taste will make you a repeat customer.
Or, you know, you could just make this pumpkin layer cake. Despite popular belief, there is no need for a special occasion to make and enjoy a cake!
Cake for cake’s sake, especially if it’s pumpkin and spice and everything brown butter cream cheese.
And sprinkles. Always sprinkles.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar, packed
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1¾ cups pumpkin puree
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¾ cup milk
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon cardamom
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 3, 6-inch (or 2, 8-inch) cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Whisk well and set aside.
- In a stand mixer or using a hand mixer, cream butter and sugars together for 2 minutes on medium speed until fluffy and pale. Add eggs in one at a time, beating well between additions. Mix in pumpkin puree, oil, and vanilla until combined.
- Alternate adding the ⅓ of the flour mixture and ½ the milk on low speed until it's all incorporated and combined completely. Don't over-mix to avoid a tough crumb.
- Use a kitchen scale to divide batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake on middle rack for 38-42 minutes, until tops are rounded and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (If using 8-inch pans, bake time will be closer to 25-30 minutes.)
- Allow cakes to cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove cakes to cooling rack and cool completely.
- Cut butter into tablespoon-sized pieces. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, melt butter, stirring constantly to ensure even melting. Add salt and continue to stir as the butter bubbles and foams. When the butter turns a light brown, you begin to see tiny brown bits appear as you stir, and the heavenly nutty aroma makes you want to swoon, remove the butter from the heat and place it in a cool bowl. Waiting too long will result in burnt butter! Allow to cool slightly, then place in the fridge for 15 minutes to solidify it.
- In a stand mixer or using a hand mixer, beat cream cheese and chilled brown butter for 1 minute on high speed until well blended. Add vanilla and cardamom and blend well, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed.
- Blend powdered sugar in on low speed ½ cup at a time until all is added, then mix on high speed for 2 minutes. Add heavy cream and, using the whip attachment, return speed to high and whip until icing is fluffier, 1-2 minutes.
- When ready to assemble: Using a sharp serrated knife, carefully slice each cooled cake layer in half horizontally. Place a layer on a cake board or plate and, using an offset spatula, fill and spread ¼-1/3 cup icing to cover layer. Repeat with remaining layers, then chill for 30 minutes in the fridge.
- Use the remaining icing to cover the top and outside of the cake, spreading evenly and creating a swirl on top. Use a spatula or cake comb to scrape extra icing from the sides to create a "naked' look. Add a little pop of colorful fall sprinkles to the top if desired.
What’s your favorite recipe to use brown butter in?