Pumpkin Cake with Brown Buttercream

So life's been pretty crazy recently. While the freelance world was a scary frontier to venture into, I've never been busier. However, today I was able to take a short break to head back to editing some photos and recipes I developed for fun. This cake was something I whipped up for Alex's cousin's birthday. She loves anything pumpkin, so I decided a quick and easy cake was in order. Needless to say, we destroyed it. And while Thanksgiving has past, there's no reason you can't still be noshing on pumpkin desserts.

The combination of warm spices, brown butter and moisture from the pumpkin puree make it a truly stellar cake. However, you're going to want to rub this brown buttercream all over your body. It's rich and nutty, pairing perfectly with the cake. Feel free to brown the butter in advance to fully chill it to resolidify. Just make sure you let it soften before making the buttercream to ensure you don't have any lumps.

Pumpkin Cake with Brown Buttercream

Yield: One 9-inch cake

Prep Time: 20 minutes, plus cooling time

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes, plus cooling time


3 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for greasing

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

One 14-ounce can pumpkin purée

2 tablespoons whole milk

2 eggs

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground clove

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Cook, whisking often, until brown and nutty, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer 1/2 cup to a large glass bowl and chill the remaining brown butter until solid. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 350° and grease a 9-inch cake pan. To the 1/2 cup brown butter, add the sugars and whisk until light and fluffy. Add the pumpkin, milk and eggs, then whisk until smooth. 
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, 1 teaspoon of the salt, cinnamon, clove, baking soda, baking powder and cardamom. Fold into the pumpkin mixture until a smooth batter forms. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula. 
  4. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 45 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, then invert to remove the cake and cool completely on a wire rack.
  5. Meanwhile, let the chilled brown butter soften, then beat with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, the confectioners' sugar and vanilla using an electric hand mixer until light and fluffy. Once the cake is cooled, transfer to a platter and top with the frosting, then slice and serve.