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Pumpkin Cake with Butterscotch Filling and Brown Sugar Frosting


When Annie posted this the other week, she reminded me that I bookmarked it from Peabody’s blog months ago to make this fall.  I’m sure happy about the reminder, because this is a fabulous cake!  I love that the flavors are so different from what you would typically find in a pumpkin cake.  I love pumpkin-butterscotch cookies, so of course the combination would have to be good on a cake!   The brown sugar was also a great addition and went well with the cake.


I didn’t have any problems making the cake, although this was my first experience making a butterscotch filling like this.  It was so much fun to see how it transformed into a delicious, spreadable filling when I beat it using my KA mixer.  I love butterscotch in pretty much any form, and I would love to use this filling for other desserts.  I feel the same with the brown sugar frosting.  I love the deep, rich flavor that brown sugar brings in a dessert.  This is a frosting that I could just eat by the spoonful (I think that’s a pattern…)  The cake was also very moist due to the buttermilk.  This cake is more work than the typical pumpkin and cream frosting cake, but it’s definitely worth it.  I would make a great addition to your dessert table at your Thanksgiving dinner!



Pumpkin Cake with Butterscotch Filling and Brown Sugar Frosting


For the cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground nutmeg

½ tsp. ground cloves

1 tsp. salt

1 ½ cups pumpkin puree

1 cup buttermilk

2 sticks unsalted butter

1 cup tightly packed light brown sugar

1 cup sugar

4 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the filling:

¾ cup heavy cream

¾ cup sugar

¼ tsp. fresh lemon juice

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 4 – 1 oz. pieces

¾ cup chopped nuts, such as pecans or walnuts (optional)

For the icing:

2 cups tightly packed brown sugar

1 cup heavy cream

2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 8 – 1 oz. pieces

¼ tsp. cream of tartar


Line the bottoms of 2 round 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper.  Grease the parchment, as well as the sides of the pans.  Preheat the oven to 325°.  Center a rack in the oven.

To make the cake, combine the flour, baking soda, spices and salt in a medium bowl.  Set aside.  In a small bowl, combine pumpkin puree and buttermilk and mix until smooth.  Set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars.  Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Increase to high speed and beat for an additional 2 minutes.  Scrape down the bowl.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and scraping down the bowl between additions.  Add the vanilla extract and beat on high for 30 seconds.  With the mixer running on low speed, alternate adding the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients.  Mix until just combined.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a rubber spatula to finish mixing the batter, until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Immediately divide the batter between the prepared cake pans, spreading evenly.  Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans 10 minutes.  Invert onto a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

To make the filling, heat the cream in a saucepan over medium-low heat until hot (do not allow to boil or simmer).  Combine sugar and lemon juice in a separate saucepan and stir with a whisk to combine (the sugar will resemble moist sand).  Caramelize the sugar for 4-5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a whisk to break up any lumps.  Remove the saucepan from the heat.  Add the hot cream, one half at a time.  Add the butter, one piece at a time, stirring to incorporate completely before adding the next piece.  Cool in the refrigerator 45 minutes.  Place in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on high speed for 2 minutes, until light (but not fluffy).  Add the chopped nuts and stir to incorporate.  Set aside.

To make the icing, heat the brown sugar, heavy cream, 2 – 1 oz. pieces of butter, and cream of tartar in a 2-3 quart saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, while bringing the mixture to a boil.  Allow the mixture to continue boiling while stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.  Transfer the bubbling hot mixture to a stainless steel bowl and allow to stand at room temperature for 1 hour before proceeding.  Place the cooled mixture in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on low speed for 30 seconds.  Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes, adding the 6 remaining pieces of butter one at a time, until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Increase the speed to high and beat for an additional 2 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat on high for an additional 1 minute until light and fluffy.

To assemble the cake, place one of the pumpkin cake layers on a cake platter or a cardboard cake circle.  Spread butterscotch filling evenly on top of cake.  Top with remaining layer of cake, pressing down firmly.  Frost sides and top of cake with brown sugar icing.  Use remaining frosting to pipe decorative accents onto top and bottom edge of the cake.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes before cutting and serving.

Source: Culinary Concoctions by Peabody, who adapted it from Desserts to Die For by Marcel Desaulniers


23 Responses

  1. Okay, so this popped up in my Reader, and I had one thought. I want it. Now. That is one gorgeous, delicious looking cake.

  2. Yum! It’s one of my favorites, I need to make it again.

  3. This looks so fabulous! I’m bookmarking this for the next time I need a dessert. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Ive been wanting to make this for a long time too. I really need to giddy-up and do it. It looks awesome!

  5. Okay, totally craving this now! It’s 9:45 PM…If I stay up for a few more hours, I can have it for breakfast! Tempting…so tempting…

  6. WOW! That seriously looks amaaaaaaaazingly delicious! I love the colors and it looks so moist! Where’s my piece!?!? 😉

  7. This is beautiful! And delicious-looking!

  8. Not only does the cake look amazing, but the icing sounds delicious!
    I have always heard of brown sugar frosting, but have never made it!
    A person could make the frosting alone and put it on toast…or a plain cookie….oh, the possibilities are endless! :o)
    You can’t go wrong with brown sugar and butter and cream!
    Cindy H

  9. This is not helping my pumpkin fixation…

  10. […] I haven’t had pie yet… And doesn’t this and this and this look good?  (Ack, and another one, updated while I was writing […]

  11. That cake looks so good! I would eat it right off the page if it were possible 🙂 I will definitely have to try this one for myself!

  12. That looks absolutely delicious! I’ve been making lots of pumpkin things lately, but no cake…yet. =) Nice decorating job, too!

  13. OMG this is not low fat….. he he he. Okay so its the holidays you say. So that makes it legal, right. It sounds so yummy. You did a beautiful job and the piece you cut looks beautiful.
    Have you been busy or what? Lots of baking for you lately, maybe even some you didn’t write about. I may put this cake recipe in my google docs. Super easy way to copy and paste recipes from blogs, right into course appropriate folders.
    Happy Thanksgiving

  14. 1 more thing: I just read the source of the cake….guess what? someone my husband works with who has converted to the no sugar, low carb way of life gave me the book . Yippee, I have it in my zillions of cookbooks. WooHoo

  15. wow, you did a great job w/this layer cake. beautiful

  16. Oh my goodness, this looks amazing!!!

  17. I am so glad you enjoyed it! I have already been seriously craving it again, and I would totally make it for Thanksgiving if people wouldn’t miss the pumpkin pie so much!

  18. I made this cake for our Thanksgiving table this year. Wowzy. It was a huge hit. Sophticated cake. Butterscotch filling to die for. The brown sugar frosting put it over the top. Took most of a day to complete but well worth it. I put it right at the top of first rate cakes that are worth the work (along side Lime in the Coconut cake) Thanks for the keeper!!

  19. This cake was amazing! I made it for Thanksgiving and it got rave reviews. Not the easiest or quickest thing I ever made, but so worth every minute of work.

  20. excuse me while i wipe the drool off my chin

  21. I just tried making this frosting and followed the recipe to a T…I even set my timer on the micowave so I wouldn’t go over the 30sec, 2 min and 1 min intervals. I cannot get the fluffy frosting this is in the picture. Mine is runny. Where did I go wrong? I have re-read and re-read that recipe and followed it exactly. How can I get this frosting to fluff up? The flavor is wonderful, it would just drip off the cake at this point. Please help!

    • I’m not sure what could have caused that. It could be the weather. I hope you find a solution- sorry I can’t be more helpful!

  22. […] and I want to try it over the holidays, but right now, I just need that frosting!!!! Please help! Pumpkin Cake with Butterscotch Filling and Brown Sugar Frosting Dinner & Dessert __________________ Cindy – Mom to sassy ms. Ella, 3 & the Tucker-man, 10 mos. & BJ's […]

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