Browned Butter Pumpkin Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting

10.16.2015

Every fall pumpkin cake is a must! Last year I made a classic Pumpkin Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting so this year I wanted to change things up a bit and add in a few more flavors. When you want to go all out two flavors that are sure to impress are nutty browned butter and decadent salted caramel and they pair amazingly well together. Plus they are a simply divine when combined with the flavor of pumpkin!

Browned Butter Pumpkin Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting | Cooking Classy

This cake does require a few steps but in the end you’ll realize it was so worth it! The hardest part is the patience in waiting for the browned butter and caramel sauce to cool. At least you didn’t do it four times like I did lol. I made the cake portion four times trying to figure out how to get a fluffy cake using browned butter, the key is in chilling the butter and letting it nearly set again so you can whip it with the sugar to get those air bubbles which will expand with the baking soda and baking powder, which will leave you with a taller and fluffier cake (the cake pictured here wasn’t actually the 4th, after taking pictures I just decided to keep being picky until I got it right where I wanted it). All the sciences of baking can be hard to get, but now I know if you want a fluffy cake that includes browned butter the best bet is to let it set again so it can whip up well.

This would be the perfect cake for a Halloween or Thanksgiving celebration, or if you are just looking for something amazing to bake this weekend I suggest trying out this cake! It will have you swooning and maybe even swaying. That’s right, dancing because you’re so in love with it!

Browned Butter Pumpkin Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting | Cooking Classy Browned Butter Pumpkin Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting | Cooking ClassyBrowned Butter Pumpkin Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting | Cooking Classy

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Browned Butter Pumpkin Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 cup (8 oz) unsalted butter, diced into 1 Tbsp pieces
  • 2 1/4 cups (318g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups (324g) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cups (395g) canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) buttermilk

Caramel sauce

  • 1 cup (210g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz) unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) heavy cream

Frosting

  • 3/4 cup (6 oz) unsalted butter
  • 3 1/4 cups (375g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce (from above)
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt , or to taste
  • Chopped pecans , for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. For the cake:
  2. Add butter to a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Melt butter and allow to brown, whisking occasionally (for how to see link here). Pour into a 4 cup bowl and allow to cool in refrigerator until creamy and nearly set, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours. Alternately, chill fully overnight, then let rest at room temp until softened, about 20 - 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-inch cake pans, line with a round of parchment, butter parchment and lightly dust pans with flour, shaking out excess. Wrap cake pans with cake strips if you have them. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves for 20 seconds.
  4. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (I recommend using an attachment that constantly scrapes sides and bottom of bowl, otherwise stop mixer occasionally throughout entire mixing process and scrape down sides and bottom of bowl), whip together cooled browned butter with 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs one at a time adding in vanilla with last egg. In a bowl or liquid measuring cup mix together pumpkin and buttermilk. With mixer set on low speed add in 1/3 of the flour mixture (to the butter mixture) and mix just until combined then add in 1/2 of the pumpkin mixture and mix just until combined. Repeat process once more with flour and pumpkin mixture then finish by mixing in last 1/3 of the flour mixture until nearly combined, then stop mixer and fold batter with a spatula to evenly incorporate. Divide batter amoung two prepared baking pans and spread batter into an even layer. Bake in preheated oven 25 - 30 minutes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Meanwhile prepare and chill caramel sauce.
  5. For the caramel sauce:
  6. Have all caramel ingredients ready. In a medium saucepan combine sugar, water and sea salt. Set over medium-high heat and whisk constantly until it begins to boil, then allow mixture to boil until it turns to a rich amber color, carefully swirling pan occasionally. Immediately whisk in butter then remove from heat and whisk in cream (be careful, it will steam! A long handled whisk is recommend) and stir until smooth. Allow to cool several minutes then pour into a glass bowl or jar and chill caramel until completely cooled.
  7. For the frosting:
  8. Whip butter until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup of the cooled caramel sauce, sea salt and vanilla. Mix until well combined and slightly fluffy. Chill until it becomes a more firm consistency if needed. Spread over cake and drizzle some of the remaining caramel sauce over cake just before serving. Sprinkle with pecans if desired.
  9. Recipe source: Cooking Classy

16 comments

  • Sammie: Totally get what you mean about making the cake so many times just till you get the perfect recipe! Beautiful cake you got here. Perfect for the fall! October 16, 2015 at 7:05pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Sammie! October 16, 2015 at 8:54pm Reply

  • June @ How to Philosophize with Cake: Oh wow that cake looks incredible! Pumpkin + caramel are truly a perfect fall combination :) Love the caramel frosting too! October 17, 2015 at 5:37am Reply

  • Laura Dembowski: This cake so looks worth the effort. When I saw it on twitter, I stopped what I was doing to check it out. Amazing! October 17, 2015 at 6:38am Reply

  • Jennifer: Beautiful and looks delicious!! October 17, 2015 at 4:46pm Reply

  • Laura (Tutti Dolci): This cake is just beyond! Love that salted caramel drizzle! October 18, 2015 at 12:07am Reply

  • Medeja: This cake looks great! I like pumpkin and caramel combination. Yummy! October 18, 2015 at 10:17am Reply

  • Crystal: Do you think it’d come out the same in cupcake form? October 19, 2015 at 12:45pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I think this recipe should also work great as cupcakes. October 19, 2015 at 10:55pm Reply

  • Colleen: How does this caramel frosting compare to the one you used for the salted caramel apple cupcakes? I noticed the ratios are different. I’m looking for a good caramel frosting for a twix cupcake.

    Your blog is wonderful by the way; every recipe I’ve tried has been golden! October 25, 2015 at 12:11pm Reply

  • Jan: made this for an office potluck…everyone RAVED about it…there was not a crumb left.

    Wasn’t sure what the oven temp should be so I did mine at 350 and it worked perfectly!

    thank you for a wonderful recipe, I will be baking this scrumptious cake again and again! October 30, 2015 at 12:49pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so happy to hear everyone liked it Jan! So sorry I didn’t list that – it is 350. Thanks for your review! October 30, 2015 at 2:43pm Reply

  • Antonia: Hi Jaclyn, glad you posted this recipe, the cake looks really good. In fact I just made it, but I have a problem with the frosting. Although I creamed the butter in advance, the powder sugar did not ‘melt’ well into it, and even after adding vanilla and caramel, and mixing really well for a while, I can still feel the powder sugar distinctively when I taste it. What do you recommend? Thank you. November 3, 2015 at 3:50pm Reply

  • Carol: Jaclyn, I made your recipe as cupcakes I got 10 jumbo, also I only used 2 eggs. The first time I made these I browned the butter as per your recipe stated, and to be honest with you I did not taste the browned butter what so ever, the second time I used melted butter without browning, surprisingly they both tasted the same. This may be my new favorite pumpkin cupcake/muffin recipe, they rise beautifully when baking and are soft and moist, so no need to use 4 eggs and all the time browning butter! September 22, 2016 at 2:17pm Reply

  • Hannah: Hi, would this cake be good to make the day before or would you suggest making it the day of? November 14, 2016 at 11:00am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Yes, I’d just make the frosting the following day. Or add it the day before and store the cake in the fridge then let rest at room temp until the cake has come to room temp. I hope you love it Hannah! November 14, 2016 at 1:31pm Reply

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