Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pumpkin Cake with Brown Butter Icing

I'm not a pumpkin pie kind of girl (gasp!).  I think it's a texture thing-- I love the pumpkin flavor but don't care for the strange wobbly, yet dense, yet gooey consistency.  I know-- sacrilege.  But that's just me.  Fortunately I think I've found a good compromise in this cake.

This recipe had me at "brown butter icing".  Pumpkin shmumkin. Bring on the icing, baby!

Truthfully though, both the cake and the icing are phenomenally good and embody quintessential taste of the season.  See, I promised you there'd be pumpkin-something soon, didn't I?  I first found this recipe on Shutterbean and then saw that it was featured again more recently on RisingShining.  This cake lived up to the high praise it received on both of these blogs... and then some!

Here we go!!

Prep your pan with butter and parchment paper and combine your dry ingredients

Cream the butter and the sugar

Add the pumpkin and eggs

Mix it up and add in the dry ingredients

Batter's done!

Cake is baked!

Brown the butter!

Yummy brown butter icing!
(Don't get your hopes up, friends-- this makes exactly enough to cover the top of the cake, so no extra "tasting")

Dig in!



  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1 2/3 cup all purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
    • Note: My local grocery store was all out of allspice, so I subbed 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice for the 1/4 teaspoons of nutmeg and ground allspice and the cake still turned out marvelously
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup warm (110 degree) milk
Brown Butter Icing:
  • 4 tablespoons butter (Either salted or unsalted is fine, depending on your preference and what you have on hand.  I only had unsalted butter so I added a tiny pinch of kosher salt because I like the sweet/semi-salty combo)
  • 1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk
Caramelized Walnuts:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 10 well shaped, good sized walnut halves
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Butter a 9 inch by 2 inch round pan. Line pan with parchment paper and butter the parchment. Coat pan with flour and tap out any excess.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together flour, spices, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat sugar and butter together until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add eggs and beat until combined. Add pumpkin puree and mil and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined. 
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean (about 55 minutes)
  6. Transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool. Let cake rest about 20 minutes.
  7. While the cake is cooling, begin the icing. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat until the mixture is browned and smells nutty (about 10 minutes).
  8. Remove pan from heat and pour butter into bowl, leaving behind any burned sediment.
  9. Add sugar, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon milk.  Stir until smooth. If icing is too thick, add additional milk, one tablespoon at a time until the consistency is spreadable. 
  10. Let cool 5 minutes before icing the cake. 
  11. Next, prepare the walnuts. In a small skillet, melt sugar on medium-high heat until medium golden in color (about 3 minutes). Remove skillet from heat. Working quickly drop walnut halves into the melted sugar, one at a time. If sugar hardens, return to low heat and stir several minutes. Using a fork, turn the walnuts until they are evenly coated. Transfer walnuts to a wire rack to cool completely.
    1. Note: I ran out of time and had to forgo the caramelized walnuts, hence the pictures of the cake garnished with raw, un-caramely walnuts.  I'm sure this adds a great deal to an already beautiful and delicious cake, so I'll definitely make time for this step the next time I make this cake. 
  12. Remove cake from pan, spread icing over the top of the cake, and garnish with caramelized walnuts. 

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