Brown Butter Pumpkin Spice Cake with Penuche Frosting

Normally, I don’t feel comfortable announcing my birthday in public, but it is very much related to this recipe today. It was my birthday almost a month ago and my favorite thing about birthdays is CAKE. Actually, that’s not it. It’s being able to force all my friends to hang out with me, though cake is also pretty good. So for my birthday this year, Sarah and I made a brown butter pumpkin spice cake with penuche frosting and crepes. We needed an excuse to be excessive.


So here goes.

Brown Butter Pumpkin Spice Cake (borrowed from Butterlust)

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted and cooled
4 eggs, room temperature & lightly beaten
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree (not to be confused with pumpkin pie mix)

First step to the brown butter pumpkin spice cake is to make the brown butter. For anyone who hasn’t had the experience of having brown butter desserts, it’s AMAZING (even though I know the brown butter doesn’t look very appealing in this picture).

brown butter heaven

To brown butter: Heat your butter in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring as continuously. As you heat the butter, it will foam and froth. Continue stirring as you watch your butter start to smell nutty and literally brown in front of your eyes. Watch your butter carefully since this is the point where it could very easily burn! Once the butter has sufficiently browned and brown bits start to form at the bottom, you can remove the butter from the heat and pour the brown butter into a bowl for it to cool.

Butter in the pan

To make the rest of the cake, preheat your oven to 350F. Then, combine all your dry ingredients into a medium bowl (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice). In a large bowl, combine all your wet ingredients (cooled brown butter that you had just made, sugar and eggs) and beat for a few minutes until well-combined.

Once that is done, mix your dry ingredients into your butter-sugar-egg mixture in batches until smooth. IMG_3222

Last but not least, fold your pumpkin puree into the mixture.


The original recipe used two 8-inch round pans to make the layered cake. If you don’t have that kind of bake-ware (like me), then you can do what we did. We filled a 9” x 13” rectangular pan up with the batter and ended up cutting the cake in half for a double-layered cake. Obviously don’t forget to grease the pan.


Bake for 30-35 minutes. When the cake is done, take it out of the oven. As the cake cools, you can make your penuche frosting.

Penuche frosting (also borrowed from Butterlust)

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1/2 cup milk
2 cups brown sugar
3 1/2 – 4 cups powdered sugar

I would actually halve this recipe since we ended up making WAY too much penuche frosting.

The frosting itself is quite simple. In a small saucepan, warm the butter over low heat and stir in the brown sugar. Heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent it from burning. Add the milk in and raise the heat so that the mixture will reach a boil. Once the mixture is boiling, you can remove it from the heat and stir in the powdered sugar. I highly recommend sifting the powdered sugar first. We didn’t and our frosting ended up with little pockets of powdered sugar. Use the frosting as soon as possible since it does harden as it cools.

We assembled the cake by cutting our 9” x 13” cake in half and leveling the bottom half. Some penuche frosting between the two layers and more frosting outside. Voila! You have your beautiful cake.



One thought on “Brown Butter Pumpkin Spice Cake with Penuche Frosting

  1. Pingback: Orange Spiced Chocolate Cake with Penuche Frosting |

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