Friday, August 31, 2012

The Cake that needs No Explanation

Excuse the drool.  This picture had me ready to lick my computer screen.

Usually, there is some type of story or related event to go along with my recipes.  But this time, I have nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  I have actually delayed posting this recipe to see if a story would develop, yet nothing has occurred.  This cake is too good to wait, so I am sharing it sans story.

This cake is literally too good to wait.  A friend emailed me a link to this cake on a Thursday and I made it Saturday.  Yup, the promise of brown butter, pumpkin, and fall flavors will do that to me.  So, do not wait or hesitate make this cake now!  Hint- you can make it in a jar now and make it as a whole cake for Thanksgiving.  Yes, it is so good you will want it twice.

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting and Salty Sweet Pecans... (gasping in a breath of air)... In a Jar
(Adapted from Fine Cooking
Original recipe in black, my changes and comments in red.


6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter; more for the pans (I used spray to prepare pans. )
9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pans (I used spray to prepare pans.)
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 tsp. table salt
1/4 tsp. ground cloves (I used 1/2 tsp. allspice instead.)
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1-1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk (I used almond milk. I did not have buttermilk on hand.)

Topping I kind of doubled the recipe.
1-1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter (3 TBS)
2/3 cup pecans (2 cups)
1/2 cup unsalted, raw, hulled pepitas (I did not use, as I did not have any on hand.  I added more pecans instead.)
2 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar (4 TBS)
1/4 tsp. table salt (1/2 TBS; this was an accident I read TBS instead of tsp.)
1-1/2 Tbs. chopped crystallized ginger (Did not use.)
Caster (extra fine) Sugar, amount to taste to roll nuts in (This was to make up for the accidental additional salt.)

4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar (Did not use.  I was concerned the brown sugar would clump or lead to a gritty texture.)
5 oz. (1-1/4 cups) confectioners’ sugar (1 1/2 pound; I added more sugar to sweeten frosting and to detract some of the saltiness of the nuts.)
Splash of almond milk (To get icing to easily pipeable consistency as a result of the added sugar.)
2 tsp. vanilla extract

If using jars you will need 8-eight oz. jars, a circle cookie cutter (optional, but preferred), piping bag (ditto), and piping tip (ditto).



1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

2. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans with removable bottoms (or butter two 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment, butter the parchment, and flour the pans).  I used one 9x13-inch pan, lined with parchment and sprayed.

3. Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown, about 4 minutes. Pour into a small bowl and let stand until cool but not set, about 15 minutes.  To save dishes, I let the browned butter cool in the pan.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves (all spice, instead). In a large bowl, whisk 1-1/2 cups of the pumpkin purée with the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and buttermilk (almond milk, instead.  I do not necessarily recommend using it.  After mixing the cake, I was concerned it would not rise properly because of the lack of acid with leaving out the buttermilk, and therefore lacking the chemical reaction necessary with the baking soda.  Luckily, it came out okay.  If you have buttermilk or the old milk and vinegar/lemon juice technique available, use it.) until very well blended. With a rubber spatula, stir in the flour mixture until just combined.  I continued to use my whisk (gently) as it was impossible to “stir” the flour in with a rubber spatula.  Gently whisk in the brown butter until completely incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.

5. Bake the cakes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 28 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto racks, remove the pan bottoms or parchment, and cool completely.  My cake baked in about 35 minutes and I let it cool completely in the pan.


1. Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans and pepitas and cook until the pecans brown slightly and the pepitas begin to pop, about 2 minutes. I used pecans only.

2. Sprinkle in the brown sugar and salt and stir until the sugar melts and the nuts are glazed, about 2 minutes. Stir in the ginger. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool in the skillet.  If you really like salty sweet (and to cut some of the sweetness of the frosting) use the greater amount of salt.  I omitted the ginger.  I laid the mixture out on a parchment lined sheet to cool.  I then shook the warm pecans with caster sugar to coat, and then poured the pecans back into a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet to cool completely.


1. Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown, about 4 minutes. Pour into a small bowl and let stand until the solids settle at the bottom of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Carefully transfer the bowl to the freezer and chill until just firm, about 18 minutes. Using a spoon, carefully scrape the butter from bowl, leaving the browned solids at the bottom; discard the solids.  I poured the brown butter into the bowl I plan to make the icing in to cool.  I always keep my browned solids in my brown butter.  They contain the most amazing buttery, nutty, toasty flavor, and it would be a shame to discard them.

2. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light in color and the brown sugar has dissolved, 2 minutes. I creamed the butter and cream sugar together separately, first.  I omitted the brown sugar.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add in a splash of milk, achieving a nice, smooth, and pipeable consistency, and a little vanilla extract.

Assemble the cake

Put one cake layer on a cake plate. Spread 1/2 cup of the frosting on the layer. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the nut mixture over the frosting and top with the second layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Arrange the remaining topping in a ring 1-1/2 inches in from the edge of the cake and serve

1. Remove cake from pan.  Using a circle cookie cutter a little smaller than the size of the jar, cut out sixteen circles.  Cutting the circles as close together as possible, you should get 15.  Taking two sides and placing them together and then cutting out a circle, you can cut a 16th circle.

2. Press a cake circle into the bottom of each of the eight jars.  Using a paper towel clean any cake smears and crumbs from the jar.  Pipe in a layer of frosting.  Sprinkle in some pecans.  Repeat from the cake layer, being careful not to overfill with frosting and pecans so you can screw the top on.

3. Store in the fridge, but enjoy at room temperature.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds absolutely deee-lish!
    We must try this soon; we'll link back to your original post if we do!

    The Chronic MasterBakers, your blogger neighbours...hi neighbour! ;o)