Pumpkin Cake with Butterscotch Filling

Let’s start out today’s post with a simple math problem.  Pumpkin cake + butterscotch filling + brown sugar icing = best cake EVER!  I’m sure it has something to do with my deep love for all things pumpkin and fall-related, but truly, this cake is amazing.  I organize a pumpkin carving party every year for my friends, and brought this for dessert this year.  It was definitely a hit!  The butterscotch filling and brown sugar icing really augment the delicious fall flavors of the pumpkin cake, and create much more interesting and complex dessert than a pumpkin cake frosted with traditional cream cheese frosting.  In particular, I adore the butterscotch filling, and I am of course now looking for other ways I can incorporate it into my daily meals – haha 😛

Beautiful butterscotch.  Mmmm.

This recipe was slightly challenging.  The cake itself presented no problems at all and came out perfectly done, yet still very tender and moist.  Then came the butterscotch.  I followed the recipe exactly, yet when I added the first portion of cream to the caramelized sugar, the sugar seized up into a nearly rock hard ball on my whisk.  I was very upset and almost threw in the towel, but just the thought of bringing a pumpkin cake with boring old cream cheese frosting to my party was enough to make me persevere.  I put the mixture back on the heat, added the rest of the cream, and simply stirred until it became smooth again and, well – like butterscotch.  Once I stirred in the pieces of butter and smelled the final product, I knew I was back on track.  The brown sugar icing was easy enough to make, but was pretty runny initially.  I just refrigerated it for 20-30 minutes to allow it to set up before decorating the cake.  Overall, this may seem difficult to some, but really it was totally worth the effort.  I can’t wait to find another occasion to make it – maybe a Wednesday night?  Sounds good enough to me!

Yummy, yummy butterscotch filling – my new favorite thing!

Really not good lighting from the party, but a shot of the inside.

Pumpkin Cake with Butterscotch Filling and Brown Sugar Icing


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: adapted from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

40 Responses

  1. I saw that on Peabody’s blog and was considering making it! Mmmmm… Looks SO yummy!

  2. This looks fabulous! I love butterscotch, and I’m sure this tastes amazing. I might make it next Wednesday night (Wednesdays should be celebrated, right?) for a group dinner that I’m making dessert for.

  3. Absolutely love your blog. Keep it up!

  4. This looks absolutely delicious! All of my favorite flavors combined. I will have to make this for DH this weekend. I wonder how it would turn out in cupcake form?

  5. That is a very elegant looking cake and I bet it tastes great too.

  6. Can I just say GORGEOUS! Great job! Way to perservere through the butterscotch!

  7. Oh my, my mouth is watering! That sounds so delicious!

  8. This looks amazing! What a great flavor combination!

  9. This is so pretty, you decorate cakes very well. You’re right this is something different to do with pumpkin besides cream cheese, great cake.

  10. Ohhh, Annie. You’ve really done it this time! I’m practically drooling!

  11. What a gorgeous looking cake. This is now on my ‘To Do’ list. Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

  12. We’re making this this weekend!! YUM! Thanks SO much for posting this. I’ll update you as to how it goes.

  13. What a beautiful cake! I can imagine that it must have tasted incredible!

  14. This looks simply delicious – perfect for someone with a fall birthday! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  15. Annie! That looks soooo fabulous!!! What a GREAT Halloween treat!!

  16. Okay, you have me convinced that I NEED this cake in my life. I’m sure you are right when you say that the butterscrotch filling and brown sugar frosting take it to the next level! I’d so love a slice with an icy cold large jug, um, glass of milk!

    Happy Halloween and thanks for sharing the recipes. I’ve printed them out and hope to get a chance to give them a try!

  17. I had this flavour explosion thing happening with this cake. I had to tag it – definitely looks like a winner.

  18. This sounds so over-the-top delicious! I HAVE to make this soon.

  19. butterscotch is a magic word for me, and your filling here sounds sensational. heck, the whole cake wouldn’t last more than two days in my house–nicely done!

  20. […] Ever Pumpkin Cake from Little Corner of Mine Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake from Barbi’s Kitchen Pumpkin Cake with Butterscotch Filling from Annie’s Eats That Pumpkin Stuff Dorothy Makes from a Ivy […]

  21. Sorry the frosting gave you trouble…but like you said, it’s worth it. This is so one of my favorite cakes of all times.

  22. This looks amazingly good! I can almost taste it. 🙂

  23. […] Annie posted this the other week, she reminded me that I bookmarked it from Peabody’s blog months […]

  24. I’m going to make this cake this week. I can’t resist the urge any longer!

    A couple questions:
    1) Do I *need* the cream of tartar?
    2) How long will the filling and the frosting keep? I’m wanting to make those both tonight (Tuesday), make the cake itself Thursday, and serve on Friday (with leftovers on the weekend).

  25. […] Annie Eats-  Pumpkin Cake with Butterscotch Filling […]

  26. I made this cake last Thanksgiving from peabody’s site! It was so fantastic and the perfect cake for Autumn! Reading this is making me crave this cake!

    It looks fantastic!

  27. OMG – AMAZING. I agree with you – potentially the best cake I have ever made!

    Check out my post on it: http://eatrunread.blogspot.com/

    I’m adding your blog to my favs!

  28. oh this cakes looks so good. I like this butterscotch variation 🙂

  29. […] Annie’s Eats, who adapted it from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody and Desserts to Die For, by Marcel […]

  30. Just found my dessert for entertaining on Sunday. Thanks for posting!

  31. Hi! I also made this cake for work too and everyone RAVED about it! The butterscotch was something I had never done and was slightly challenging but I did what you suggested and heated, cooled, reheated, cooled until things evened out. I also ended up icing the cake about 3-4 times… It helped to make an extremely smooth almost fondant look. I just kept cooling the cake as well as the icing itself. Awesome recipe!

  32. I read recipe when I found your site a few weeks ago and could not stop thinking about it! As I write this my frosting is cooling, filling is in the fridge and cakes are resting happily on their racks. I cannot wait to present this to my mom tomorrow for her 60th birthday party. It is laborious, but I think it’s all going to worth it!

  33. This cake was awesome! It was quite labor intensive and took quite awhile this morning to put together, but it was definetley worth it. I could use some tips on the butterscotch. It really didn’t taste like butterscotch, more like caramel and it was rock hard the second the cream hit the pan. It took forever to cook down and I still had to pick out some big chunks. Any suggestions?

    • Nothing to add, just what I already said in the post. Continue cooking it down and yeah, sometimes you have to pick out a chunk or two.

  34. I’m planning on making this tomorrow and serve it Sunday for Thanksgiving. My family isnt as adventurous (sadly) so they’re making me do a normal cream cheese icing *sigh* But I will still be using the recipe for the cake. My question is, how important is the ground cloves? It isnt a large amount so I’m wondering if it is imperative for the flavor. I dont want to buy an entire thing for a 1/2 tsp if I dont have to.

    • It will be okay without them, but I think it’s a good spice to have around anyway. Lots of fall recipes call for cloves.

  35. Just made this cake – have only tried the filling so far and if the rest of the cake is as good as the filling – yummmm! Great cake for the fall. Thanks for another great recipe!

  36. I used this cake recipe as cupcakes tonight. I haven’t frosted them yet, but so far they are delicious! They taste like mini pumpkin pies! Thanks for posting this!

  37. I was just wondering if I could use cake and pastry flour instead. I need to have this for tomorrow and just realized that I have no all purpose flour left.

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