Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cake of the Week: Pumpkin Cake with Butterscotch Filling

Good choice on reading my blog today. Give yourself a high-five. Why? Well, it’s Tuesday, everyone’s favorite day, because it is time for me to post my Cake of the Week (except for my roommates, whose favorite day is Sunday, the day said cake was consumed…). 

Anywho, this week I have really a good one! It may be the BEST CAKE I HAVE EVER MADE…woah, I know, bold statement.


But seriously, picture me on Saturday afternoon: I am in my kitchen. Pandora Kenny Chesney station is blaring. I am mixing up my cake while singing along to She’s Got It All at the top of my voice…And then I dip my finger into the butterscotch filling. The world stops. Oh. My. God. This may be the most delicious thing I have ever made. Woah. Wow. Yum!

 So now that I have your attention, I will give you the recipe run-down. The official recipe is Pumpkin Cake with Butterscotch Filling and Brown Sugar Buttercream.

 My Variations (because I never just follow a recipe):

- I decided to add a small handful of dried cranberries to the cake, a la the Magnolia Bakery pumpkin cake I had in New York last weekend.

- I also opted out of the Brown Sugar Buttercream (which I have made before), because I felt that with the Butterscotch Filling that would just be too sweet. I would have done a cream cheese frosting, but I didn’t have cream cheese, and it was raining/freezing outside, so I just did a thin layer of vanilla buttercream.

- Definitely add chopped nuts to the butterscotch! Either pecans or walnuts - I did walnuts. 

- I used 1 1/4 sticks of butter (not 2 like the recipe says).

- I never buy buttermilk – sour your milk by adding a teaspoon of vinegar and letting it sit for at least ½ hour.

- In the butterscotch, I substituted apple cider vinegar for the lemon juice. The recipe calls for ¼ teaspoon lemon juice, which can’t possibly contribute much flavor, but I was concerned that for the butterscotch to work it needed some acidity. Thus, vinegar.

I expected the butterscotch part to be really challenging. I mean, as a life-rule, I steer clear of anything that involves boiling sugar. That just sounds dangerous. But the butterscotch was actually really easy, and AMAZING. I mean, pumpkin cake is good, but what makes this whole thing truly special is the butterscotch. 

I want to make it again, just to put on everything - I mean, what wouldn't go well with butterscotch? Graham crackers, cupcakes, cookies, oatmeal (I'm not even kidding), my finger...

Don't worry, I will walk you through it step-by-step with pictures. 

 Make this cake! You will not be sorry!

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 paddle attachments and beat on high speed for 2 minutes, until light (but nor 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