Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake

Updated Oct 12th 2021

This easy to make fall cake features 2 delicious layers of Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake with a maple cream cheese frosting. Although simple and rustic looking it packs some delicious and intense flavours. From the pumpkin puree in it to the pumpkin pie spices and of course the brown butter. This is now my husbands favorite cake. It used to be my carrot cake but apparently this has replaced it. They both are quite similar as they both are quite easy to make and both also have cream cheese frosting. I think that’s the real reason he loves both of these cakes so much. I mean i really can’t blame him - cream cheese frosting is just so good.

Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake

How to Brown Butter

What makes this cake unique from a regular pumpkin cake is the brown butter. Sure you could just use regular butter but why not step it up with this amazing flavour booster that only takes an extra few minutes to make. It’s worth it. As you melt the butter and continue to heat it, the milk solids “cook” in the fat, turning them brown. These little golden brown specks are like liquid gold. They create a very rich, nutty, deep flavor that heightens and intensifies all baked goods. It smells heavenly as it browns, sort of like roasted hazelnuts.

Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake

The crumb in this cake is very tender and the creamy frosting is nice against its more delicate texture. This cake can easily be made with a simple bowl and whisk/spoon. No mixer is required for the batter itself I just used it in my video because I had it out to make the frosting. That frosting is a wonderful pairing with the pumpkin spice flavours. I love the flavour of maple syrup. The flavour of it in the frosting is subtle but nice. If you aren’t a fan of maple syrup though that is ok just leave it out and replace it with a bit of cream or milk as needed to replace the liquid amount called for in the recipe.

Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake

I really can’t say enough about how tasty and simple to make this cake is. I kept the decorating to a minimal. I added some swoops to the frosting on the top of the cake that I made with a spoon just to add some interest and dusted it with some pumpkin pie spice but you could also dust it with some cinnamon. I topped mine with some fall coloured flowers just to add some colour and extra interest. You could also top it with a drizzle of caramel sauce and even approximately ½ cup pecans or pepitas or any other toasted chopped nuts. As you can see it takes very little effort to get a cute looking cake. You can go as simple or as fancy as you like with your frosting and your decorations. Have fun with it! Have fun celebrating the warm flavors of autumn with this brown butter pumpkin cake. You and your family will love it.

Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake

How to Make The Perfect Pumpkin Layer Cake

Now that you know just how delicious this cake is let talk about the simple steps to making it:

  1. Make the brown butter: Simply heat butter until it starts to bubble and smell very nutty and delicious. If you don’t wish to brown the butter just heat it until it’s melted.
  2. Whisk the dry ingredients together
  3. Whisk the wet ingredients all but the butter until well combined
  4. Fold or mix in the dry ingredients into the wet then the brown butter
  5. Pour batter into 2 pans evenly then bake, cool, frost and enjoy!

I have partnered up with Bob’s Red Mill to bring you this fabulous recipe, but all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting Olive & Mango.


Servings: 8-10
Prep Time: 20-30 mins
Cook Time: 28 mins


For the Cake

  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter; more for the pans
  • 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Unbleached White All Purpose Flour
  • 1­½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1­½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice blend*
  • 1­½ cups granulated sugar
  • ⅔ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅓ cup buttermilk
  • 1½ cups pumpkin puree

For the Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature and softened
  • 4 oz cream cheese, room temperature and softened
  • 2½ to 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons pure maple syrup, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line the bottom of two 9” round cake pans with parchment paper
  2. Make the brown butter: Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling pan occasionally until butter turns a nutty golden-brown, 4-6 mins. Pour into a small bowl & let stand until cool but not set, 15 mins.
  3. Make the batter: In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and pumpkin pie spice blend.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk 1-½ cups of pumpkin purée with granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, & buttermilk until very well blended. Mix or fold in flour mixture until just combined.
  5. Gently whisk in brown butter until completely incorporated. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans.
  6. Bake cakes until tester inserted in center comes out clean, 28 mins. Let cakes cool in pans for 10 mins. Turn cakes out onto cooling racks, remove parchment, and cool completely.
  7. Make the frosting: In a large bowl and using a mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese together on medium speed until smooth and combined, approx 1-2 min. Add in 2 ½ cups powdered sugar and mix on low until combined. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and mix until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 more minutes. Add 3 tablespoons of maple syrup, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice. Mix until smooth and combined. Add in the remaining maple syrup and powdered sugar until desired taste and consistency is achieved.
  8. Assemble cake: Put 1 cake layer on a cake plate or cake stand. Spread half the the frosting on it in an even layer. Top with second layer. Frost top with the remaining frosting. If you want to frost the sides reduce the amount in the middle layer to half cup and then frost the top and sides with remaining frosting or double the frosting recipe if you love frosting as much as I do.

Recipe Notes

  • Storage: This cake will stay moist and fresh-tasting for days. Since it has cream cheese buttercream, it should be kept in the refrigerator, in an airtight container or cake carrier. Let come to room temperature for several hours before serving.
  • For spices: Instead of prepared pumpkin pie spice, you can use ½ teaspoon each: ground nutmeg, ground cloves, ground allspice, and ground ginger. Please adjust amounts according to taste.

Adapted from Epicurious & frosting from Style Sweet Daily

Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake