Yield: 8″ pumpkin spice sheet cake // Total Time: 1 hr. // Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links. //

Moist brown butter pumpkin spice cake topped with a brown butter cream cheese frosting.

brown butter pumpkin spice cake

If you’re looking for a super simple fall cake that’s sure to be a crowd pleaser, look no further than this brown butter pumpkin spice cake! If you’ve perused around my blog before, you’ve probably noticed that I love using brown butter. I mean, it’s so easy to make and such an easy way to add even more flavor into your bakes with ingredients you’re already using.

The cake is *so* moist, filled with brown butter and pumpkin spice flavor. It’s topped off with the most creamy, flavorful brown butter cheesecake frosting for the ultimate compliment. Top it with little decorative pumpkins for a more adorable treat! If you’re not the best at decorating, don’t be intimidated by the pumpkins – I clearly am not the best either but I was determined! Below you’ll find some tips and tricks on how to nail this delicious fall recipe down. Happy baking!

recipe tips

weigh your ingredients

Weighing your ingredients is important for getting the recipe perfect and getting consistent results. Not weighing your ingredients can lead to adding too much or too little of an ingredient which can give you some undesirable results. This kitchen scale is super cheap and worked well for me when I was starting out! If you don’t have access to a scale, here is the best way to measure flour: fluff up the flour with a fork, then use a spoon to scoop it into your measuring cup. Use a knife to level off the top of the cup, then use as directed.

mix the batter carefully

After adding in your flour, you’ll want to be careful to only mix until that last streak of flour disappears into the batter to avoid over-mixing. Over-mixing your batter leads to developing more gluten in the batter, which will make the bread more tough and chewy.

room temperature ingredients

It is important for the ingredients to be at room temperature so that they properly incorporate with each other. If you have ever had your batter look curdled, it is most likely due to the ingredients separating from being at different temperatures. Take out the eggs and sour cream at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hr 30 min. before starting the recipe. A little hack that I do is to run the eggs under hot water for 1 minute to bring them to room temp. and microwave the sour cream in 5-second intervals until it’s no longer cold (but not hot.)

keep a close eye on the cake!

Baked goods love to go from underbaked to overbaked in what seems like a split second. Start checking at the cake with a toothpick around 25 minutes. The cake is done when only a few moist crumbs stick to the toothpick, or if the toothpick comes out clean.

ingredients and substitutions

For the pumpkin spice cake:

Unsalted butter: for tenderizing the cake and giving it that classic buttery taste. We’ll make brown butter to make this cake even more flavorful and delicious. You can substitute in salted butter, just be sure to omit the extra salt.

Vegetable oil: makes the cake even more tender and delicious. You can sub in any neutral oil, such as canola, in its’ place.

Light brown sugar: for sweetening, flavor, and for moisture.

Granulated sugar: for sweetening the cake and keeping it moist.

Eggs: for moisture, structure, and binding the batter together.

Vanilla: for flavor.

Pumpkin puree: for flavor and moisture! Make sure the ingredients on the can only say “pumpkin”, and that you are not using pumpkin pie filling.

Sour cream: for moisture and for keeping the cake tender. You can substitute in buttermilk or greek yogurt if needed.

All purpose flour: the structure of the cake. I would not recommend using cake flour as the cake is already super fluffy and tender using the all purpose.

Baking powder: for helping the cake rise.

Salt: for balancing and bringing out the sweetness of the cake.

Pumpkin pie spice: for flavor! You can replace it with cinnamon, or omit it all together if you’re not a fan.

For the brown butter cream cheese frosting:

Cream cheese: the base of the cheesecake frosting! The tanginess from the cream cheese compliments the sweetness of the frosting and cookies so well.

Unsalted butter: a little bit of butter helps thicken up the frosting.

Salt: a little bit of salt helps balance the sweetness and bring out the flavor of the frosting.

Vanilla & heavy cream: for flavor and for thinning out the frosting.

how to make pumpkin spice cake

Here is what the pumpkin spice cake should look like at various points in the baking process. You can find the full recipe with instructions at the end of this blog post.

  • Make the brown butter. It’s super simple – all you need to do is melt the butter over the stove, then keep stirring it occasionally until it turns brown and develops little brown specks.
  • Mix in the vegetable oil and sugars.
  • Mix in the eggs, sour cream, and pumpkin.
  • Followed by the dry ingredients.
  • Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or just with a few moist crumbs.
  • Spread the brown butter cream cheese frosting over the cooled cake and decorate with mini pumpkins (optional.) Serve and enjoy!

pumpkin spice cake q&a

can I double this recipe?

Definitely! Simply double all of the ingredients then split the batter between two 8″ square pans.

how to store pumpkin spice cake

This cake will taste the best and most fresh on the day that it is baked, but will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 days. You’ll want to store it in the fridge for the best food safety practice, since the frosting contains cream cheese! If you don’t like cold cake (understandable!), you can pull a slice out and let it sit for 30 min – 1 hr. before eating it.

why do you measure in grams?

My recipes are all written in grams because it is the most accurate way to bake. When you use a kitchen scale, you ensure that your baked goods turn out as close to the written recipe as possible. Plus, the cleanup is way easier when using a scale! I will provide standard cup measurements but please note that I have not tested the recipe using cup measurements and therefore can not guarantee your recipe will come out how mine did. Here is my favorite kitchen scale.

a note on oven temperature

Ovens vary and fluctuate in temperature and aren’t always at the temperature they claim to be. If you love to bake like I do, I highly recommend getting an oven thermometer. They are super helpful for letting you know when your oven might be lying to you! I use this one.

tools and ingredients

You can find all my favorite tools and ingredients that I use on my Amazon Storefront page, here!

did you make this pumpkin spice cake?

If you made this pumpkin spice cake I would love to see it and know your thoughts! Please leave a comment and review down below, and tag me on Instagram @freshbeanbakery. If you have any questions about the recipe I will gladly do my best to answer them in the comments below!

Pumpkin Spice Cake

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Moist brown butter pumpkin spice cake topped with a brown butter cheesecake frosting and adorable little pumpkins!
Prep Time45 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time1 hour 15 minutes
Servings1 8″ cake

Ingredients  

Brown Butter

  • 210 g unsalted butter (15 tbsp.)

Pumpkin Spice Cake

  • 113 g brown butter (½ c.)
  • 36 g vegetable oil (3 tbsp.)
  • 105 g light brown sugar (½ c.)
  • 50 g granulated sugar (¼ c.)
  • 2 eggs room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 280 g pumpkin puree (1 ¼ c.)
  • 60 g sour cream (¼ c.) room temperature
  • 180 g all purpose flour (1 ½ c.)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 140 g cream cheese (½ c. + 2 tbsp.)
  • 56 g brown butter room temperature (4 tbsp.)
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 210 g powdered sugar (1 ¾ c.)
  • 1 tbsp. heavy whipping cream

Instructions 

Brown Butter

  • In a small saucepan set over medium heat, brown the butter. Stir the butter occasionally until it turns amber in color and develops little brown specks.
  • Remove the butter from the heat and chill it in the freezer for 5 minutes.

Pumpkin Spice Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C. Butter and line an 8" square pan* with parchment paper.
  • Pour 113g of the brown butter into a medium sized mixing bowl, then whisk in the oil and both sugars. Set the remaining brown butter aside.
  • Add in both eggs and the vanilla, and whisk until well combined.
  • Whisk in the pumpkin puree and sour cream.
  • Add in the flour, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet, just until no flour streaks remain.
  • Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

  • In a small bowl, beat together the cream cheese, room temperature brown butter, and salt until the mixture is smooth.
  • Add in half of the powdered sugar and beat until combined, then beat in the rest of the powdered sugar.
  • Mix in the heavy cream and vanilla.
  • (Optional) Set aside a small amount of frosting to make little pumpkins on top. Dye some of the frosting orange, and some green. Transfer each color to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip.
  • Once the cake has fully cooled to room temperature, spread the brown butter cream cheese frosting over it. Decorate with mini pumpkins, then serve, and enjoy!

Notes

*You can also use an 8″ circle pan, or a 9″ circle pan. Note that it may take a little less time to bake in a larger pan, and it will be thinner.

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