Pumpkin Layer Cake with Brown Butter Buttercream for Thanksgiving

Pumpkin Layer Cake with Brown Butter Buttercream for Thanksgiving

Moist and delicious pumpkin layer cake with a buttercream that actually contains brown butter and cream cheese, that’s what I am introducing today. Reason for introducing this cake here ist two-fold. Reason #1 has to do with a German blog event I hosted. It had all to do with pumpkin recipes. For that reason I made these delicious pumpkin cookies with cream cheese frosting and also this vegan pumpkin pasta with only two ingredients.

Pumpkin Layer Cake with Brown Butter Buttercream for ThanksgivingReason #2 is that I am going to make this cake for our Thanksgiving. In case you didn’t know, we don’t really celebrate Thanksgiving in Germany. However, my Colombian husband really enjoys cooking (and he is much better at it than me) and announced he wanted to make a turkey for some friends. Obviously I had to prepare the desserts. Thus, this is how our Friendsgiving was born. I prepared this pumpkin cake already a few weeks in advance and froze it, completely prepared. Obviously I made some extra muffins so that I knew what I was serving my guests. This will free up my time to support with the many side dishes that come with Thanksgiving.

As a German I always try to find ways of increasing efficiency and making this cake as quickly as possible. For that reason we are going to make one batch of batter, which we will then pour into the prepared cake pans and muffin tins. We are simply going to take out the muffins earlier than the cakes. However, I am not going to lie, this is definitely not done in a jiffy. If you are looking for a quick and easy solution for Thanksgiving, please look elsewhere. Since I only own two cake pans, I poured double the amount of cake batter into one and baked that one longer. But apart from that, there are not that many shortcuts available, you will still need to brown the butter, prepared the buttercream and make the muffins look like pumpkins.

Pumpkin Layer Cake with Brown Butter Buttercream for ThanksgivingCredit: half baked harvest

Pumpkin Layer Cake with Brown Butter Buttercream for Thanksgiving

Serves: One layer cake with about 20-22cm/6-7inches in size

This pumpkin layer cake with brown butter buttercream for Thanksgiving is made of a simple pumpkin batter and frosted with a buttercream containing brown butter, cream cheese, and cinnamon.


  • Pumpkin Cake and Pumpkins for Decoration
  • 300 grams of canola oil
  • 200 grams of white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, see here how to make your own
  • 6 eggs
  • 640 grams of pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin filling)
  • 560 grams of all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • A good pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons of ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of cardamon
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

  • Buttercream
  • 115 grams of butter + about 110 grams of butter
  • 35 grams of all-purpose flour
  • 160 grams of regular sugar
  • 240 grams/milliliters of milk
  • 200 grams of cream cheese
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon

  • Decorations for the pumpkins
  • 100 grams of icing sugar
  • About 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
  • Water
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks
  • Star anise for decoration



For the pumpkin cake line the bottom of three cake pans (20cm/6inch) with parchment paper and line 6-8 muffin tins with muffin liners. Heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Beat oil, sugar, vanilla extract, eggs and pumpkin puree in a large bowl thoroughly. Add the dry ingredients including spices just until combined. Pour into prepared cake pans and muffin tins. I only have two cake pans and poured a double batter into one. Bake the muffins for about 20 minutes. Bake cake for 35 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. My double batch cake needed about 55 minutes, however, I would ask you to watch closely and check doneness. Let cool completely and release from forms.


Meanwhile for the buttercream melt 115 grams/one stick of butter on medium low for about five minutes on the stovetop. The butter should at some point start smelling nutty and you will see brown specks on the bottom. Turn off heat and immediately transfer to fridge to solidify again. In other bowl combine flour, sugar and milk and bring to boil, constantly stirring. Reduce heat to medium while stirring for another three minutes, then set aside. Take out the solidified brown butter and add additional butter until you have 200 grams in total. Beat this butter mix for about three minutes until creamy. Add the "pudding" you created by the spoonful. Lastly mix in cream cheese and cinnamon just until combined. This buttercream keeps well for a few days and can be prepared a few days in advance if chilled.


For the pumpkins mix the icing sugar with the maple syrup. Only add water by small amounts until you get the right consistency to pour over the muffins. Spread over muffins in the shape of a star. Cut the cinnamon sticks in three parts in press one into the middle of the muffin, which serves as the stem.


Take one cake layer and spread one third of the frosting on it, place second layer on top and spread again about one third. Use the last third to frost the cake from the outside. Place a few pumpkins on the top and decorate side with stern anise (see pictures). I froze the cake as well as the pumpkins fully prepared and intend on taking everything to the fridge the night before. I will bring everything to room temperature a few hours before serving.


Pumpkin Layer Cake with Brown Butter Buttercream for Thanksgiving

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  • Reply
    Monday November 7th, 2022 at 08:48 PM

    Hallo Jenny,
    die sieht ja wirklich klasse aus – Kürbis pur. Und vom Geschmack her klingt das alles auch sehr stimmig. Kompliment!
    Liebe Grüße

    • Reply
      Monday November 7th, 2022 at 08:52 PM

      Danke dir, das ist lieb!

  • Reply
    Saturday January 21st, 2023 at 08:22 AM

    This looks amazing! If you make the buttercream in advance, do you just rewhip it when using? Or do you need to use straight away? Thanks

    • Reply
      Saturday January 21st, 2023 at 07:42 PM

      Hi Abbey, I am excited you want to try it! As written in the instructions, you can make in advance and chill it. Before rewhipping, I would recommend bringing to room temperature. Let me know if you try it!

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