Kevin sent me this recipe the other day. When I opened the link, I was pretty surprised. He is not a big fan at all of brown butter. One time I tried to make rice crispy treats extra special by making them with brown butter and he basically spit them out when he ate one. He was not very thrilled at all with that birthday treat. One thing he is a big fan of though is…whiskey. Our collection of whiskey, bourbon, rye and other miscellaneous alcohol is quite impressive. So when I continued to read through this recipe I couldn’t help but need to make it. I was so intrigued by the complete lack of spices that are always present in the majority of all fall pumpkin recipes. I also love cake recipes that are only one layer. They are so practical and usually very little cake goes to waste. I can’t tell you how many multilayer cake left overs I’ve thrown away over the years. I think people usually like the first slice as a treat and then forget about it or don’t want to keep indulging. So, a single layer cake is one of my favorite treats. This one is for sure for grown ups, but it is delicious and you will want to make it soon.
The ingredients needed for the cake are 1/2 cup of butter, 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon course sea salt, 3/4 cup light brown sugar, 1 room temperature egg, 1/2 cup pure canned pumpkin, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons bourbon or whiskey and 1/2 cup room temperature heavy cream. The ingredients for the whiskey whipped cream are 3/4 cup of cold heavy cream, 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon bourbon or whiskey. Finally, the ingredients for the toppings are gingersnaps and a sprinkle of flakey sea salt. **I used 1792 for my bourbon – it is my go to for baking – and an added bonus is that it can be found at Target.**
The first step in this recipe calls for browning the butter. The best pan to use is a light colored pan because it is easier to see the toasted flecks in the butter. I put the pan on the stove over medium heat and cooked it until it foamed up and the milk solids in the butter begin to brown. The butter also becomes very fragrant and I made sure to stir it constantly once it started to brown because it is really easy to burn it. Then I poured it into a small glass container and put it in the freezer right away. My butter needed about 35 minutes to solidify but not freeze solid. While the butter was chilling I prepped an 8-inch round cake pan by brushing the sides and bottom with melted butter and placing a round piece of parchment in the bottom. I also preheated the oven to 350 F degrees and whisked together the flour, baking powder and sea salt in a bowl and set it aside until later.
Once the butter was the right consistency, I placed it in a bowl and used my hand mixer to whip it until it was smooth. Then I added my brown sugar and tried to use my hand mixer to cream them together until they were fluffy, but I couldn’t get them to combine correctly. So I switched to my stand mixer and used the paddle attachment to mix them for 3 full minutes. Next, I added in the egg and mixed it in and then mixed in the pumpkin and vanilla. It is okay if the batter looks a little split at this point. After that, I added half the dry ingredients and and beat it just until I couldn’t see any streaks of flour, then I added in the heavy cream and bourbon and mixed it until I couldn’t see any streaks of cream. Finally, I added in the last of the dry ingredients and beat them in again just until I didn’t see any streaks of flour. Then I removed the bowl from my stand mixer and used my spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all the ingredients were properly combined.
I poured the batter into the prepared baking pan and used an offset spatula to even out the top of the batter. Then I picked the pan up and gently dropped it a few times on the counter to get any air bubbles out of the batter. I baked the cake for 28 minutes and checked it with a pairing knife (as you can see in baked cake picture). The knife came out clean so I pulled it out at this point but I think that it could have used 1 more minute to be perfect. I let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then inverted it to finish cooling on the wire rack.
Once the cake was cool I placed the cold heavy cream, the powdered sugar and whiskey in the bowl of my stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. I whipped the cream on high speed until it reached stiff peaks. You have to be really careful though, because stiff peaks can really easily become butter. Next, I placed the whipped cream into a piping bag and piped dollops of cream all over the top of the cake to cover the top. Then I sprinkled flakey sea salt on top of the cream and crunched up the gingersnaps and sprinkled them all over the top.
This cake is seriously one of the most unique and interesting bakes I have made in a long time. The cake is tender and soft. The pumpkin makes it tender and the whiskey flavor is the most prominent flavor that comes through. The whipped cream is so rich and lovely and the crunch from the flakey sea salt and gingersnaps really bring a beautiful balance to the whole cake. Amazingly, I covered the left overs of this cake and put it in the fridge overnight and then let it come back to room temperature and the whipped cream topping didn’t weep at all! The gingersnaps did get pretty soft so I would wait to put those on if you were going to serve this later, but I am amazed by how great this tasted the next day as well. I hope that you make this for a fun Friendsgiving get together, special fall dinner party or even for a non-traditional Thanksgiving dessert. Just know, there probably won’t be many leftovers for later.
Recipe: Pumpkin Brown Butter Whiskey Cake
- 1/2 cup butter (113 grams)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (140 grams)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder (4 grams)
- 1/2 teaspoon course sea salt (1.5 grams)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar (150 grams)
- 1 large room temperature egg
- 1/2 cup pure canned pumpkin (120 grams)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (2.5 grams)
- 2 tablespoons bourbon or whisky – I used 1792 (28 grams)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream (57 grams)
- Whiskey Whipped Cream
- 3/4 cup cold heavy cream (170 grams)
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar (22 grams)
- 1 tablespoon bourbon or whiskey (14 grams)
- Sprinkle of flakey sea salt
- Crushed up gingersnaps (measure that with your heart)
- Brown the butter by placing the butter in a light colored pan and cook over medium heat until it foams and the milk solids get toasty. Mix continuously once it begins to brown to make sure it doesn’t burn – 5 – 7 minutes. Pour the butter immediately into a glass bowl and place into the freezer for about 35 minutes, or until it is firm enough to whip but not solid. If it freezers, leave out at room temperature to become soft again.
- Prepare an 8-inch round cake pan by brushing all the sides with melted butter and place a round piece of parchment in the bottom. Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl for later.
- Once the butter is ready place it in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and beat it until it is smooth.
- Add the brown sugar and cream together for 3 – 5 minutes until it is fluffy.
- Add the egg and mix until it is incorporated, then add the pumpkin and vanilla and beat until combined. It is okay if the mixture looks slightly broken or curdled at this point.
- Pour half of the dry ingredients into the mixer and mix just until no streaks of flour remain. Add the cream and bourbon and mix until no streaks of cream remain, finish with the last of the flour and be sure to stop once there are no streaks of flour left.
- Use a spatula to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure all the ingredients are incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with an offset spatula. Lightly drop the pan on the counter a few times to get rid of any air pockets in the batter.
- Bake for 28 – 30 minutes until the cake is lightly browned and a pairing knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes in the pan on a wire rack and then turn it out of the pan and let it finish cooling on the wire rack.
- Once it is cool, place the cold heavy cream, bourbon and powdered sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on high until stiff peaks form. Be careful to not over beat the cream into butter.
- Pipe the cream onto the top of cake in large dollops and sprinkle flakey sea salt and crushed gingersnaps on top of the heavy cream.
*If you refrigerate the cake, cover if first, but then allow it to come to room temperature for 20 – 30 minutes before enjoying again*
Recipe adapted from Eater