I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: butterscotch is absolutely underrated!
It’s one of my favorite flavors for fall because it just feels like warm sweetness that pairs so well with other autumn fruit and spices.
However, in this recipe the butterscotch is the STAR. There’s a hint of cinnamon in the cake but it’s just there to round out the flavors and balance the sweetness.
The cake layers are made with brown sugar which is the primary ingredient of butterscotch.
Then there’s butterscotch sauce in between every layer of cake. This provides a moist, rich, and gooey texture in every bite. THEN there’s even more butterscotch in the buttercream icing.
How to Make Homemade Butterscotch Cake
How to keep layer cake MOIST
1. Don’t overbake! Start checking the doneness with a toothpick / cake tester at 30 minutes. Also avoid using dark coated cake pans which will dry out the edges.
2. Measure your flour correctly! Compacting too much flour in your measuring cup is shockingly easy to accidentally do, and will lead to a dense or dry cake. Read my article on how to measure flour the right way here.
3. Moist ingredients! Brown sugar and sour cream both help to add a moist flavor as well as a beautiful flavor. You can use plain unsweetened yogurt if you don’t have sour cream.
How to make butterscotch sauce
Butterscotch sauce is what fills the brown sugar cake layers in this recipe. I LOVE to use homemade butterscotch here because it really makes a difference in the taste. Sweet, but not cloying. Plus making butterscotch sauce from scratch is surprisingly easy. Check my homemade butterscotch recipe here.
How to make perfect buttercream
The butterscotch buttercream in this recipe is very straightforward but I have a few tips to ensure smooth sweet perfection.
First make sure your butter is at a cool room temperature. If it’s too cold it won’t get light, fluffy, and creamy. If it’s too warm (if it looks greasy or barely holds its shape) then it will melt onto your cake and be difficult to frost.
Be sure to use finely ground powdered sugar. Some brands are 5x ground and some are 10x ground, you want the latter for a silky smooth texture. SIFT YOUR POWDERED SUGAR! Don’t skip that 🙂
Add salt to taste. I love the salty-sweet invitation butterscotch provides so give your frosting a taste and adjust as needed.
How to assemble and frost a layer cake
For this recipe we bake two cake layers and cut each in half for a total of 4 layers.
Cut each cake layer in half using a wire cake leveler or a sharp serrated knife. Cake layers are easier to work with if they’re slightly chilled.
Place one cake layer on a cake turntable or cake stand. Spread about 1/3 cup of butterscotch sauce all over cake layer, leaving a 1/2-inch border at the edges so it won’t spill over. Repeat with the remaining cake layers.
Place the last cake layer upside-down onto the frosting so that the top of the cake is nice and flat and even. With an offset spatula, crumb coat the assembled cake by spreading a thin layer of frosting evenly all over the cake, scraping off any excess like spackle. When crumb coating never dip your spatula back into your bowl of frosting. This helps avoid getting crumbs in the frosting.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes or freeze for 15 minutes until the crumb coat frosting layer is firm to the touch. Smooth on the remaining frosting and decorate as desired!
How to make a layer cake ahead of time
The butterscotch cake
You can bake the cake layers and store them in advance. Wrap them really well in plastic wrap. Place inside a freezer bag. Store at room temperature for up to 4 days, in the fridge for a week, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Hint: slightly cold cake layers are easier to frost! Less crumbs to catch.
The buttercream frosting
The buttercream can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let come to room temperature and re-whip in the stand mixer until light and fluffy again.
The assembled cake
Since frosting acts as a protective seal that keeps the cake moist and fresh, frosted cakes can be stored at a cool and dry room temperature for 2 to 3 days. Cover with a cake keeper to keep the frosting intact. However, if that makes you nervous you can also store in the fridge. Let come to room temperature before serving. Don’t use plastic wrap, which will not only ruin your frosting application but also create condensation that can cause the frosting to separate.