Filed Under: Cakes & Cupcakes | Fall

Butterscotch Cake

Recipe By Tessa Arias
  |  
September 24th, 2019
5 from 3 votes
5 from 3 votes

How to Make AMAZING Butterscotch Cake from scratch! Super moist and tender brown sugar sour cream cake layers filled with thick homemade butterscotch sauce and finished with butterscotch buttercream!

Yield: 8 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook: 35 minutes

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: Sweet without being cloying.
Texture: The cake is ultra tender and moist and each bite has gooey butterscotch sauce and creamy icing!
Ease: A little more involved and time consuming but totally worth it. Would be a great weekend baking project!
Pros: Amazingly delicious cake everyone will love.
Cons: None!!
Would I make this again? 100%

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.

Butterscotch cake from scratch on a serving plate on a table

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.

Slice of layer cake being cut out on a platter

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.

Can you say HEAVEN?!

Ultra rich, tender, and moist Butterscotch layer cake slice on a plate with a bite taken out

How to Make Homemade Butterscotch Cake

Brown sugar cake batter ready for the cake pan

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

Butterscotch buttercream frosting for icing a cake

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.

More Butterscotch Recipes

Butterscotch Sauce (used in this recipe!)

Butterscotch Bundt Cake

5 from 3 votes

How to make
Butterscotch Cake

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
How to Make AMAZING Butterscotch Cake from scratch! Super moist and tender brown sugar sour cream cake layers filled with thick homemade butterscotch sauce and finished with butterscotch buttercream!

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 2 1/2 cups (318 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 sticks (227 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (227 grams) sour cream or plain yogurt, at room temperature

For the frosting:

  • 2 cups (250 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 sticks (227 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (use more or less depending on how salty your butterscotch is)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups butterscotch sauce, homemade or prepared, divided

Directions

Make the cake layers:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter, flour, and line two 8-inch cake pans with parchment circles.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
  3. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugars and beat on high speed for 3 to 4 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs and beat on medium-high speed until combined.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour, mixing just until combined. Do not overmix. Batter will be thick.
  5. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 20 minutes in pans before turning out onto a cooling rack. For easier frosting, freeze the cake layers until firm.

Make the frosting:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase the speed to medium and beat for another 2 minutes. Add the salt, vanilla, and 1/3 cup of the butterscotch and beat on medium for 2 minutes, or until thoroughly combined.

Assemble the cake:

  1. Cut each cake layer in half using a wire cake leveler or a sharp serrated knife.
  2. 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. Repeat with the remaining cake layers.
  3. Place the last cake layer upside-down onto the frosting so that the top of the cake is nice and flat. 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. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or freeze for 15 minutes until the crumb coat frosting layer is firm. Smooth on the remaining frosting and decorate as desired.
  4. Serve or cover and store in the fridge for up to 2 days. Let come to room temperature for an hour before serving.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: buttercream, fall

Photos by Ashley McLaughlin.

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Find Tessa on  

Leave a Comment & Rating

Add a Review or Question

*Please select a rating to complete your comment.

  1. #
    Anamika @ Supplement Crunch — September 27, 2019 at 2:29 am

    These sound fabulous! Love that icing especially ………..

  2. #
    Connie — September 29, 2019 at 6:44 pm

    I love butterscotch, and so does my boyfriend, so when I saw this recipe, I knew I had to make this! And I am so happy I did. First of all, the butterscotch was super easy to make and it’s So. Freaking. Good! I added bourbon, and it really takes it to another level! The cake itself is so moist and flavorful and the layers of butterscotch just really compliment each other. And the buttercream, omg. I made this for my boyfriend’s birthday celebration and everyone raved about it! I got so many compliments, even from a friend who said she doesn’t really like butterscotch! And of course, my boyfriend loved it, so I’m a pretty happy baker!

Join the Handle the Heat Community

Join the Handle the Heat Community
Do you want a more delicious life?
Instead of digging through cookbooks and magazines and searching the internet for amazing recipes, subscribe to Handle the Heat to receive new recipe posts delivered straight to your email inbox. You’ll get all the latest recipes, videos, kitchen tips and tricks AND my *free* Cookie Customization Guide (because I am the Cookie Queen)!

Instagram

As Seen On....
NPR People Time Glamour Readers Digest The Huffington Post BuzzFeed
Join the Baking Challenge! Join the Baking Challenge!   Learn More
close
open