Brown Sugar Butterscotch Cake

brown sugar butterscotch cakeI’m the kind of woman who bakes her own birthday cake. This year, I wanted a brown sugar cake with butterscotch, and so I made one.

Homemade butterscotch is easier to make than you might think. Mine turned out thicker than I expected this time, probably because I cooked it over higher heat than I should have. Since my sauce ended up thicker and less appropriate for drizzling over the top of my cake, I remedied it by stirring in some heavy cream to thin it out – and it worked very well.

This recipe yields about 3 1/2 cups of batter, which made one 8-inch round cake and two cupcakes. You could easily double it to make two 8-inch rounds for a taller layer cake and would still have some batter left over for cupcakes.

Brown Sugar Cake


  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-inch round cake pan, line the bottom with a circle of parchment, and grease the parchment. Flour lightly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine brown sugar and melted butter, whisking until no lumps remain. Whisk in egg, sour cream, milk, and vanilla until smooth. Slowly whisk in flour mixture until batter is completely smooth; it will be fairly thick.

Pour 3 cups of batter into the pan; make cupcakes with any batter that remains.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in pan for about 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before filling and frosting.

Vanilla Almond Buttercream


  • 12 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tablespoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream*

* You can omit the tablespoon of heavy cream if you like, but I’ve become a big fan of heavy cream in buttercream lately. It yields a very smooth, creamy texture that is easy to pipe and spread. 


In a mixing bowl, beat butter for about 1 minute. Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until all of the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter; this will take a few minutes.

Add vanilla extract and almond extract, beating well to combine, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of your bowl, then add heavy cream and beat for another minute or two.

Butterscotch Sauce

**If your butterscotch has become too thick to drizzle, add heavy cream, about 1 tablespoons at a time, and stir to thin it to a drizzling consistency.

To assemble your cake:

Slice your cake in half lengthwise and handle it very gently; my cake began to crack just a bit when I separated the top from the bottom.

Place one layer upside down on a cake platter and top with frosting, spreading frosting to about 1/4 inch of the edge.

Top frosting with about 1/3 cup of butterscotch sauce. Place the second cake layer on top; frost the top and sides.

Before serving, drizzle slices of cake with butterscotch sauce; you could also just drizzle the sauce over the top of the cake if you like.

Store in the refrigerator for up to three days; bring to room temperature before serving. When storing cakes in the fridge, they can dry out, so it’s best to use them within a day or two once they’re refrigerated.


Butterscotch Sauce

butterscotch sauceHomemade butterscotch is very easy to make. I admit that my first batch, which went into butterscotch cupcakes, turned out better than my second batch; I suspect I cooked this batch on higher heat than I should have, which resulted in a much thicker confection once it cooled.

This sauce turns out best when simmered, rather than actually boiled; use medium-low heat, and look for small to medium-sized bubbles – if you see large bubbles on the surface, turn your heat down slightly to keep the sauce at more of a simmer.

The sauce will thicken as it cools, but should still be easy to drizzle. If you happen to cook your sauce at a higher heat than you should and it turns out too thick to drizzle, simply thin it out using a few tablespoons of heavy cream to get it back to drizzling consistency. It will still taste delicious…believe me.


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in brown sugar, then heavy cream.

Bring mixture to a simmer/gentle boil and cook for 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla extract and salt.

Allow to cool completely before serving. Sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for 1 week.

Oatmeal Butterscotch Chip Cookies

oatmeal butterscotch cookiesThe oatmeal butterscotch chip cookie, also known as an oatmeal scotchie, is a classic cookie that, until today, I had never made.

You’re shocked, I know. How can someone who claims baking prowess never have made a scotchie? Aren’t they the kind of classic that any baker worth her salt should know how to make? The answer is: yes. The are the kind of classic any baker worth her salt should know how to make. And now, I suppose, I’m worth my salt.

The recipe below is slightly adapted from the original one on the package of Nestle butterscotch chips, with a bit more brown sugar and extra vanilla (just like my chocolate chip cookies). Be very careful not to overbake these; you need to pull them from the oven after about 9-10 minutes, even if they still look raw in the middle. Don’t be afraid. They’ll keep baking on the cookie sheet as they cool, and they’ll end up chewy in the middle, which is what you want. Trust me…I’m worth my salt.


  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon plus a few extra sprinkles of cinnamon
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, generously packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 2/3 cup butterscotch chips


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line several baking sheets with foil or parchment.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter on medium speed for about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add white sugar and brown sugar, then cream for about 1 minute before adding eggs and vanilla.

Add flour mixture in two batches, beating to combine, scraping the sides of the bowl a few times.

Stir in oats 1 cup at a time, then stir in butterscotch chips.

Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, drop scoops of dough onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until edges are light brown and centers are still pale and puffy; remove from oven and cool on cookie sheets for about 4-5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.


Butterscotch Pie

butterscotch pieCooking pie filling is a delicate business. Most recipes instruct you to cook your ingredients “until thickened and bubbly” before tempering with the egg yolks. This is a very subjective endeavor, when you think about it. Just how thick and bubbly is thick and bubbly enough, really?

I suspect that I under-cooked my filling for this pie, because it is far less solid than the filling in my vanilla cream pie from a few weeks back. It’s also far less butterscotch-like than I expected…not that it wasn’t very tasty.

Next time, I’ll use dark brown sugar, which in hindsight was probably what the author meant when they wrote “brown sugar” in the recipe. I’ll also cook the filling for a few more minutes, until thicker and bubblier, before tempering the eggs.


  • 1 pie crust
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

To pre-bake the crust:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line a 9-inch pie plate with crust, trim edges, and prick bottom with a fork. Line crust with parchment and fill with dried beans or pie weights; bake for 15 minutes, then remove the beans/weights and parchment and continue baking for another 15 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Allow crust to cool completely before filling.

To make the filling:

Place egg yolks in a large glass measuring cup and beat lightly; set aside. Using a measuring cup will make it easier to pour the tempered egg yolk mixture back into the pan of filling later.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together flour, brown sugar, and milk until very well combined. Cook until thickened and bubbly, stirring frequently. Once bubbles form, cook and stir 1 minute more.

Remove from heat and slowly pour about 1 cup of the filling mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to temper. Pour egg yolk mixture back into the pan of hot filling and bring to a very gentle boil. Cook and stir 2 minutes more.

Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla extract until very well combined.

Pour filling into cooled pre-baked crust and gently press plastic wrap on the top of the filling. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving; my pie was refrigerated overnight.