This butterscotch cake is a rich cake with a deep butterscotch flavor made with dark brown sugar, then covered in a creamy butterscotch frosting.
If you look back on your childhood and remember that old-fashioned cooked butterscotch pudding fondly, then I hope this cake brings you back.
This cake is packed full of butterscotch flavor. From the pudding that’s added, to the deliciously decadent dark brown sugar. It’s a cake that’s not your usual cake and one the family will love.
The butterscotch frosting is so creamy and delicious and has a wonderful caramel flavor thanks to the added melted butterscotch chips.
Hey there! Before you scroll, there’s lot’s of important stuff in the post!…including the FAQ section, which may answer any questions you might have about this recipe. Enjoy!
Now let’s talk a little about the ingredients that are in this cake and frosting. (The list of all ingredients are in the recipe card below.)
Butterscotch Instant Pudding: This will go in both the cake and the frosting. Although the dark brown sugar will give the cake a boost of butterscotch flavor, the pudding mix will give it just an additional kick.
Don’t forget to reserve a tablespoon for the frosting.
Dark Brown Sugar: This is the main ingredient and it’s what will give it that butterscotch cake. It’s really important not to substitute this ingredient as it’s vital to getting a caramel-like flavor.
Unsalted Butter: You’ll use this in both the cake and the frosting. It’s best to use real butter and not margarine as it really adds rich flavor to the cake.
Mixing Method Notes:
Let’s talk a little about the mixing method. (The exact instructions are in the recipe card below.)
This cake calls for the creaming method, which just means you’ll first cream the butter and sugar together really well to incorporate air.
Next, you’ll mix all the liquid ingredients in one bowl and the dry ingredients in another bowl.
Then you’ll alternately add in the liquid and dry ingredients. Add a third of the dry first, then half the liquid, dry, liquid, and end with dry again. (Don’t worry, the recipe card will have all the details and will walk you through it.)
The main takeaway is to not mix this batter too long. Any scratch cake that’s mixed too long can come out too dense.
Once it’s mixed, you’ll bake in a 13×9 inch pan.
Mixing up the frosting is straightforward. You’ll just want to make sure to melt the butterscotch chips ahead of time so that it can cool off a bit before making the buttercream.
Next, you’ll just cream the melted chips and butter together well and add in the other ingredients.
Tips & FAQs:
This cake is made using dark brown sugar which gives it a nice deep butterscotch and caramelly flavor. You’ll also add in a bit of butterscotch pudding mix to give it a boost of flavor and then it’s topped off with buttercream frosting made with a touch of butterscotch pudding mix and melted butterscotch chips.
Use the instant butterscotch pudding. Don’t use the sugar-free, or the cook and serve pudding mix.
You don’t want to actually mix up the pudding mix per the box instructions. You will just use it dry to the cake batter and the frosting.
Unsalted butter is best as you can better predict how much salt is added to the cake batter and frosting. If you can’t get unsalted butter, then feel free to use salted butter, but omit any salt that the recipe calls for both in both the cake and the frosting.
You really don’t want to substitute the butter for something else. This cake really depends on the rich flavor of the butter. It combines with the dark brown sugar and that’s what helps give it that butterscotch taste.
For both the cake and the frosting, make sure that the butter is almost room temperature. Don’t microwave it or melt it, just let it sit out of the fridge to come to room temperature.
Use dark brown sugar if you can get it. It will give it that deep caramel flavor.
You can and the cake will still taste good, but the flavor will not be as deep and butterscotchy as if you’d used the dark brown sugar.
You can find these on the baking aisle at various grocery stores. They’re usually where the chocolate chips are located.
Melt the butterscotch chips ahead of time and let them cool a bit before making the frosting.
No, you can omit that ingredient, however the frosting will not have as much butterscotch taste.
This cake can be stored for a day at room temperature, covered well. After that, store in the refrigerator, well covered.
This cake will last about 6 days if kept covered and in the refrigerator.
I have not tested this recipe out as cupcakes, but it may work just fine. You’ll want to fill cupcake liners about ⅔ of the way full and bake at 350 degrees. Start checking for doneness around 20 minutes.
I have not tested this recipe out as a layer cake, but it should work just fine if using two 8″ round cake pans. Bake at 325 degrees and start checking for doneness at about 40 minutes although it may need to bake for a little longer. A toothpick inserted into the middle should come out with a few moist crumbs, but no raw batter.
This cake should be just fine if frozen correctly. Wrap either the 13×9 inch cake or the round cake layers in plastic wrap, then in foil to prevent freezer burn. This cake can be frozen for up to a month.
To defrost, set the wrapped cake onto the counter and let defrost while still wrapped (about a couple of hours). Once defrosted, take the wrappings off and add frosting.
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Ok, let’s get to the recipe!
***I write recipes using volume (cups) measurements because here in the U.S., this is what people are used to seeing and using. For weight in metric measurements, click the ‘metric’ button under the ingredients in the recipe card. The weights are converted by a program, not me, and it’s a best guess. Please note that because I develop recipes using ‘cups’ I can’t guarantee that weighing the ingredients will produce the exact same results.
Butterscotch Cake with Butterscotch Frosting
For the cake:
- 2 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
- 3.4 oz butterscotch instant pudding mix (reserve 1 tablespoon for the frosting)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (2 sticks)
- 1 ⅔ cup packed dark brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 ¼ cup milk
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste)
For the frosting:
- 1 ½ cups unsalted butter, room temperature (3 sticks)
- 1 cup butterscotch chips, melted (measure before melting)
- 1 tablespoon butterscotch instant pudding mix (reserved from the cake earlier)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 5 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste)
- 2-3 tablespoons milk
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Farenheight.
- Grease or spray a 13×9 inch pan and set aside.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and package of butterscotch pudding mix (making sure to reserve one tablespoon of the mixture for the frosting). Whisk well and set aside.
- In another bowl, add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Whisk well.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the room temperature butter and the brown sugar.on medium high for about two minutes.
- Alternately add the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the butter and sugar. (Add in ⅓ of the flour mixture and mix on medium just until combined. Add in ½ the milk mixture, mix on medium just until combined. Continue with another ⅓ of the flour mixture, mix, then the last of the milk mixture mix, then the last of the flour mixture and mix.) Mix only until well combined. Mixing for a couple minutes at this point will cause the cake to come out dense.
- Scrape down sides of the bowl and mix again only for about 10 seconds.
- Bake at 325 degrees for about 45-50 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the middle will come out with a few moist crumbs on it, but no liquid batter.
- Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack completely before adding frosting.
For the frosting:
- Melt the butterscotch chips for about 20 seconds at a time. Mix until smooth and set aside to cool a bit before making the frosting.
- Add the butter, and cooled down, melted butterscotch chips to a mixing bowl and beat until smooth.
- Add three cups of confectioners sugar and beat on medium until smooth.
- Add in 2 tablespoons of milk plus vanilla extract and the last two cups of confectioners sugar plus the salt and beat again until smooth.
- Add in the tablespoon of butterscotch pudding mix and mix well.
- If the buttercream is too thin, mix in another cup of confectioners sugar. If it's too thick, add in another tablepsoon of milk and mix well.
- Spread frosting onto completely cooled cake.
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