Pumpkin Pie with Butter and Brown Bourbon Crust

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I know I told you that I'm a little addicted to shopping. I love shopping, even if it's just to buy food. For me it is a leisurely activity where I am still being mentally stimulated while I plan recipes in my head (because meal planning makes everything too predictable for me haha) When I go to buy accessories to use in the blog photos I generally buy pieces that inspire me when I look at them. That is what happened when I saw this wooden tray. I looked at it and immediately saw a cake resting there and shot outside. It had to happen. It took me a while to find a good tart and I used the tray in a couple of other posts because I love the look of it, but as soon as this raw pumpkin tart I knew it was the perfect tart for this shot.

Although, OMG, shooting outdoors on a cloudy day is not the easiest thing to do. The clouds create a beautiful diffused light, but I can't share it and there are no shadows anywhere. I had to create my own shadows using my daughter and my little cousin to hold boards and block light. It also started to drizzle a bit. Needless to say, taking these photos was an adventure! This pumpkin pie with nuts is the most delicious cake I've had in a long time. I used a mixture of freshly grated cinnamon and ground cinnamon. Normally, I would say you can use ground cinnamon, but freshly ground cinnamon makes a difference in the world. It makes the aroma addictive and the flavor much more complex. I love Rodelle's cinnamon sticks, but as long as you don't use the cinnamon sticks you found in the back of your pantry, you suspect it might be 2012, you'll be fine. A little ginger and cayenne rounds off the flavor and gives the cake the slightest kick. I also added a little buttermilk, which adds incredible creaminess and flavor.

The brulée makes this cake special and unique and is what unites the flavors of the brown butter bourbon cake crust. It is my favorite part of the cake. My best advice is to add a pinch of salt to your sugar before putting it on top and lighting the torch. The salt balances the sweetness and makes the brulee that much better. Every time you do some brulee, add a pinch of salt!

Yield: 1 9-inch cake

Preparation time: 35 minutes

Time to cook: 50 minutes

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Total time: 1 hour 25 minutes


Edge of the cake

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons * brown butter, frozen and cubed
  • 3 tablespoons of frozen bourbon

pie filling

  • 2 1/2 cups of toasted and crushed pumpkin
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (optional)

Topping Brûlée


  1. Mix the flour, brown sugar and salt and mix well. Cut frozen brown butter until it resembles a thick meal. Slowly add the bourbon and mix until just combined. Convert the dough into plastic wrap and form a disk. Chill for at least an hour (I prefer to chill mine overnight)
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Roll out the crust until it is 1/4 inch thick and place it in a 9-inch cake pan. Trim the edges as necessary. Place the crust in the refrigerator until necessary.
  4. Mix together pumpkin, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, ginger, cayenne pepper, salt, butter, vanilla, eggs, and buttermilk, then beat well. Pour into your cake pan. It will look like a lot of filling, but it will shrink once it's fresh. Bake for 50 – 55 minutes, covering the edges of your cake during the first half of cooking. Let cool completely.
  5. Just before serving, mix the sugar and a pinch of salt and spread an even layer over the cake filling. Use a kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar, or grill your oven if you don't have a kitchen torch. Be sure to constantly keep an eye on your cake if you are using the roasting method as you can easily burn it.


* You will need more butter to create 8 tablespoons of brown butter. I recommend measuring your brown butter to make sure you end up with your 8 tablespoons. Note: The cake must be served within two hours of the brûlée, otherwise the top of the sugar will become soft and sticky. If there are cake scraps, add a little more sugar and salt and shine again to get a nice crispy top again.

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