Double Brown Butter Cake With a Sweet Vanilla Glaze
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 14
Brown the butter ahead of time, as it needs time to cool.
For the cake:
  • 300g (or 1⅓ cup) unsalted butter
  • 320g (or 1½ + 5 teaspoons) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 300g (or 2⅓ cup + 4 teaspoons) all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon table salt
  • 255ml (or 1 cup + 1 tablespoon) buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the glaze:
  • 110g (or ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons) powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon whipping cream
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
Start by browning the butter:
  1. Line a heatproof bowl with baking parchment. There's no need to be neat about it. Just crumble up the parchment, smooth it out again and press it into the bowl. Just make sure the hot butter can't spill out of the bowl later.
  2. Plop the butter in a heavy-bottomed and preferably light colored saucepan.The heavy bottom will make sure the butter heats evenly, while the light color ensures that you can check the color of the butter as it browns. Heat gently over low heat, until the butter has completely melted.
  3. Once the butter has melted, gently allow it to come to a boil. As it boils, the butter will bubble and splatter dramatically, so I always like to place a splatter screen over the pan. Give the butter a good stir with a rubber spatula every now and then, making sure to scrape the sides of the pan.
  4. At some point, the butter will start to foam. This is when you want to watch the butter like a hawk, as it is now undergoing the caramelization process. You will know by the unmistakable, nutty smell that will now fill your kitchen. Because of the foam, it’s very difficult to determine whether the butter has browned enough to your liking, even if you are using a light colored pan. To check it, try clearing away some of the foam with a spoon or take the pan off the heat and use a soup ladle to pour a little of the butter in a clear glass, so you can determine its color.
  5. Once you’re happy with the amount of caramelization, pour the butter in the prepared bowl, so that it cools immediately. If you were to leave the butter in the pan, the residual heat from the pan would continue to cook the butter, causing it to burn. Allow the butter to cool to room temperature undisturbed, then place it in the fridge until cold. Don't stir the butter! You want the milk solids to sink to the bottom!
Boost the brown butter flavor:
  1. Once the butter has chilled, take it out of the bowl and remove the baking parchment.
  2. Using a sharp knife. Cut the dark brown layer of caramelized milk solids off of the thick layer of brown butter and place the milk solids into a small bowl.
  3. Add cubes of the thick, brown butter layer until you have a total of 160g (or ½ cup + 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon). In other words, you're working with 160g (or ½ cup + 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) of boosted brown butter.
  4. Allow the boosted brown butter to come to room temperature. Keep the left-over brown butter for another use.
Once you've boosted the butter, make the cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 155°C/310°F (fan forced oven) and line a 1.6-liter or 6.5-cup loaf pan with baking parchment. I usually lightly butter the pan to help the parchment stick to it.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the brown butter with the sugar and 1 tablespoon of buttermilk. This should take at least 5 minutes. Make sure to scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula every now and then.
  3. Once the mixture is nice and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time, mixing well (4 minutes) after each addition. Again, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl every now and then.
  4. Once all the eggs have been added to the batter, combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine. Combine the buttermilk and vanilla in another bowl. Add one third of the flour mixture to the batter, together with one third of the buttermilk mixture. Mix until combined. Add half of the remaining flour mixture and half of the remaining buttermilk mixture and mix briefly until combined again. Add the remaining flour-mixture and buttermilk-mixture and mix briefly until the batter is smooth.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and tap the pan on the counter to remove any air bubbles and smooth out the surface of the batter. Place in the oven, making sure that the center of the cake pan is in the middle of the oven (I usually place the oven rack on which the cake pan sits in the lower third of the oven).
  6. Bake for about 55 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool to room temperature (or serve warm!).
Once the cake has cooled, make the glaze:
  1. In a small bowl, stir together the powdered sugar, cream, vanilla and salt until smooth.
  2. Pour the glaze over the cooled cake. Serve immediately with napkins or allow the glaze to set a bit first. Enjoy!
You can use the left-over brown butter for lots of different things. Melted, you can drizzle it over pasta or veggies. You can also use it to fry a steak or a piece of salmon. Or whip it up with some powdered sugar and some cinnamon to make an amazing brown butter spread that's delicious on toast!
Recipe by The Tough Cookie at