Brown Butter Cake with Brown Butter Frosting
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves 10-12. Bear in mind that you will need to wait for the brown butter to chill, so think about browning the butter the day before.
For the cake:
  • 280g (or 1¼ cup) unsalted butter*
  • 290g (or 1⅓ cup + 2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 290g (or 2⅓ cup) all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 110ml (½ cup minus 2 teaspoons) whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the glaze:
  • 55g (or ¼ cup) unsalted butter**
  • 125g (or 1 cup) powdered sugar
  • 5 teaspoons hot water
  • 2 drops of vanilla extract
Start by browning the butter:
  1. plop the butter in a heavy-bottomed and preferably light colored saucepan. The heavy bottom ensures the butter heats evenly, while the light color enables you to monitor the color of the butter as it browns. Heat the butter gently over low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted.
  2. Once the butter has melted completely, allow it to come to a rolling boil. As it boils, the butter will bubble and splatter dramatically, so you may want to place a splatter screen over the pan. Give the bubbling butter a good stir with a rubber spatula every now and then, scraping the sides and bottom of the pan as you go.
  3. After about 5 minutes, the biggest bubbles will disappear and the butter will start to foam. This is when it the milk solids in the butter will caramelize, so keep a close eye on the butter!
  4. You can tell the butter is browning because it will start to smell nutty and toasty.
  5. Because of the foam, it may be difficult to determine whether the butter has browned enough to your liking, even if you are using a light colored pan. To check the color of the butter, try clearing away some of the foam with a spoon or take the pan off the heat and use a soup ladle to ladle a little of the butter in a glass. The milk solids in the butter (little dark specks) will have turned a dark golden brown when it's ready.
  6. Once you’re happy with the caramelization, pour the butter in a heatproof bowl, scraping the milk solids into the bowl with the butter, and give it a good stir to cool the butter slightly and stop the caramelization process. If you were to leave the butter in the pan, the residual heat from the pan would continue to cook the butter, which may cause the butter to burn.
  7. Allow the butter to cool to room temperature, stirring it every now and then with a rubber spatula, then place it in the fridge until cold. Once cold, resoften the butter at room temperature for 30-45 minutes.
Make the cake:
  1. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and preheat the oven to 175°C/350°F. Lightly butter a 21x11-cm/8x4.5-inch (2-liter/2-quart) loaf pan and dust is with a tablespoon of flour.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the brown butter with an electric mixer until creamy and lightened in color. Add the sugar and continue to beat for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture looks fluffy. Make sure to scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula every now and then.
  3. Once the mixture is fluffy, add the eggs one at a time, mixing well (about 2 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 flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl and stir to combine. Combine the milk and vanilla in another bowl.
  5. Add half the flour mixture to the batter and fold with a rubber spatula until somewhat incorporated. Mix with the mixer until the batter looks smooth. Add the milk mixture and mix with the mixer until combined and mixture looks smooth. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix well, 1-2 minutes, until the mixture looks smooth. Make sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula every now and then as you mix.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Rap the pan sharply on the counter to remove any air bubbles.
  7. Bake the cake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes of baking, cover the top of the cake loosely with aluminum foil to prevent the cake from browning too much. Bake for another 20 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 for 15 minutes in the pan before turning cake out on a wire rack. Allow cake to cool to room temperature before frosting.
Make the frosting:
  1. Following the same process as described in steps 1-6 of the 'Start by browning the butter' section of this recipe, brown the butter in a small saucepan.
  2. Add the powdered sugar to the hot, melted brown butter. Whisk until incorporated. Add the water one teaspoon at a a time (mixing well after each addition). Add vanilla and whisk until the mixture looks smooth. You're making a water-in-fat emulsion here, so it's important to add the liquids slowly and to whisk well. If the mixture separates, whisk until the mixture comes together.
  3. Using the back of a spoon, slather the frosting on top of the cake. Place the cake in the fridge for about 20 minutes, or until the frosting has firmed up. Cut into slices and serve.
  4. Cake keeps, stored in an airtight container in the fridge, for up to 3 days.
* or 230g brown butter
** or 45g hot melted brown butter
Recipe by The Tough Cookie at