A Southern Grace: (brown) butter me up

October 6, 2016

(brown) butter me up


I don't take advantage of the tasty complexity of brown butter frequently enough.

The sad truth is that it's because I'm lazy.

That's an extra step, you guys! With another dish to clean! Sometimes I get inspired, though, and deem the added effort worthwhile. This snack cake is a delicious example of an occasion when I can spare a few minutes and wash up one more pan. Yep, I'm definitely on a cake kick.

This is a very interesting cake. There is no leavening agent except eggs, yet the cake achieves plenty of lift and has a unique, almost creamy texture. I've never used sweetened condensed milk inside a cake batter (tres leches cake doesn't count!), and though I had doubts, I should've known better than to question Posie Harwood! Everything came together swimmingly.

One bite of this cake will convince you to use brown butter more often. That rich nuttiness is so delicious, and it really takes a standard butter cake to whole new level. I'm not just saying that because I need to justify the extra effort. I used homemade cherry jam for my colorful swirls, and next time I intend to use a less chunky option and also add a little bit more. Though this cake is decadent enough to eat without accompaniment, I will admit to desiring a little whipped cream on a slice or two.

Brown Butter Cake with Red Jam
Very slightly adapted from this recipe
(printable recipe)
Serves 10-12
  • 10 tablespoons butter at room temperature, divided
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for the baking dish
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 7 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup jam (I used homemade cherry!)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch square pan (or equivalent) and sprinkle sugar to coat the bottom and sides.
Melt 5 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat until it begins to brown and smell nutty. As soon as you see it browning, remove it from the heat, and set it aside to let cool.
Cream together the remaining 5 tablespoons of room temperature butter with the sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla. Mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go.
Add the condensed milk and beat until the batter is smooth.
Add the 5 tablespoons of melted, cooled butter and fold it in (the batter might look too liquidy—it will come together!).
Add the salt and flour and mix until the batter is just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. If your jam is very thick, warm it slightly, just enough that it loosens a bit.
Spoon dollops of jam over the surface of the pan and use a knife to swirl the jam across the surface of the cake.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Err on the side of not-quite-done rather than over-baking!
Let the cake cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting and serving, or turning out into a wire rack to cool completely.


Angie's Recipes said...

I am too lazy to make brown butter though I know it's super delicious. This must be really yum with homemade cherry jam.

Pam said...

I love brown butter, but I find myself too lazy to make it sometimes too. This cake look yummy! I love that you used homemade jam in there.

Królowa Karo said...

It sounds really very good!

Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies said...

lol... good to know I am not the only lazy baker out there. And another dirty dish? This recipe does sound worth it though.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I started keeping a batch of browned butter in the fridge. Most delicious, dangerous move ever lol. This look fab Grace!

Jenn said...

I typically brown butter by accident. 😳 I should save it for this cake next time that happens.

Summer said...

This looks so soft, delish and ready to eat ♥

Pam said...

I agree with you, a little too lazy to go that extra step sometimes. The cake sounds delicious though and a must try!

Gloria Baker said...

This look delicious and beauty Grace !!

Food Gal said...

Mmm, I can smell the nuttiness of the brown butter from here. Brown butter is such a godsend -- it adds such a depth to sweet or savory dishes. You have to watch it closely on the stovetop, but it's worth it. ;)

Tania | My Kitchen Stories said...

oh now that just looks totally delicious. Moist and completely irresistable

Barbara said...

That looks divine! Anything with condensed milk in it just has to be delicious. And I love that browned butter flavor too. What a fabulous recipe, Grace. Very British with the jam!

Katerina said...

Sweetened condensed milk is something I have started using quite often in my baking and pastry! This is a lovely cake. Adding it to my list!

Beth said...

Brown butter is always worth the extra work, and I love the idea of pairing it with cherries. My inspiration for the day!

Adina said...

I could bite right into that piece, it looks delicious, such a beautiful crumb. I've never made brown butter....

Marjie said...

Beautiful cake! I love snack cakes, without frosting, but am a definite minority in this household! I might just try yours one of these days soon!

Natalie @ Obsessive Cooking Disorder said...

I have to admit I did brown butter once but the effort was just too much. You've inspired me to try again!

Inger @ Art of Natural Living said...

You know I never realized it, but I'll bet the "extra step" part is why I shy away from browned butter too. This looks great though.

Marcelle said...

Grace, this cake looks delicous! Cherry jam sounds so good. I don't think you can go wrong brown butter. I love it, but I haven't made it much either!!