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from my table: brown butter pound cake

September 11, 2011

So I’ve had a bit of a thing this summer for two ingredients whose very names cause me to swoon.

Brown butter.

An alliterative, dreamy pair. Whether in cookies, peach jam, or crispy treats, both add a bit of extra magic and love to whatever I make. It’s sort of like the swish in the skirt; regular skirts are comfortable and lovely, but when you wear a skirt that has a fuller fit that allows you to swish around, it just feels better.

The flavor of this gorgeous, silky pound cake goes against its very name; not heavy or greasy, it’s luscious and heady, imbued with a nutty aroma from the browned bits of butter and a light warmth from a hint of bourbon. I had to give away as much of this as possible the first time I made it, because I would have literally eaten the whole loaf in a matter of hours. It’s pound cake nirvana and the only requirement to achieve it is an hour of your time, a loaf pan, and a stick (or two) of butter.

Oh glory, oh glory. This cake would be lovely served with some of the last of the season’s peaches, lightly sauteed with some brown sugar and a sprinkle of ginger. Slice and devour, my friends. It’s oh so good.

Brown Butter Pound Cake
From Sassy Radish

2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tsp bourbon

Preheat oven to 325°F with rack in middle. Butter and lightly flour an 8 1/2- by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan. Heat butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until milk solids on bottom are a dark chocolate brown. Transfer to a shallow bowl and chill in freezer until just congealed, about 15 minutes.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat together brown butter and sugars with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and then the bourbon. At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just incorporated.


Transfer batter to pan, smoothing top, then rap pan on counter to settle batter. Bake until golden-brown and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Cool in pan 30 minutes, then invert cake onto a rack and cool completely, right side up, 1 hour.


Serves 8 people


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