Monday, November 28, 2011

Brown Sugar Brown Butter Birthday Cake

Birthdays are so much fun to celebrate, especially when they are close to holidays. Maybe I’m wrong, but it makes your birthday seem extra special when it’s on a special event, I think. However, I have met some people that hate having their birthdays near the holidays, especially Christmas, because the day isn’t about them and Christmas and Birthday presents are intermingled and all that. Everyone in my family has a birthday close to the holidays, well everyone except my sister. My dad was born around Father’s day, which means every once in a while he gets to have an extra special day of peace and quiet; my dog was born on Halloween, which means she doesn’t get chastised for eating people food (it’s her little birthday treat); I was born 12 days after Christmas (the Epiphany); and my mom was born around Thanksgiving, and this year her birthday happened to fall on the 4th Thursday of the month, Turkey Day!

My dad asked me if I wanted to make my mom’s cake this year or should we just get it from the store. I opted for baking the cake because I don’t like the store frosting and I can manipulate whatever flavors I want into the cake. The first thing that came to mind for my mom was a brown sugar cake. I don’t know what it is about brown sugar, but I absolutely love it!

So, on Thanksgiving morning, I woke up at 6:15 am in order to get to work on her birthday cake. The recipe I used would make a 3 layer cake, and I figured that because it’s Thanksgiving, no one is going to have room for a 3 layer cake, so I cut the recipe into thirds and because not everything cuts evenly, I apologize in advance for the wonky amounts of ingredients. Also, I made this cake in an 8.5x4.5 in loaf pan to accommodate for only four people eating it.

The recipe called for brown butter, which I have only worked with brown butter once before, and I can’t remember which recipe it was. I was a little nervous about the butter burning, so I think I took it off the stove a little too early because it was more of a honey color, but no matter. The batter came together perfectly. It was probably the silkiest batter I have ever laid my eyes on and it poured into the loaf pan like a dream.

The final product was even better! I was a little anxious about it being over done because I had to experiment with cooking times on a count of me using a different pan, but when I sliced into the cake after the meal, it was perfectly moist and soft and everything a cake should be! The taste was fabulous too. Even after such a big meal, the cake was halfway gone in mere minutes. This cake was seriously addicting, so go on, what are you waiting for? Go make this cake for someone you love or you could make it for yourself and not share.

Brown Sugar Brown Butter Birthday Cake

1 ¼ cup unbleached all purpose flour
½ tsp + 1/8 tsp baking soda
1/3 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
¾ cup brown sugar
5 tbsp unsalted butter
½ cup
1 egg + 1 egg white
2/3 tsp vanilla extract


  1. In a saucepan over medium low heat, melt the butter completely. Then let it continue to cook until it turns golden brown in color. Don’t stir, but swirl the pan periodically to ensure it browns easily. Keep your eyes on it, you don’t want it to burn. When browned, put in the fridge to solidify. This will take about 20-30 minutes. You want the butter to still be soft, but not liquid.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 8.5x4.5 in loaf pan.
  3. Sift the all purpose flour a few times. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sifted flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the brown sugar, brown butter, and ¼ cup + 2 tbsp of the buttermilk. Mix on medium speed until smooth.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, egg white, the remaining 2 tbsp buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Add to the mixer in two additions, mixing after each until just combined. You will need to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Then turn the mixer up to medium high and beat for a few minutes until smooth.
  5. Pour batter into prepared loaf tin. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 28 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, before inverting onto a cake pan to cool completely before glazing.
Maple Glaze
from Joy the Baker

1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tsp maple syrup
2 tbsp milk


  1. Dump the confectioners sugar into a medium-sized bowl. Pour on the maple syrup and milk. Stir with a spoon until the glaze falls down in a ribbon. Set the cake over parchment paper (or serving platter if you wish the have luscious pools of glaze surrounding your cake) and spoon over the cake, letting the glaze drip down the sides. Let stand for a few minutes for the glaze to harden.


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