After much consideration, I have moved this recipe from my “must try” file to my “keepers” folder. Why does a plain-looking loaf like this deserve such an honor, you might wonder.
Well, in addition to copious caramel-like brown sugar nuggets buried throughout, it has a moist crumb and a subtle and cozy flavor. This is not a cloyingly sweet cake. (Although I’ve been known to love a very sweet dessert, too.)
For me, the ideal baked good is one that goes well with a steaming cup of tea. And in specific, my perfect spring afternoon includes a slice of this Brown Butter Pound Cake and a hot mug of English Breakfast.
Since spring has arrived, I find myself frequently thinking, “I can’t believe I made it through winter!” I’m so happy to see leaves on the trees and green shoots growing from the ground. Getting to savor a slice of this cake with verdant greenery all around me is a double bonus.
Although, that is not to say that this cake would be out of place on a blustery fall day or a snowy winter one. In fact, it’s in the keepers file specifically to enjoy this autumn.
Why brown butter? Its singularly delicious flavor is the star in many French savory dishes, and it translates perfectly to baking. I take any chance to turn regular butter into what the French call beurre noisette. It really is that good, and it only takes a few extra steps to imbue this pound cake with brown butter’s special flavor. Follow the instructions in the recipe below for great results.
Turn your tea for one into a great desserts buffet with easy Whole-Wheat Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip, and Carrot Cookies and Upside-Down Pear Chocolate Cake.
Makes 1 (81/2 by 41/2-inch) loaf
- 2 1/4 sticks (9 oz) unsalted butter
- 2 cups sifted cake flour(not self-rising; sift before measuring)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F with a rack in the middle. Butter and lightly flour an 81/2 by 41/2-inch loaf pan.
2. Heat butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until milk solids on bottom are dark brown. Stir while the butter is melting to encourage the browning.
3. Transfer to a shallow bowl and chill in freezer until just congealed, about 15 minutes.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
5. In a large bowl, beat together the chilled brown butter and sugars with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. At low speed, mix in the flour mixture until just incorporated.
6. 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 11/4 hours. Cool in pan 30 minutes, then invert cake onto a rack and cool completely, right side up, 1 hour.