Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Brown Butter Cake with Vanilla Bean Icing and Salted Caramel

Brown Butter Layer Cake with Vanilla Bean Icing & Salted Caramel
Last week was my blog's birthday and this week it's my husbands birthday! And even though the last week was nuts (I made my first wedding cake), I was determined to make him this cake. I had a dream about it. I'm not kidding. And when I dream about a dessert, it has to be made.
Brown Butter Layer Cake with Vanilla Bean Icing & Salted Caramel
He is not a sweet-tooth at all so most of my desserts are wasted on him, but he does love caramel. So I knew he was going to enjoy any cake so long as it was covered in masses of caramelly goodness. I'm all about the brown butter cake at the moment and this seemed like a good time to make it again. I kept the icing simple since there was enough going on with the cake and caramel, just regular butter icing with vanilla bean.
Brown Butter Layer Cake with Vanilla Bean Icing & Salted Caramel
Ooh yeah, look at that ooey, gooey mess. Usually caramel makes my teeth hurt, but salted caramel makes my heart sing. That might actually be my arteries complaining but whatever. I cannot stress how much I love this brown butter cake. It smells amazing, it tastes amazing and it's just crazy what a difference in flavour and aroma it makes when you heat that butter until it's golden brown.
Brown Butter Layer Cake with Vanilla Bean Icing & Salted Caramel
I made the most of the new skinny cake tins that I bought for the wedding cake, because I love me a tall, skinny cake. But the recipe should still work fine for a shorter, regular-sized cake. I made sure to make a thicker version of the salted caramel sauce I usually make, because I wanted the caramel to ooze enough to go down the sides of the cake but not run off the cake completely. It makes it a little messy to pour it on at first because it's so sticky and slow to pour, but it sets really nicely in the fridge. You might notice that he was a good husband and let his weirdo blogging wife cut into his birthday cake so that all of you get a pretty innards shot of the cake. Best husband.
Brown Butter Layer Cake with Vanilla Bean Icing & Salted Caramel
Brown Butter Cake with Vanilla Bean Icing and Salted Caramel
(makes a 4-layer 6"/15cm or a 3-layer 7"/18cm cake)
For the brown butter cake:
300g (2 & 2/3 sticks) butter (I used salted, add 1/4 tsp salt if using unsalted)
360g (approx 2 & 1/2 cups) plain/all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
240ml (about 1 cup) milk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
330g (approx 1 & 1/2 cups) granulated sugar (I used caster/superfine) 
4 large eggs 
Prepare the brown butter ahead of time as you will need to chill it:
  1. Place butter in a small saucepan on low-medium heat and stir until it melts completely.
  2. Continue cooking, stirring frequently until the milk solids turn brown and the butter smells nutty, about 5 minutes longer (or as long as it takes to turn golden brown). Take care not to burn (it will continue to brown even after you remove it from the heat, so take it off early).
  3. Scrape the melted butter and browned bits into small bowl and chill until solidified (about half an hour in the freezer, an hour or so in the fridge). When ready to make cake, remove from the fridge long enough that the butter is soft enough to be beaten with an electric mixer.
For the cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) and grease four 15cm (6 inch) or three 18cm (7 inch) round cake tins. Line the base of the tins with baking paper. 
  2. Combine flour and baking powder in a medium bowl and set aside. Mix milk and vanilla together in a measuring jug.
  3. Using an electric mixer on low speed, beat sugar and brown butter in a large bowl until blended. Increase speed to high and beat well until very pale and creamy, at least 5 minutes. 
  4. Reduce speed to medium low, add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  5. Alternately add flour mix and milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture (I did it by adding 1/4 of of the dry mixture followed by 1/3 of the wet mixture at a time). Beat until smooth, occasionally scraping bowl with a spatula. 
  6. Pour equal amounts of mixture into prepared tins and bake until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean and the outside is golden, about 30-35 minutes (will vary depending on your cake tin size). Take cake not to overbake or cake will be dry. 
  7. Cool in tins for 15 minutes, then carefully turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely. Can be stored in an airtight container overnight if you want to prep the cakes a day ahead.
Brown Butter Layer Cake with Vanilla Bean Icing & Salted Caramel
For the salted caramel:
200g sugar (about 1 cup)
100g (7 tbsp) salted butter
1/3 cup thickened/heavy cream 
Additional sea salt flakes, to taste
  1. Place sugar in a heavy-based medium to large saucepan on medium heat and whisk until it stars to melt (it may clump together but this is okay), continue whisking until all the sugar melts down.
  2. Add a sugar thermometer to the pan and continue cooking without stirring, swirl the pan occasionally to stop the bottom from burning. 
  3. Heat until mixture turns dark golden in colour and the sugar thermometer reaches 180°C (350°F), then add all the butter at once. Take care as mixture will bubble up.
  4. Whisk until the butter is incorporated, then add cream (mixture will bubble up again) and whisk until smooth. Pour into a heatproof bowl. and allow to cool slightly. 
  5. When cool enough to taste, add extra salt to taste. Chill until ready to pour over cake (chilled mixture will be quite thick so you might want to bring it back to room temperature to make it easier to pour over the top of the cake).
For the icing: (note that this was just enough icing to cover a 4 layer 15cm cake, not sure if you will need more for a wider/shorter cake)
400g salted butter (add 1/4 tsp salt if using unsalted), softened
600g icing sugar (confectioner's sugar), sifted
1/3 cup milk
2 vanilla bean pods, seeds scraped (or 2 tsp vanilla bean paste)
  1. Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high.
  2. With the mixer on low, gradually add icing sugar and mix until incorporated. 
  3. Add vanilla bean seeds and milk and beat on high until very pale and fluffy.
  4. Place first layer of cake on your cake stand or plate. Spread a layer of icing over the top of the cake, using an offset spatula. Sandwich with another layer of cake and then repeat with remaining cake layers.
  5. Crumb coat cake and then chill cake for about 30 mins.
  6. Cover cake with the remaining icing and chill again for another hour before pouring salted caramel over the top of the cake. 
  7. Keep cake chilled in the fridge, remove 30 mins before serving to allow it to come back to room temperature.
Brown Butter Layer Cake with Vanilla Bean Icing & Salted Caramel
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  1. i have all the components, i am so going to attempt this now!

  2. I love that salted caramel!! This cake looks so good!

  3. That looks soooo luxurious. Ah, the wonders of caramelisation. :)

  4. You sure know how to brighten ones day with cake! Glorious!

  5. your husband is one lucky man! That cake looks extraordinary! So excited to try a brown butter cake, never used brown butter before!

  6. Oh my that looks delicious. I'm all about anything with caramel.

  7. wow this looks so incredibly beautiful and delicious! You have now created the craving to make this cake super duper soon xo wonderful post by the way :)

  8. Everything about this cake looks awesome! Brown butter + vanilla icing + salted caramel - I'm in heaven!

  9. Wow, this looks increasable!! I must make this for my cousin who adores salted caramel. Saving it for her birthday!

    FoodNerd x


  10. i am drooling over your spae happy birthday to your husband happy wedding week ;) i know all are belated .. hope you enjoyed a lot.. the cake looks just scrumptious.. very nice work; explained in a great way

  11. WOw this looks great! I will need to try it out for the salted caramel :x
    Hugs, Cris @ makeeasycake.blogspot.ro

  12. ooh love the dripping caramel off the cake! happy birthday to A!

  13. Wow! This looks delicious. Just discovered your blog through Pinterest, and love it! :)

  14. Vanilla bean AND salted caramel? Both of my faves - this is like a dream come true!

  15. Woah that salted caramel topping looks amazing, the cakes sounds amazing too. Love it.

  16. Absolutely luscious and perfect cake. What a lucky hub! Love the flavours going on

  17. Um that looks amazing! I have a feeling I'll be dreaming about this tonight too. lol

  18. Steph, wonderful combination of flavors. Brown butter, vanilla, and caramel blend beautifully and make for quite an appealing cake.

  19. Yum. I am going to give this a go for my brother's engagement cake. Thanks!

  20. This looks amazing!! Just quickly though, what do you mean by Crumb Coat the cake when icing it (step 6 in the icing section)? Thanks!

  21. Una auténtica delicia a la vista y al paladar.

  22. I did the vanilla bean icing and caramel on top of a birthday cake for a friend. Topped it with rolos inspired by another one of your cakes. Here it is! http://instagram.com/p/mmrmh6NYeP/

  23. Done. Success. Only half the people who were invited turned up so I ended up only using two layers and sending the other two to work the next day. It was such as success that I have had multiple requests for the recipe (needless to say, I referred them direct to your blog).

    I think your photos are spectacular (and make me salivate) and your instructions are always accurate and very helpful for the amateur baker that I am.

  24. I LOVE your blog, my all time favourite :) Just one question: do the solids always go brown? I did it over low heat and stirred it once melted for over 10 minutes before taking it off the heat but the solids are still white! The butter is a nice golden colour but none of it is "brown". Anyway, it's in the fridge so hoping it works as the cake looks amazing. Making it for my hubby's birthday too! Thank you!

  25. I LOVE your blog! It's my all time favourite :) I'm just making this brown butter cake now for my hubby's birthday but I've been cooking the butter over low heat for over 10 mins stirring etc but the solids are not turning brown. They are still white but the butter itself is a golden colour. Anyway, it's in the fridge now, but wondering why this happened? Do you think it might still work? Hoping so anyway. Keep up your amazing work! :) p.s. I tried kaya 5 years ago in Malaysia but had no idea what it was I had eaten that was so delicious. As I was out of the big city no-one could speak english and tell me what it was...so I've searched high and low for YEARS asking people what would have been on top of that delicious white buttered toast...and then I found your blog. Gah, so excited to try and make it sometime soon! Dreamy! :)

  26. This cake looks gorgeous and I bet it tastes great. I'm planning on making it this afternoon for a friend's birthday!

  27. Hi,
    can you please help me.. I get so confused as too which Icing Sugar to use. I bought the Pure Icing Sugar, then got home and looked at it and it stated it was the hard stuff to be used for piping and Wedding cakes. Then I had Icing Mixture in my cupboard which stated it was for use in Frostings, and was perfect for Butter creams... Which one am I supposted to use?

  28. Can the cake be made one day ahead? Or will the frosting be to dry if I do so?

    1. It can definitely be made ahead of time!


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