Saturday, October 6, 2012


Brown-Butter Layer Cake (Tom Douglas)

  • ACTIVE: 50 MIN
  • SERVINGS: Makes two 9-inch layers


1.     3 sticks unsalted butter (12 ounces), plus more for greasing the pans
2.     2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3.     2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
4.     1 teaspoon salt
5.     1 2/3 cups sugar
6.     1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
7.     3 large egg yolks
8.     2 large eggs
9.     1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature
10.   Mousse filling and Buttercream frosting (see Note) 


1.     Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter two 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. Butter the paper and dust the pans with flour, tapping out the excess. 

2.     In a medium saucepan, melt the 3 sticks of butter. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until foamy, about 5 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the milk solids turn brown and the butter smells nutty, about 4 minutes longer. Scrape the melted butter and browned bits into a large heatproof bowl. Set the bowl in an ice water bath until the butter begins to set around the edge, about 8 minutes. 

3.     Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the 2  1/4 cups of all-purpose flour with the baking powder and salt. 

4.     Remove the bowl from the ice water and scrape up the hardened butter. Transfer the butter to the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle and beat until creamy. Add the sugar and vanilla seeds and beat at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks followed by the whole eggs. Beat in the dry ingredients and milk in 3 alternating additions, scraping down the side and bottom of the bowl as necessary. 

5.     Pour the cake batter into the prepared pans and bake in the center of the oven for about 40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until the cakes are golden and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans for 20 minutes, then invert them onto a rack to let them cool completely. Peel off the parchment paper. 

6.     Set one cake layer on a platter. Spread the mousse filling on top and cover with the second cake layer. Frost the cake all over with a thin layer of buttercream and refrigerate until set, about 5 minutes. Frost the cake with the remaining buttercream. Refrigerate the cake until the frosting is firm, at least 15 minutes, before serving. 

   NOTE:  Seattle chef Tom Douglas’s Brown Butter Cake is GREAT!  Jane and Caroline have baked it twice, most recently earlier this week to serve to Jane’s homeroom.  If you don’t feel like making the fancy mousse filling and buttercream frosting and just want to stick with a prepared supermarket frosting, the cake will still surprise and please.  (Links for various mousses and buttercream frostings are found in the notes HERE.)  Tom Douglas defeated Iron Chef Morimoto on Iron Chef America once – no mean feat.  Morimoto, one of our Philadelphia chefs, is awesome. 



Upper:  Wayne Thiebaud, Layer Cake (Half-Cakes), detail, Woodcut, 1964.

Middle:  Wayne Thiebaud, Layer Cake (Half-Cakes), Woodcut, 1964.

Lower:  Photograph by Pernille Pedersen.

No comments:

Post a Comment