Ginger-Scented Brown Butter Cake

I work at a magazine where in seemingly every issue we publish an article about "secrets." Whether the subject is fashion or beauty, there are always a few basics tricks that every girl needs to know. Tips like how to cover a blemish or how to make that boring office dress suitable for a last-minute date may not seem all that exciting, but at that right moment they can make all the difference.

If it were up to me (and it's definitely not), I'd prefer a list of recipe secrets. A few must-have recipes that every girl should keep in her arsenal. Ones that she can whip up quickly while running back and forth from the kitchen and living room during Grey's Anatomy (BTW, totally unrelated but can someone *please* explain to me what is up with those dead Denny love scenes?). Anyway, maybe it's sacrilege to say this, but I think a good basic butter cake recipe will get you a lot farther than perfectly kohl-lined eyes. Because trust me, no guy is ever going to go home and tell his roommates about your carefully highlighted cheekbones. But he definitely will remember how you made him that "awesome cake."

This awesome cake is easy to throw together. The secret is in the ginger-y brown butter, which I'll teach you to make below. It adds a subtle hint of spice and nuttiness to an already light and moist cake. If you don't have ginger, skip it and just brown the butter without it. Once cooled, the cake can be served plain with a dusting of powdered sugar, topped with a scoop of ice cream, drizzled with chocolate syrup, or even split, filled, and frosted (and I won't even judge you if you use the canned stuff).

Oh and it's even perfect the next morning for breakfast. You know, should you find yourself with an unexpected overnight guest...

Ginger-Scented Brown Butter Cake

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Ginger Brown Butter (see below)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, plus one large egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup heavy cream or Half & Half

Ginger Brown Butter
2 tablespoons sliced fresh ginger
3 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1” cubes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan.

Prepare the Brown Butter:
In a medium saucepan, combined the butter cubes and ginger over medium heat. Stir until completely melted then lower heat slightly. Let simmer.

After a couple minutes, the butter will start to froth, keep an eye on it stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t bubble up. The brown butter will be ready when the solids have separated from the rest of the butter and attained a golden color. The rest of the butter will also take on a golden hue and the scent will be rich, nutty, and gingery.

Remove from the heat and let cool (about 5-10 minutes) but not harden. Strain the ginger and butter solids leaving only the clear, golden butter. Use this for your recipe.

To make the cake:
Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer (or by hand) beat the brown butter and sugar for a minute until well combined and slightly syrupy. Beat in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla until well combined.

Switch the mixer to low speed and slowly add the dry ingredients about a 1/2 cup at a time, alternating with ¼ cup of cream until all added.

Beat for an addition 15-30 seconds until the batter is completely mixed and there are no lumps or dry spots.

Pour your batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes until golden and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let cool slightly before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve dusted with confectioner’s sugar or any variety of toppings. Any leftover cake can be stored wrapped in plastic wrap and kept at room temperature for up to 3 days.


  1. aha! beautifully simple recipe, I came over to Always Order Dessert for some last minute Thanksgiving ideas - and here it is! thanks,
    plenty of love for your holiday :)

  2. Oooh I love that you love it Curly! Let me know how it comes out and much love to you and your family for the holiday too!

  3. I made this cake lastnite, expect i used just over half of the reccomend amount of butter and switched out flour for almond flour and used liquard splenda insteed of suga.

    The batter tasted so good raw, but as it was cooking all the butter seemed to melt out of the cake and cake tin and go all over the bottom of the oven.

    Once the cake was cooked there was just so much butter that it was literaly pouring out of the cake, I thght once it had cooled that the butter might blend into the cake but it didnt.

    Then end product you could just squeeze all the butter out of the cake. Would this be because i replaced flour for almond flour? what do you think I could have done wrong?

    It seems like a lovely cake and I would love to try it again could you suggest altering it to Low Carb?

  4. Hi Aine,

    The modifications you made to the recipe are definitely the reason it didn't come out properly. I haven't made a low-carb version of this yet, so I hesitate to write out a recipe here, but for starters the switching almond flour for regular flour was definitely a big part of the problem. Also the liquid splenda. I would recommend trying it with the pourable granulated Splenda instead of the liquid and adding a few more eggs for volume--try a total of four large eggs. Also you'll need to up the flour if you're planning on using almond flour. I would make it a full two cups of flour and maybe only 1 stick of butter. Give it a shot with these changes and let me know how it turns out!

  5. I love nut brown butter - I was just thinking about making some nut brown brazil flour muffins....hmmm.

    Anyway. I love what you say about guys remembering the cake not the khol (although in my experience they don't realise you're wearing khol, they just think you're magically gorgeous - which you also are - ah, I digress). So often cakes get all fancied up with icing and layers, when all you really want is a damn good cake!

    As for Aine (my mother's name) disappointing almond flour experiment, the secret is to use barely any butter - all the oil is in the nuts - and like you said, use more eggs. Bake longer at a lower temperature too.

    I'm definitely trying an almond, honey version with the ginger butter - yummy!
    x x x

  6. I made this sans ginger (because I did not have any) and it was still so so delicious

    If you are curious I posted a picture on my blog
    Cooking in College

    check it out if you have time


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