Birthdays are some of my favorite holidays because…cake. It also doesn’t hurt that on my birthday I get to be all about me and nobody faults me for it! Truthfully, my own birthdays are usually more pressure than I would like. I’m a fairly lowkey person and not into all the fanfare. Typical Leo, right? 🙂 Celebrating someone else’s birthday is much less pressure in my opinion, and Jesus’ birthday is by far my favorite to make a big fuss over. Christmas doesn’t typically involve cake, though, so let’s get back on track. 🙂 This brown butter vanilla cake with salted caramel frosting is one I have made before. If you follow me on Instagram (which you totally should), you may have seen it around the time of this year’s Super Bowl. I made it in the shape of a football. At least, I intended to. The shape was actually fine but the construction left a bit to be desired. I frosted the cake too soon (rookie mistake) then took it on a rushed and bumpy journey to my friend Trent’s Super Bowl party so by the time we arrived, the layers were migrating. Despite some technical difficulties, the flavor and consistency were unparalleled. The cake was a hit! So, a few months later, I recreated it as a three layer cake and it made the perfect birthday cake.
I loved Chef Tom Douglas’ recipe as seen in Food & Wine while researching and planning this cake but tweaked it and changed the frosting to make it my own. The frosting is basically my praline sauce as seen here, here, and here plus powdered sugar and minus the pecans. Creating this birthday cake is pretty straightforward. The only sidestep is browning the butter, which takes a little bit of time but is beyond worth it. Brown butter has a deeper, slightly nutty flavor that is unmistakable and truly elevates both savory and sweet dishes. Instructions for how to brown butter are in the recipe below and here’s a good video demonstrating how.
Let me know how this turns out for you or what cake you love when celebrating your birthday. Thanks for reading!
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 cups unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 1/4 cups sugar
- 1 3/4 cup milk I used unsweetened almond
- 3 eggs
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup salted butter
- 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar or less, depending on desired consistency
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt butter over medium heat then reduce to medium-low. Continue heating (low and slow) and stirring for 8-10 minutes total. The butter will foam, solids will form, and you should smell a warm, nutty aroma. Scrape butter and solids into a bowl and set it in an ice bath or in the fridge for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix flour, baking powder, and sea salt in a bowl. In another bowl, beat brown butter and sugar together then beat in eggs, yolks, vanilla, and milk. Add in flour, scraping bowl as necessary. Divide batter evenly into three greased-and-floured nine-inch round pans. Bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean.
While the cakes bake, melt butter for frosting in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in brown sugar and cream. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about five minutes. Remove from heat and sift in powdered sugar, one cup at a time until your desired stiffness is met. Mix well and allow to cool to room temperature before frosting.
Frost cake between layers and on top for the "naked" look of my birthday cake or go full on.