Welcome to Panza Baby, where you can find delicious recipes and my musings on the world through the lens of food.

Browned Butter and Toasted Sugar Cake

Browned Butter and Toasted Sugar Cake


This is a basic white cake recipe taken up a notch. I saw the Serious Eats recipe a few weeks ago and knew I had to make it.

If you think you don’t like cake I’d say you should eat this cake because you might like cake after that.

I used hibiscus and beet powder to color the frosting and achieve those gorgeous pink and magenta shades.

The flowers have been out in glorious bloom here in Santa Barbara and I’m obviously inspired. Walks with Panza are accompanied by the smell of jasmine flowers and the sight of trees loaded with kumquats, white roses in full bloom, and even wild nasturtiums.


Brown Butter Cake and Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Cake - recipe adapted from Serious Eats

1 1/2 cups toasted sugar (see notes below on how to make)

1 1/2 sticks brown butter at room temperature (see notes below on how to make)

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla paste or vanilla extract

2 eggs at room temperature

2 teaspoons water

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups cake flour

11 ounces milk (I used half and half)

Before you get started you need to brown the butter and toast the sugar.

To brown the butter, place in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Melt butter and continue to cook, swirling the pot as you go. After about 5 to 8 minutes the butter should start turning a darker brown color and smelling nutty. Remove from heat and pour into a separate container. Refrigerate.

To toast the sugar preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place sugar in a baking pan (I used a 9x13). Place sugar in oven when fully heated. Remove from oven ever 15 to 20 minutes to stir. Do this for up to an hour and 2o minutes. Remove and let cool.

To make the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place browned and cooled butter into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment along with the sugar, baking powder, salt, vanilla, and water. Beat for a few minutes until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until fully incorporated before adding the second.

Mix cake flour and baking soda together and have milk handy.

Pour half of cake mixture into bowl and half of milk. Mix until just combined. Add the rest of the cake flour and milk and mix again until just combined.

Pour into two greased and floured 6 in cake pans.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until lightly browned and cake springs back in the middle when touched with a pointer finger.

Let cool for 10 minutes. Invert on to a cooling rack.

Swiss Buttercream

5 egg whites

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 1/2 sticks butter at room temperature, cut into small chunks

2 teaspoons vanilla

Combined egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Place a medium size saucepan with 1 inch of water on the stove over medium heat. Place bowl of sugar and egg whites over the saucepan. Stir constantly until sugar is dissolved and mixture feels warm to the touch.

Remove from saucepan and place on stand mixer. Begin to whip (using whisk attachment). Whisk for 10 minutes or until the bottom of the bowl feels cool to the touch. Begin adding one chunk of butter at a time, slowly. The mixture may start to look curdled but just keep mixing and it will come together. Add vanilla and continue to whisk until desired consistency is reached. Use immediately.

Key Lime Pie with Key Lime Curd Whipped Cream

Key Lime Pie with Key Lime Curd Whipped Cream

Lime and Coconut Cupcakes filled with Key Lime curd and topped with Hibiscus frosting

Lime and Coconut Cupcakes filled with Key Lime curd and topped with Hibiscus frosting