Strawberry Rhubarb Brown Butter Cake: layers of strawberry rhubarb compote and soft whipped cream spread between a sweet & nutty brown butter cake
Is there anything more delicious than brown butter? I think not. Something magical happens when those little fat globules in liquid butter start toasting to a golden brown. It takes on a nutty aroma and makes everything you use it with taste absolutely irresistible.
This cake could’ve been simply an ode to brown butter. I could have left it with minimal flavor and texture interruptions. But the days are getting longer, and sunnier, and warmer, and I need berries in my cake right now. While I still haven’t actually gotten my hands on the fresh stuff, I do still have some frozen from last year. I decided that would do for now. In fact, I have frozen rhubarb, and strawberries, and raspberries, and blueberries, and elderberries. So it was time to use some. That’s why I freeze them, after all.
For that reason, you could make this cake anytime of year. Use fresh fruit or frozen, whatever you prefer and have on hand.
Now, I’ve got to be honest. Part of the concept for this cake came because I was inspired by all the beautiful drizzle cakes that I’ve seen recently. I wanted to make a lovely, naturally pink glaze with fresh strawberry juice and watch it cascade down the sides of my cake. And I did. But the thing is, I’m all about flavor and quality. And I don’t like my sweets very sweet. Unfortunately, although the drizzle is pretty, it added too much sweetness to the cake for my liking. So, I don’t actually recommend it. It takes away from the beautiful, simple flavors that this cake brings to the table.
However, if you have a stronger sweet tooth and are going for a certain look, feel free to include the glaze. Just drain a tablespoon or two of liquid from your defrosting fruit and whisk it together with 1/2 – 3/4 cup of powdered sugar.
Otherwise, this cake would be just as charming decorated with fresh strawberries. It is basically a celebration of springtime. I’ve always been a fan of the classic strawberry rhubarb combination. Why not put it in a cake instead of a pie? You really ought to, because it is delicious. The soft whipped cream really tempers the rhubarb’s tanginess. And of course, that brown butter cake seals the deal.
Now, let’s bake, shall we?
Strawberry Rhubarb Brown Butter Cake
Layers of strawberry rhubarb compote and soft whipped cream spread between a sweet & nutty brown butter cake
brown butter cake
- 4 ounces unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup whole milk room temperature
- 3 egg whites room temperature
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup flour
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
strawberry rhubarb compote
- 2 cups strawberries frozen
- 1 cup chopped rhubarb frozen
- 1/3 cup vanilla sugar
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
for the brown butter cake:
First, brown your butter. Melt butter in a saucepan and continue to cook on medium-low, watching carefully for bubbles to subside and the bottom of the liquid to begin browning. Once it is taking on a golden brown color, remove from heat. It should smell nutty and have little brown bits in it. Pour in a small bowl and allow to cool back to room temperature. It should be soft and spreadable.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray two 6" cake pans and line bottom with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, combine milk, egg whites, and vanilla.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine dry ingredients until thoroughly combined. Add soft brown butter, blending until mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Add all but 1/4 cup of milk mix and beat on medium speed until thick and creamy, 2-3 minutes. With mixer on low, gradually pour in remaining milk.
Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans and use a spatula to even out. Bake until golden brown on top and sides are beginning to pull away from the pan, about 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
for the compote:
Allow berries & rhubarb to defrost slightly. Place in a stainless steel pot with the sugar and cook until fully broken down and quite thick, stirring and mashing with a wooden spoon all the while. This should take about 10-15 minutes. If using fresh fruit, it may take longer to thicken. Pour compote in a bowl and allow to cool completely.
for the whip:
Whisk cream, sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form.
Slice each cake in half horizontally to make 4 layers. Spread first layer with whipped cream, followed by a layer of compote. Repeat on next 2 layers. Top with final cake. Apply a thin layer of whipped cream around entire cake for a crumb coating. Chill at least 20 minutes; ice with remaining whip.
Keep cake in fridge until ready to serve. This cake is great chilled or at room temperature.