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Front view of sliced vanilla pound cake dusted with powdered sugar on a wooden board.

The Best Brown Butter Pound Cake

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A melt-in-your-mouth classic pound cake using brown butter, this delicious cake has a moist crumb and deep vanilla flavor. It keeps well and can be frozen. 

  • Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 10 servings


  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder


For the brown butter:

It takes about 1 hour for the butter to solidify and be at room temperature before it's ready to use. 

  1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
  2. A white foam will form on top, then subside, and bubbles will appear. It can chirp noisily if it has too much water content. 
  3. When the bubbles and noise subside, watch carefully, remove from the heat, and check the butter's color under the foam. As soon as it turns a medium amber color, it's done. At this point, it can brown very quickly, so watch out.
  4. Transfer to a shallow bowl (it will cool down faster) and refrigerate until it firms up a little. This might take from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the temperature. Remember you need it at room temperature, not solid, so use the fridge to speed it up, but don't let it solidify.

For the cake batter:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º/180°C.
  2. Butter or spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan.
  3. Line with a piece of parchment paper if you want, covering the pan's bottom and two long sides. The two short sides will remain unlined but greased. This will help you remove the cake from the pan. 
  4. In a large bowl with an electric mixer (or the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment), beat butter until pale and fluffy. Gradually add sugar at medium-high speed.
  5. Mix eggs, yolk, milk, salt, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add gradually to the butter mixture, mixing well.
  6. Add the sifted dry ingredients in three additions, mixing carefully with a spatula. Like me, you might sift flour and baking powder in another bowl or do it directly over the batter.
  7. Integrate well until no lumps remain, but don't overbeat after adding the flour.
  8. Pour into the prepared pan and spread with a spatula to even it out. 
  9. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  10. Let cool on a wire rack, remove from the pan, dust with powdered sugar, and serve.
  11. For storing leftovers see Notes below. 


  • Organization: read the recipe first and ensure you have ingredients at the correct temperature, equipment, and enough workspace. This will make the process so much easier.
  • Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. Use a thermometer inside the oven (like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that the temperature is right. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust. 
  • Loaf pan: if using the right size, the batter should never exceed more than 2/3 (or 3/4 at the most) of its capacity. This will ensure the cake rises well and the inside is baked.
  • Brown butter: you can make it ahead and refrigerate it for a few weeks in an airtight container. Consider that you'll need 25% less of what the recipe specifies if starting with regular butter. So, for example, the recipe today uses 1 cup of butter before it's browned. If you already have the browned butter, you'll need 3/4 cup. 
  • Storing 
    Room temperature: you can keep it for three days (maybe a little more). Always well covered with plastic wrap or a cake dome to prevent drying.
    Refrigerator: cover and keep it in the fridge for a week.
    Freezer: it keeps frozen for a month if well wrapped. I use plastic wrap first and then aluminum foil. Check our freezer baking & desserts guide for more details. 
  • Author: Paula Montenegro
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Brown butter process: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Category: Cakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: International


  • Serving Size: 1/10
  • Calories: 362
  • Sugar: 25.3 g
  • Sodium: 208.5 mg
  • Fat: 20.9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 39.9 g
  • Fiber: 0.3 g
  • Protein: 4.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 141.7 mg