Brown Butter Cake
Posted: 29 May 2008 02:34 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I need to make a brown butter cake.  I browned the butter (1 cup) and replaced the liquid that evaporated (about 2 tbsp) with milk.  I chilled the butter until it was the consistency of regular softened butter before using.  I used a yellow cake recipe that I have always had good results with, but, using the brown butter, the cakes sunk down in the middle.  I’m not sure how to proceed.  I want the brown butter flavor and a yellow cake consistency.  Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

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Posted: 29 May 2008 05:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I think I may have found a clue to your problem on the main blog:

deb, by now you can tell ME how the clarified butter experiment worked. i tried it of course when working on the pastry bible but clarifying butter denatures it and it does not perform like lard. it is a totally different type of fat structure.

That was Rose, replying to a question about using clarified butter instead of lard in a pie crust. Link: http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/2005/11/introduction.html#comment-98134

So, when you browned and cooled the butter, you ended up with a fat with a different structure—even though the molecules were (mostly) the same they were arranged in a different way.

As to what to do about it…that could be tricky. Maybe you could brown only a portion of the butter? You might need to do some serious recipe adjusting and I’m not enough of an expert there to help you. Have you tried searching for some Brown Butter Cake recipes on the Web?

Good luck and happy baking!

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Posted: 29 May 2008 08:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Thank you very much!  My latest experiment was to use the brown butter in place of vegetable oil in a velvet cake.  This one came out better, but still not right (a little greasy and, like the last one, this one sank a little in the middle).  I did find one recipe online that I will try, though the ingredients sound like they’ll make a more dense cake.  If that doesn’t work, I’ll try a cake using oil again, this time straining out the milk solids from the brown butter.  Fingers crossed!!

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Posted: 29 May 2008 09:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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If I’m remembering correctly, there was some discussion on this when Bill made a cake and substituted clarified butter for the oil in the recipe… not sure where it’s posted, but do a search either here or on the blog.

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Posted: 01 June 2008 03:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Thank you for your help!  After trying a few different things, I ended up using a recipe found on RecipeZaar.  I don’t understand enough of the science to know exactly what went wrong with my experiments.  The one I ended up with tastes great - its a little on the dense side, but I prefer that to the only alternative I could find (genoise).  The recipe that worked had more flour, less baking powder, no baking soda, a little more sugar, and - the biggest difference, double the eggs.

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Posted: 01 June 2008 01:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I’m glad you found a recipe you that works for you! Perhaps you could modify it a bit to make it lighter. Increasing the baking powder might work, but you might just end up with the cake falling instead. Perhaps you could beat some air into the eggs while mixing. I remember a recipe from Cooks’ Illustrated / America’s Test Kitchen where they did that. They wanted a cake that was chocolate-y but light in texture. Here’s the link for that recipe:
http://www.americastestkitchen.com/recipe.asp?recipeids=3342&iSeason=7

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