This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

These brown butter berry tea cakes are delicate miniature sponge cakes perfect for a tea party, bridal shower, Mother’s Day, or any gathering where you’re serving coffee or tea. The browned butter gives the batter its depth of flavor, which accents the juicy berry at the heart of the tea cake. If you enjoy madeleines, but crave something easier, try these!

brown butter berry tea cake with bite taken out to show center

What exactly is a tea cake? Turns out that question has many answers, depending on where you are in the world. For example, in England, it’s a yeasted bun made with dried fruit (similar to a hot cross bun), toasted and buttered and enjoyed at afternoon tea. And in the American South, tea cakes are more like a cake-like cookie. What are tea cakes like in your region?

My idea of a tea cake is a miniature sponge cake perfectly suited for serving at a tea party, like these almond poppy seed tea cakes. They’re like delicate little… cakelets.

Are These Just… Mini Muffins?

Sort of, but not really. Although we’re baking these tea cakes in a mini muffin pan, the texture is different from a muffin or a cupcake; they’re actually most similar to madeleines, but much easier to make! I compare them below.

brown butter tea cakes with raspberries and blackberries in center

Tell Me About These Little Treats

  • Flavor: Browning the butter gives these a subtle nutty, caramelized flavor, complemented by almond flour, fresh lemon zest, and a sweet-tart berry.
  • Texture: Whipping egg whites to soft peaks gives these brown butter tea cakes their spongey, airy texture. They’re soft with a slightly chewy crust, similar to a madeleine, with a juicy burst of berry in the middle.
  • Ease: Much easier than making pastry, and no icing or fancy decorating required! The trickiest bit is browning the butter, but I’ll walk you through it.

I tried a few berry options, but I like these brown butter tea cakes best with fresh raspberries and blackberries—one berry in the center of each little cake. Perfect!

Like Madeleines, But a Lot Easier

This recipe is a great introduction to making madeleines, because these tea cakes are reminiscent in taste and texture, but they don’t require the same level of precision.

  • No super special pan: We’re baking these tea cakes in a mini muffin pan. This recipe yields 30-36 tea cakes, so it’s helpful to have 2 mini muffin pans, but you could certainly also just use 1 pan and bake in 2 batches. Though if you want to go fancy, this NordicWare tea cake plaque would be just the thing to impress your guests!
  • No chill time: Unlike with madeleines, you don’t need to chill the batter.
  • Less fussy: The brown butter tea cake batter is pretty forgiving. In regular sponge cakes (like angel food cake) and madeleines, we take great care to not deflate the egg whites, but in this recipe, it’s not quite as important. You could certainly sift the dry ingredients in, but the texture was still amazing without being so precise. Just use a mixer to combine the whipped egg whites with the rest of the ingredients.

You and I are breaking all the rules here… and we like it!!!

Grab these 10 ingredients:

almond flour, egg whites, flour, vanilla extract, butter, and other ingredients required for this recipe

The first step is to brown the butter. Have you ever done this before? It’s fairly simple, but if you’re new to browning butter, reviewing my How to Brown Butter page will be helpful.

Success Tip: How to Brown Butter

Brown butter is melted butter with an enhanced flavor brought on by gently cooking it, and it’s a staple ingredient in many French pastries. In less than 10 minutes, the butter melts, sizzles, foams… then transforms into a complex, nutty, caramelized-flavored ingredient. It’s liquid gold, and just as valuable to this recipe!

Make sure to stir constantly, and I recommend using a pan with a light interior, rather than a dark pan, so you can see the color change. The difference between brown butter and burnt butter is just a few seconds! I usually use my Le Creuset enameled cast iron fry pan and a silicone whisk for browning butter, but a stainless steel pan works well too. See Notes if you’re using a darker pan.

browned butter in skillet pan and also shown in a small glass bowl

Step Photos: How to Make Brown Butter Berry Tea Cakes

After browning the butter, separate 2 Tablespoons and use that to brush your mini muffin pan. (Extra brown butter flavor on the exterior, yum!) Let the remaining brown butter cool for 30 minutes. During that time, prepare the rest of the batter.

Whip egg whites into soft peaks:

egg whites whipped into soft peaks shown in glass bowl

Below left: Add all of the other ingredients (except vanilla extract and reserved brown butter) and beat on low speed to combine. Below right: Batter thins out when you beat in the butter and vanilla.

lumpy batter in glass bowl and smoothed out after adding brown butter

Spoon into greased muffin cups, about 2 teaspoons batter per tea cake, and then top with a berry:

brown butter batter spooned into mini muffin pan and shown with berries on top of each before baking

When they’re done, the cakes should be golden brown around the edges. If there’s a hump in the middle, that’s completely normal—that’s actually what you want when you bake madeleines. Adding the berries on top reduces the rise, but if you leave out the berries, they will form a little dome while baking.

Serving Your Tea Cakes

These tea cakes don’t need much to dress them up, I just give them a little sugar shower! Use a fine mesh sieve or sifter to sprinkle a dusting of confectioners’ sugar. You could also drizzle some melted white or dark chocolate on top.

Don’t forget your coffee or tea! (Or champagne.)

dusting tops of mini muffin tea cakes with powdered sugar
berry tea cakes on white plate

Can I Make These in a Regular Muffin Pan?

Yes! This recipe yields about 10 tea cakes when baked in a standard-size muffin pan. See Notes for adapted instructions.

tea cakes with raspberries in muffin pan and shown on pink linen

More Recipes Perfect for a Tea Party

See Your Brown Butter Berry Tea Cakes!

Many readers tried this recipe as part of a baking challenge! Feel free to email or share your recipe photos with us on social media. 🙂

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
berry tea cakes on white plate

Brown Butter Berry Tea Cakes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 50 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
  • Yield: 3036 mini cakes 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These brown butter berry tea cakes are delicate miniature sponge cakes. They’re similar to madeleines, but much easier to prepare! As instructed in step 1, be sure to cool the brown butter used for the batter until it’s no longer warm.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 10 Tablespoons (140g) unsalted butter
  • 4 large egg whites (140g), at room temperature
  • 1 cup (105g) almond flour
  • 2/3 cup (85g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (130g) fresh blackberries, raspberries, or blueberries (see note)
  • optional: 1/4 cup (30g) confectioners’ sugar for dusting on top

Special Tools


Instructions

  1. Brown the butter: Set out a medium heat-proof bowl because you’ll need it at the end of this step. Slice the butter into Tablespoon-size pieces and place in a light-colored skillet or saucepan. A light-colored interior is crucial for determining when the butter begins to brown. (See Notes if using a dark skillet or pan.) Melt the butter over medium heat and stir or whisk constantly. Once melted, the butter will begin to foam. Continue stirring/whisking, keeping a close eye on it. After about 5–7 minutes, the butter will begin browning and you’ll notice lightly browned specks forming at the bottom of the pan. The butter will have a nutty aroma. The color will gradually deepen, from yellow to golden to golden-brown; once it’s a light caramel-brown color, remove from heat immediately and pour into the bowl, including any brown solids that have formed on the bottom of the pan. Separate out 2 Tablespoons of brown butter—we’ll brush that in the muffin pans in step 2. Cool the remaining brown butter (about 1/2 cup) for 30 minutes in the refrigerator, or until room temperature and no longer warm. Don’t cool longer than that because the butter will begin to solidify.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Using a pastry brush, brush the cups of a 24-count mini muffin pan with the 2 Tablespoons of browned butter. This recipe yields 30–36 tea cakes, so grease a 2nd pan or bake the batter in batches. If using mini muffin liners, brush the liners with the brown butter.
  3. Make the tea cakes: Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on high speed in a large bowl until soft peaks form, about 2–3 minutes. Add the almond flour, all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Beat on low speed until combined and don’t worry that the egg whites deflate, you’ll still taste their fluffy goodness in the cakes! Mixture will be sticky, lumpy, and thick. Pour in the vanilla extract and cooled brown butter and beat on low speed until combined.
  4. Spoon 2 teaspoons of batter into each greased muffin cup. Lightly poke a berry into the center of each. No need to submerge the berry, just stick it on top.
  5. Bake for 14–16 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing. Tea cakes will slightly deflate as they cool.
  6. If desired, lightly sift confectioners’ sugar on warm or cooled tea cakes before serving.
  7. Tea cakes are best enjoyed the day they are made. Store leftover tea cakes covered lightly at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Freezing Instructions: Baked and cooled tea cakes can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight on the counter before dusting with confectioners’ sugar and serving.
  2. Using a regular 12-count muffin pan: Makes 10 tea cakes. Use a scant 2 Tablespoons of batter per tea cake and 2 berries on top. Extend the bake time to 18–21 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
  3. Browning butter in a darker skillet/pan: I recommend using a light-colored skillet or large pot when browning butter so you can see when the butter is browned. (It’s only a few quick seconds between brown butter and burnt butter.) If you only have dark cookware, I suggest setting a timer, and checking the color by spooning some butter into a glass bowl to determine if it has browned. Check it at the 5-minute mark, then every minute after. Don’t let it cook longer than 8 minutes.
  4. Almond flour: Almond flour is finely ground blanched almonds. You could also use almond meal, which is coarser. You can make your own almond flour, but be very careful because almonds can quickly release their oils, clump up, and turn into almond butter. It might be easier to just pick up a bag of fine almond flour. It’s common in grocery stores these days—I use and love Bob’s Red Mill brand.
  5. Can I make these without almond flour? We weren’t able to successfully make these without almond flour without the texture completely changing. Instead, I recommend making these almond poppy seed tea cakes. You can leave out the almond extract and poppy seeds, if needed/desired, and pop a berry into the tops before baking like you do with today’s recipe. See Notes in that recipe for using a mini muffin pan.
  6. Berries: You can use frozen berries instead of fresh, but be sure to thaw them first. I recommend blackberries, raspberries, or blueberries. You need 30–36 individual berries. If your blueberries are small, use 2 per tea cake.

Keywords: brown butter berry tea cakes

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Delicious! I made them in a standard muffin tray and did have to bake for longer than the recipe says for them to be fully cooked through, which I found meant that they turned out a bit more brown than the photos, but I really loved the little bit of crisp that it added. My partner said they were ‘the best thing I’ve made yet’ and quickly devoured the whole tray

  2. This recipe is very easy and super quick after the butter has been browned. I tried blueberries and raspberries, and preferred the tart raspberries over the (one-note) sweet blueberries.

  3. These were delicious! They looked fancy but were really simple to make. Will definitely make them again.

  4. These were good. The fresh berries were an important part of the recipe. On the other hand, I really could not taste the browned butter, or discern the whipped egg whites. In my mind a simple sour cream cake basis would have been just as good, and easier.

  5. These littles cakes are full of flavor. I used raspberries and blackberries and liked the taste of the blackberry cakes just a tad more than the raspberry. I found the recipe easy to follow and enjoyed learning about browning butter.

  6. So amazing and easy to make! Will for sure be the hit of my family gathering. Knocked it out of the park again, Sally!

  7. These are so delicious! I will definitely make these again. Very easy to follow recipe. These are simple to make, but have so much flavor. We loved them!

  8. I loved the simplicity of this recipe with big results. The tea cake is a bite size, warm, buttery treat with the burst of fruit. A delightful way to enjoy your morning coffee or afternoon cup of tea.

  9. Surprised by how much I loved this as I’ve been disappointed with browned butter in the past and a tea cake just sounded bland to me. But the vanilla flavor is strong with a hint of the lemon perking up the berry flavor. I loved the texture – maybe the almond flavor? Made it somewhat denser than I was expecting. Perfect size snack and got a deal of approval from my husband. Would be ideal for a brunch potluck or an afternoon tea/coffee accompaniment.

  10. This recipe was a hit with my family – from young to old. We all loved the fresh berries and light cake they are nestled in. I think ate nearly half of them while they were still hot. These would make a nice dessert for a bridal shower, baby shower or any gathering.

  11. These tea cakes were absolutely delicious! I will definitely make these again. They were simple yet had so many flavors that went so well together – so so good!

  12. This recipe was simple to follow. Turned out delicious, used all raspberries. Will definitely be making this one again!

  13. YUM! As a chocoholic I wasn’t sure if I would love this recipe but I did! They are light yet full of flavor and pretty easy to make.

  14. Perfect recipe for a brunch with friends. Loved the berry in the middle!

  15. My family really liked these. I had some blueberry and blackberries on hand but my raspberries had gone bad. The lemon zest really made these work. I really wish my raspberries had been good. I think it would’ve been divine. We shall bake again.

  16. These were delicious!! I halved the recipe, and it made 12 mini muffins, but could have easily made more my mini muffin pan makes only 12 so I filled quite full. My whole family loved them, I made some with raspberry, some with blueberry and some with 1/4 square dark chocolate. The texture was great so was the flavor I really liked the lemon. I added some cinnamon but I think just a tiny bit of almond extract would’ve worked well with the brown butter flavor. Thanks for this awesome recipe!

  17. These are delicious! I love the texture from the combo of almond and AP flour, the hint of lemon and the berries.

  18. My first time browning butter and the video made it easy. These turned out great. Thanks so much as always

  19. These little cakes turned out great! I love the hint of lemon with the raspberry and vanilla. Besides the brown butter, it was easy enough so that my 3 year old could help!

  20. Delicious! My boyfriend ate 6 or 7 of them in quick succession, then asked me to make them for his birthday…which isn’t even until January!

    I want to try making them again with some almond extract or maybe even pieces of marzipan, just to kick up that almond flavor a little more!

  21. These little tea cakes were underwhelming. I enjoyed the overall quickness of the recipe and making the brown butter, however, the flavor was just good, not great. I was expecting more.

  22. I opted for no extra sugar. I also only have one mini muffin tin, so I used my muffin top pan for the additional batter. My family and friends loved them! Thanks for another great recipe ☺️

  23. These were simple to make and so delicious. I always thought tea cakes were complicated and had never made them. We loved the flavor of these! Great recipe.

  24. Made these today, and my family loved them.
    Delicious! Will make again.

  25. Absolutely Delightful!! These little sweet treats were so easy to come together and greatful I could get the Madeline taste/feel without having to buy the specific pan. The browned butter added a fantastic flavor combo with the lemon, slight sweetness and the berry flavors. Amazing! And the texture stayed so tender (even the next day) despite the soft peaks flattening out. Thanks Sally! These will a staple I bring to showers from now on because who doesn’t love cute finger foods that taste Fantastic

  26. Yum! These were super buttery with a nice hint of citrus. I used orange zest instead of lemon and it paired perfectly with the berries. Would make these again for a fun tea party!

  27. These were delicious!! I can’t believe how easy they were to make. They weren’t overly sweet. Perfect with a cup of tea

  28. Yum yum yum! Delicious! A lemony, buttery, raspberry bite of happiness! Mine didn’t come out perfect from the pan, but they were mouth watering and addicting.

  29. Fun recipe to do over a weekend, yielding sweet almond and fruit flavored cakes. I made these in a shell cookie tin and they turned out really well. Definitely read through the directions before proceeding, this recipe has quite a few steps.

  30. My daughter-in-law raves about anything brown butter, so I was excited to give this a try. I am so glad I did! The nutty flavor of the butter along with the almond flavor and the hint of lemon equals sublime!

Leave a Review!

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.