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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: 30-36 mini cakes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


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.


  • 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


  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.


  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. Special Tools (affiliate links): Light-Colored Skillet (like this or this)| Whisk | 24-Cup Mini Muffin Pan | Pastry Brush | Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand) | Fine Mesh Sieve
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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