Brown Butter Pound Cake with Strawberry Compote

slices of pound cake with strawberry compote topping

Pound cake has never really been one of my favorite desserts to eat, but it’s one of my top 5 desserts to make and serve. The main reason being– it’s easy. Only a few staple ingredients beaten together and thrown into the oven. It’s also super versatile in that it’s the perfect canvas for layering different toppings, glazes, or ice cream– so no one even realizes I’m making the same thing all the time.

(Dessert tricks!!)

But, like I said, it’s just not my favorite dessert to eat. To me, pound cake has always been a little bland and a lot boring. I’d much rather dig into a slice of apple pie or a lemon cupcake. Anything tastes incredible under a stream of salted caramel or chocolate sauce, but it’s been my goal to make a wonderfully rich pound cake that’s not only full of flavor, but tastes absolutely exquisite on its own. And even better with something as humble as strawberry compote.

slices of brown butter pound cake topped with strawberry compote

To get there, I played around in the kitchen for a few months. Every other week or so, I’d try tweaking my standard pound cake recipe with different techniques and flavors. The minute I smelled the brown butter version, I knew I had one of the best on my hands. It has a moist, velvety texture with a super dense and buttery crumb. The flavor is a dream.

First, do you know how pound cake got its name? Original pound cake recipes call for one pound of each: butter, sugar, eggs, & flour. And not much else. Recipes today are a little different, but the results are generally the same!

Let’s Upgrade the Butter

The first thing I looked at was the butter. Obviously pound cake gets most of its flavor and texture from this glorious ingredient. I tested different amounts, but it wasn’t until I decided to change the flavor of butter that I was satisfied. If you’ve ever used brown butter in a dessert before, you know what I’m talking about. It’s a powerful little ingredient that can transform a good cookie into a “this is the best cookie I’ve ever had in my life” phenomenon. And that’s not an exaggeration; it’s magic. When we brown butter, we cook out all of the water. The milk solids toast, which creates this completely mouthwatering nutty aroma and unique flavor.

Here’s my complete brown butter tutorial.

brown butter in a skillet with a wood spoon

One crucial step in making pound cake is creaming the butter and sugar. Brown butter is melted butter and you can’t really cream melted butter and sugar. Beating the two together will indeed create air bubbles, but they will quickly deflate. That’s not the batter base you want here. So we’re going to chill the brown butter. Chill it until it becomes solid and then treat it like you would regular butter. Let it soften to room temperature again. Sounds like an awful long time, but I chilled the brown butter in the freezer for only 45 minutes and took it out to soften for 15. Takes an hour, which is about how long regular butter takes to soften. More dessert tricks!

Let’s also take a look at the eggs. Room temperature eggs are key, so they (1) will not harden the butter when they’re added and (2) mix together smoothly. Make sure you add the eggs one at a time. Remember those air bubbles I just talked about? You don’t want them to collapse in the egg step either, so you’ll want to gradually beat them in. The air bubbles will expand as the cake bakes, which allows it to rise up (and not sink). Eggs are one of the most important ingredients in pound cake because they not only provide moisture and richness, they give the cake its structure. I suggest using high quality eggs because they aren’t just any other ingredient you’re throwing in. They’re crucial. And there are 4 of them. You know I’m a fan of Eggland’s Best eggs, always have been, and I highly advise your batter is equipped with them too!

See all the specks in the batter? Those are the toasty brown butter bits. F-l-a-v-o-r.

pound cake batter in a glass bowl

sliced brown butter pound cake

One quick note before I get to the strawberry compote. (so good!!!) I add a teeny tiny amount of baking powder to my pound cake. Traditionally, pound cake is made without any chemical leavener, but since creaming brown butter doesn’t produce quite as much volume as regular (un-browned) butter would, I make up for it with a little baking powder. It just gives the cake a little extra lift in the right direction.

overhead image of strawberry compote in a glass bowl with a wood spoon and a saucepan

Ahhh, the strawberry compote. Love this stuff. It’s completely optional because the brown butter pound cake is pretty epic on its own, but I highly suggest serving some compote alongside. And strawberries are finally back in season, so you just have to.

Making it is actually really easy. Like a chunky strawberry syrup, but it’s made completely from scratch and isn’t cloyingly sweet like most store-bought stuff. You’ll need fresh strawberries, a squeeze and zest of lemon to offset some sweetness, sugar, and cornstarch (mixed with water) for thickening. Let it simmer on the stove for a few minutes and you’re done. I usually make the compote in advance because it will need some time to thicken once removed from heat.

PS: this stuff is ridiculously good spooned over cold, creamy greek yogurt in the morning. Or on top of waffles, ice cream, oatmeal, french toast, and funfetti angel food cake. (aka party in a cake pan!)

2 slices of brown butter pound cake on a white plate topped with strawberry compote

This brown butter pound cake will stand the test of time in my recipe repertoire. You’ll not only love the brown butter flavor, you’ll appreciate the spot-on texture as well. Dense without tasting too heavy, golden brown, and impeccably rich. Try it!

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2 slices of brown butter pound cake on a white plate topped with strawberry compote

Brown Butter Pound Cake with Strawberry Compote

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 hours, 25 minutes
  • Yield: serves 8-10
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

You won’t BELIEVE the flavor in this simple brown butter pound cake. Top with homemade strawberry compote for one of the best desserts ever!


Ingredients

  • 1 cup (230g; 2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (188g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Strawberry Compote

  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) warm water
  • 1 lb strawberries, hulled and sliced in half (you can use frozen; don’t thaw)
  • zest and juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Brown the butter: Slice the butter up into pieces and place in a light-colored skillet. (Light colored helps you determine when the butter begins browning.) Melt the butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once melted, the butter will begin to foam. Keep stirring occasionally. After 5-8 minutes, the butter will begin browning– you’ll notice lightly browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan and it will have a nutty aroma. See photo above for a visual. Once browned, remove from heat immediately and pour into a large tupperware or a 9×13 baking pan. Cover tightly, place in the refrigerator or freezer, and chill until solid. I always place mine in the freezer. It only takes about 45 minutes this way.
  2. Remove the brown butter from the refrigerator or freezer and allow to slightly soften on the counter for 15-30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  4. Make the cake: Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  5. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the solid brown butter on high speed in a large bowl until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the granulated sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer running on low speed, add the Eggland’s Best eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla extract. Beat on medium-high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients. Beat everything just until incorporated. Do not overmix.
  6. Pour the batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour, 10 minutes. Pound cakes are dense and, therefore, take awhile in the oven. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely before slicing and serving. Cover and store leftover cake at room temperature for up to 5 days.
  7. Make the strawberry compote: Whisk the cornstarch and water together until all the cornstarch has dissolved. Add it, along with the rest of the compote ingredients, to a small saucepan over medium heat. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir the mixture as it cooks. Break up some of the strawberries as you stir. Bring it to a simmer and allow to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from heat and allow to cool. The mixture will thicken as it cools.
  8. Spoon cooled compote over pound cake. Cover and store leftover compote in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can make the pound cake ahead of time by freezing it. Bake it, cool it, wrap it up in aluminum foil and freeze the loaf as a whole. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving. Freezes well up to 3 months. You can also brown the butter ahead of time too– keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days then continue with step 2. You can make the strawberry compote a few days ahead of time. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  2. Compote: Makes about 2 cups!

Keywords: brown butter pound cake

66 Comments

  1. The poundcake started browning too much at 40 minutes so I tented it and baked for a few more minutes, but no where near 55 minutes. I found the cake too dry:-(. The strawberry compote was good:-)

  2. Hi Sally – our family and friends love your cheesecakes and I have been asked to make a cherry one. Can I substitute cherries for the strawberries in your compote recipe?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Karen, we can’t see why not! Or, we love our homemade strawberry sauce on cheesecake — see recipe notes for making with cherries.

  3. I only made the cake. I checked it at 50 minutes and it was done. It was a tiny bit dry even then so maybe I’ll add a touch of plain yogurt next time. However it was still very good. I love all your recipes.

  4. I made this as the alternate recipe for the 2021 March Baking Challenge. I am usually like Sally in that I’m not a huge Pound Cake fan based on the typical bland flavor. But the browned butter in this cake is a game changer!! Not only was the cake delish and a hit for family Sunday dinner; but I was liking the bowl that I made that batter in!! 5 out of 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

  5. Recipe was excellent! I ran across this recipe by chance and very glad I did. First time I’ve ever browned butter and you explained it clearly. The pound cake was amazing! We couldn’t wait till it was completely cooled. The wonderful smell was too tempting. My family loved it! In our opinion, it didn’t need anything else but, I will make the compote another time. I didn’t have any of the ingredients in house and it’s sounds delicious.
    I have now joined your email list and I plan to make the banana cake with brown butter cream cheese frosting later this week.
    Thank you!

  6. Why did it take me this long to brown butter? It has taken the pound cake to the next level! Easy to put together and easy to eat in one setting. This recipe is a great one for pot lucks, family gatherings or just because.

  7. Patti Price says:

    Since I dislike Macarons, I made the Brown Butter Pound Cake with Strawberry Compote for the March Baking Challenge. It seemed like it would turn out great, but I’ll have to give it an average rating for a couple things that seemed off. I recently tested my oven and it’s spot-on for temperature and I even lowered the temp to 325 because my loaf pan was glass, and I took the cake out of the oven at the minimum time of 55 minutes, and it was still very, very dry and over done. Next time I will do 45 minutes and see what happens. The compote was really good although a bit tart for my personal taste so I will use a touch more sugar next time. Even though overall everything was just a tad not sweet enough for me, I will definitely try this recipe again because I think it can be great. I’ll just up the ante on the sugar next time around. 🙂

  8. Judie Gilli says:

    First time making brown butter and OMG this is a game changer! Thank you for the recipe and all the smart notes. Wish I could post a pic. Now I just have to wait until tomorrow to make strawberry shortcake

  9. I need a little help here. First time I made this it was perfect, loved it! I made it again last night and it was dry, didn’t taste at all like the first time.
    Two things I did different, butter was from a big box store and when browned it did not have the rich nutty smell but browned nicely. Second thing was I took left the loaf in the pan to cool. I was traveling with it so I thought that would be easier. I did not remove it Until 3 hours later. Last time we could wait and I removed the cake and let it cool out of the loaf pan for about 10 minutes.. than ate it.
    Did it over cook due to sitting in the pan? Was it the cheaper butter? Both? I know you like specific eggs, do you have a butter brand you prefer? I loved this recipe and don’t want to make the same mistakes again. Please let me know.. thank you!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Nancy, We don’t have a prefered brand of butter. If you did everything the same (same bake time, same pan) then it was likely due to letting the cake cool completely in the pan. Any chance you are using a glass loaf pan? Once you take them out of the oven, the metal pans usually cool faster than glass pans. But this is an easy fix for next time! Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes then finish cooling on a wire rack (you can always put back into the cooled pan to travel if needed).

  10. Thanks for responding. Yes, I am using a glass Pyrex loaf pan. I will take it out of the pan as you suggested next time. I loved this recipe and the banana cake one too with the brown butter frosting. Wow! That was delicious too! Thats all I’ve made so far. Looking forward to baking more soon.
    Thank you!

  11. Melissa Call says:

    Hi Sally! Love this recipe. I am hoping to make it for a larger group & was wondering if I doubled or tripled the recipe, could i use a bundt pan?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Melissa, You could double for an extra large Bundt cake (that will take a long while to bake!) or bake this as is in a Bundt pan for a shorter cake – without doubling. We’re unsure of the bake times for both though. Let us know if you give it a try!

  12. Do you think I could use the strawberry compote as a filling between cake layers if I also create a dam of buttercream? Or is it too runny?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Valerie! Yes, you can use the compote between layers. We like to put down a thin layer of buttercream first so that the layers don’t slide and create a border with buttercream so that it doesn’t spill out the sides. Hope you enjoy it!

  13. Would this recipe work with a 9 inch round cake pan? Or cupcakes?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Stephanie, this would be wonderful in a 9×2 inch cake pan (make sure it’s deep dish style). We’re unsure of the exact bake time. Cupcakes should work as well!

  14. Can the compote be frozen? We have 3 gallons of fresh strawberries .

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Definitely!

  15. Hi! This looks super tasty. Do you recommend using a glass or metal loaf pan? Thanks!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Stella! We usually use a metal pan for this pound cake.

  16. Sallys recipes are my baking bible! Made this cake for my Dad’s birthday and swapped the strawberry compote with her recipe for Lemon Curd (made it the thicker way with 1 whole egg and 2 egg yolks).

    For anyone wondering about a bundt pan (which i used) — just double the recipe. I baked mine at 350 (convection) for 45 minutes and was perfection!

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