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 (187g) 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

131 Comments

  1. Elaine @ FoodParsed says:

    I love the short ingredient list. I totally agree that pound cake is not super exciting. The original recipe sounds waayyy too unhealthy and not sufficiently tasty. This variation sounds lovely though. I never knew that you could chill browned butter and then beat it – I really need to try this tip out!

    1. That’s why I always loved making pound cake- just a handful of super basic ingredients I always, always have on hand. It’s so simple to make!

  2. Andrea @ Cooking with a Wallflower says:

    Oh my god! I love this! Brown butter pound cake sounds absolutely amaaazing. And what better way to top off pound cake than with strawberry compote? It’s so perfect for both spring and summer! And I love that you explained in detail how to create brown butter and just the science behind baking. It makes baking so much easier to understand. I see this as a perfect gift for Mother’s Day!

  3. heather (delicious not gorgeous) says:

    this also sounds like it’d be really great as a gift! i love giving people quick breads/pound cakes, and the strawberry compote sounds like it would make it extra special (:

  4. Cheese and Chinese says:

    This sounds absolutely delicious! 

  5. Sally, I make oodles of desserts for family and friends. Pound cake is always the winner for some reason. I love to put almond extract when I bake them. But your version has to be tried asap! 

  6. Vivian | stayaliveandcooking says:

    I love how you tested it over and over again: that’s how we know we’re going to get a great cake! It sounds amazing and the pictures are to die for.

  7. Tori//Gringalicious says:

    Omg, Sally!!!! I like majorly in love with the idea if this pound cake right now. How could it possibly be better than brown butter and strawberries in the same thing!

  8. Brown butter really is magic. You add it to anything at all, and poof! Instantly amazing dessert. And I’m with you on pound cake. It’s the best canvas, but alone it has to be magnificent to be worth it. And this looks that way!

  9. Marina @ A Dancer's Live-It says:

    I’ve never tried my hand at pound cake before, but I’m so surprised with how simple the ingredient list is! Thank you for sharing! <3 It wouldn't be my top dessert choice, but I could probably just eat that strawberry compote with some whipped cream and I would be happy. 🙂

  10. This looks so tasty, I love strawberry compote so I can’t imagine how good homemade strawberry compote must be! x

    Ariadna || RAWR BOWS

  11. Marijac Whatley says:

    Sally, Your Lemon Curd is DELICIOUS !! Now I’d like to try this Strawberry Compote.
    Just wondering how much it makes. I put your Lemon Curd in 12oz. jars. Does this make about the same amount? Thanks!

    1. Glad you love the lemon curd! The strawberry compote recipe yields around 2 cups, so a bit more than the curd.

  12. Thank you for sharing this next. It sounds delicious! I have a quick question for your. I am going to make it this weekend and also trying  gluten free version for the three of us that can’t injest gluten. Would you add more baking powder to the gluten free version?

    1. Hi Susan. I’m at a loss trying to guess without testing a GF version myself. Will you be using a cup for cup gluten free flour? Maybe test it with 1 teaspoon baking powder.

      1. Thank you Sally! Yes, I will be using a cup for cup flour.

  13. I’ve always been a big fan of pound cake and it’s my go-to for gift giving or when the “in-laws” are coming over.
    I like to do something that is pretty and colorful, like a quick bread baked in a loaf pans.  But you’ve upped the ante by adding the compote!  What a great idea, not to mention that when it comes to your recipes, I don’t need to testing to see if it’s a “keeper”.
    It’s always a safe bet when baking something new in my kitchen– has been tested in your kitchen.
    I love that you showed what the butter is suppose to look like in the pan.  I’ve never worked with “brown butter” in a recipe before but that’s gonna change this week.  Looking forward to another Sallysbakingaddiction.!!
    PS.  When I do give a food gift that originated from your site, I always print out your recipe to be sure the credit goes to you and they’ll have a printed copy in case they would like to make it themselves and also to view the ingredient list.
    Thank you again Sally.!!

  14. Hi sally,
    I have been a lurker here for quite sometime, I love your blog because you explain the techniques and ingredients so well. I was googling Compote and just came by your blog to see if any new posts have been up and Voila you have written about Compote!

    P.S I subscribed to your blog a couple of weeks back and even confirmed it through my mail but I didn’t receive any notifications!

    1. Reading your mind this morning!

      Check your spam folder. Any luck there maybe?

  15. The pound cake looks yummy.  It looks like you can eat it straight off the page.  One question for you – I will need to bake it dairy free (no butter.)  Would margarine sticks brown like butter does?  Any ideas on a substitution?  I know butter is the best but I would have to make it non dairy.

    1. Margarine does not contain milk solids, so it cannot brown. You can skip the browning step or try a vegan butter substitute (also skipping the browning). Unsure of the taste using either, though.

  16. Catherine Smith says:

    Ahh the pink skillet returns!! So cute! Where did you get it? I’ve never heard of brown butter pound cake…but I’m SO making it this weekend! It’ll fuel me so I can take pictures of Texas bluebonnets alllllll day! 🙂

    1. Good eye! I got it from Home Goods. 🙂

  17. I’ve made the marbled pound cake in your cookbook many a time, so I believe this one will be just as good if not better! I love pound cake, both the taste and just the history (with the Great Depression) of it. And you’re right – it’s so easy to make and serve but looks so pretty. I’m going to give this a try  for sure. Despite the extra step of browning the butter, it looks so easy and straightforward as pound cakes always are 🙂 

  18. Can you use frozen Strawberries in the compote?

    1. Yes. No need to thaw.

  19. can you make this in a bundt pan?

    1. You absolutely could! I’m unsure of the exact bake time in a bundt.

  20. Jackie Butts says:

    I always felt “Meh” about Pound Cake, and never had the desire to make it myself, until I had a dessert at a restaurant (15 years ago!)  In a dessert that included caramelized bananas, ice-cream and hot fudge sauce, the Pound Cake (that it all rested on) was the star. Why?  It was TOASTED!  This one little step changed the flavor and texture so drastically that it is now a go to step for my every time I serve Pound Cake (and also day old Angel Food Cake)  There is so much flavor in the brown!  I can’t wait to try this Brown Butter Pound Cake, I love the toasty warm flavor of brown butter and I have no doubt that it will make the Pound Cake taste amazing. 

  21. Hi Sally! 

    While pound cake is definitely not my first option for dessert either, this looks so yummy and what a good recipe to have on hand! With the strawberry compote it’s like a kicked up version of strawberry shortcake, just needs a big dollop of fresh whipped cream!!! This recipe will be great with many other toppings too. Can’t wait to try this!

  22. HI!!! I have been having some difficulty with the printing on your recipes, and I print a LOT of them, THANK YOU. When I print a recipe I get about 4 pages of gobbly gook, and the recipe, but cannot read I t well, small print, it is frustrating and only happens with your recipes, I choose the print button, but I get all this “stuff”? wonder if anyone else has this problem? It has been happening about a week? maybe longer?

    1. Are you pressing the print button that appears under the recipe title? It should only be printing out the recipe.

      1. Yes, I do use the print button by the picture. 🙁 Thank you for any help you can think of 🙂

    2. I’m having the same printing problem as Betty!

      1. I’ll look into things this weekend!

  23. Hi Sally, could I possibly use frozen strawberries for this and thaw them?  Do you think this would work?

    1. Yep, frozen works. No need to thaw!

  24. demeter | beaming baker says:

    Kinda funny how you have a list of desserts you like to eat and then a list of the desserts that you like to serve. 😉 I was telling Erik the other day that there’s a big difference between the food I like looking at and the food I like to actually eat. Haha. Maybe it’s something akin to that…
    Pound Cake name: Sally, I actually knew that one! Read it in Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking. Don’t mind me, I’ll just go ahead and pat myself on the back… Heh. Heh.
    Baking powder: So I just imagined you like a mad scientist in the kitchen, with goggles on, figuring out that the bp would make up for the browned butter. Isn’t food science the best?
    Btw, I just LOVED and could totally appreciate how tough it was to shoot that photo with the strawberry compote streaming down (especially before it hit the plate). #FoodBloggerProblems 😉
    Hope you’re having an awesome week, Sally! xo

    1. The compote was dripping down at rapid speed. Serious pressure getting that shot!

  25. Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough says:

    I know I say this a lot, but truly, never have I wanted to reach through the screen and grab food more than I do with this pound cake. I LOVE pound cake and brown butter and strawberries. Perfect combination!

  26. Natalie Munroe says:

    I’ve been spoiled because I grew up eating my grandmother’s pound cake and it is spectacular! Nobody makes it like her (is that just “a thing” with grandmothers, I wonder?) When my mom uses my grandmom’s recipe, she sometimes adds a touch of coconut extract to the batter and makes a simple coconut buttercream frosting for the top. Either way–plain or frosted–I’ve always joked that it’s called pound cake because you gain a pound with every slice you eat. Haha. I’d be interested to try the brown butter approach. And strawberry compote? MMMMM!

    1. That coconut pound cake sounds DIVINE.

  27. Alan Peyron says:

    One of your  pictures shows the pound cake sliced while it is in the pan.  How did you get the slices so even?

    1. I cut the pound cake in the pictures with just a small paring knife… very slow slices to ensure they’re even.

  28. Hi Sally, is it possible to make this into Meyer Lemon Pound Cake?
    I have a few Meyer Lemons to use up, thank you 🙂

    1. Definitely. I’d add a little meyer lemon juice and lots of fresh lemon zest.

  29. Hi Sally, do you include the browned specks (from the browned butter) or discard it (like straining through a sieve) before using/chilling?

    1. Include them. That’s where most of the incredible flavor is 🙂

      1. Ohh… I see. Thanks Sally!

  30. Alright…so, brown butter. I see the brown specks in your visual, but the liquid part is still that yellowy-translucent tone. Do you wait until the liquid is brown too, or stop when the specks form on the bottom of the pan? 

    I have a feeling I have been making burnt butter instead of brown butter based upon your picture. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. 

    1. When you swirl the butter, those specks mix into the yellow portion– so the whole mixture looks brown. (And you should be stirring as you brown it, so you can tell!) And that’s when you want to remove it from heat. Your butter may have been burnt. Does it smell burnt? Can you remember? Glad this helped!

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