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!

Click here to PIN this recipe for later!

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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

155 Comments

  1. Can i use plain butter instead of browned?

  2. I made this cake today for a family picnic. It turned out beautifully- I did follow the recipe exactly as it says, and watched it closely in the oven, as it’s the first time I’m baking a pound cake. I used a 11×5 inch loaf pan, and needed 55minutes in the oven. All ingredients were at room temperature. Thanks for a great recipe!

  3. Sally
    Hello from Singapore !!
    This receipe is so effortless and the result is simply out of this world!! The smell.. the texture … the flavor..
    This will be my go to receipe tor our little bget togethers. With friends..
    I still am trying to believe that a simple 10 minute exercise of browning the butter can add so much to an otherwise simple receipe with common ingredients ..
    And this when I didnt even do the sttawberry compote.

  4. David Burnett says:

    Could you use self raising flour instead of separate use of baking powder?

    1. Hi David, I haven’t tested this with self rising flour, but let me know if you do!

  5. Sally, I want to use your brown butter pound cake recipe for a nude layer cake.

    Will this recipe translate to 2 round cake pans?
    Do I need to adjust the temp/time?
    I’ll double the batch for 4 layers total.

    I’d love to make with berries and whipped cream as the icing between the layers.
    Like a strawberry shortcake.
    But afraid the whipped cream be too fragile to cut. should I go cream cheese icing or buttercream instead?
    Help…..Baby shower this weekend! xoxo

    1. Hi Victoria! I just realized I had missed your question last week. My apologies. This recipe isn’t enough for 2 9-inch cake pans. If you’re looking for a nude layer cake, I recommend my vanilla naked cake. You can add berries between the layers or even fill with this strawberry filling!

  6. I used a 1/4 tsp baking soda and 1/4 tsp baking powder for leavening, and I used 100g granulated sugar, 50g maple sugar, and 50g brown sugar. It came out really well, though maybe a tad too moist (my fault for the sugar substitutes, which add moisture). It was perfect the next day though, so thanks for this recipe! You can still smell the browned butter even after baking, and it’s delicious. I’m going to make it again with the same substitutes, but this time with pecans inside to add that bit of crunchiness 🙂

  7. Hey sally! Browning the butter reduces the quantity of the butter. So is supposed to be 230g of butter after Browning or should it be 230g of butter before browning?

    1. Before. 🙂

  8. I am having dinner with my friends, and I signed up for the dessert. I needed something I could made a couple of days before. This was delicious! The best pound cake I have ever made. It paired well with a fall compote.

  9. Can I make this in a bundt pan?

    1. Hi Kemorie! It will be a shorter bundt cake, but yes it would fit. I’m unsure of the exact bake time in a bundt.

  10. I used frozen whole strawberries to make just the compote, which I used to top your cheesecake recipe. Super simple and really good. I’ve tried other recipes that had more ingredients and ended up with weird after tastes. Definitely a keeper!

  11. hi, can we use cake flour? or it is a must to use all-purpose? i am afraid the cake become dense.

    1. You can try using cake flour instead.

  12. Hi Sally, I’m making mini cheesecakes and want a strawberry topping on them. Do you think I should make your strawberry sauce or compote? I would like the texture to be similar to canned pie filling you get at the store.

    1. They are almost identical! I would use the strawberry sauce that I link to in my recipe for Mini Cheesecakes. Enjoy!

      1. Thank you!

  13. I loved the brown butter. Easy recipe but I found it to taste a bit dry. Great aroma and taste. Sauce was superb ! Thanks

  14. Hoping to make this for Easter! Theoretically, could I bake some strawberries into this and bake for longer to account for the extra moisture? I assume they’d need to be thawed or fresh…

  15. I’ve been a fan of brown butter for years. My family loves it on corn on the cob. I absolutely love this recipe. I didn’t make the strawberry compote. Ate some of it plain and some topped with strawberries and whipped cream. Oooo la la.

  16. Hi Sally,

    Can I use the strawberry compote as a layer between your vanilla cake recipe?

    Love your recipes by the way, easy to follow and the videos you do with them is really helpful. My new favorite baking website.

    Thank you.

    T

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words, Lynn! Yes you can use the compote between layers. However, I still like to put down a thin layer of buttercream so that the layers don’t slide. You may also wish to pipe a thicker ring around the outer edge of your layer to keep the filling from leaking out the sides.

      1. JERI HODGES says:

        SALLY, I WANT TO BAKE YOUR BROWN BUTTER CAKE IN A REGULAR POUND SIZE, USING A REGULAR TUBE OR BUNTE PAN.MY QUESTION IS, CAN I JUST DOUBLE YOUR THE INGR. I LOVE ADDING BROWN BUTTER TO ALL THINGS NEEDING BUTTER; HOWEVER WHEN I BAKE WITH IT, AFTER BROWNING IT’S NO LONGER 2 CUPS IF THAT’S WHAT I BEGAN WITH. SHOULD I THEN ADD MORE BUTTER. THANKS, JERI HODGES

  17. Anjanne Nagalingam says:

    I found the cake a little to dry for my liking… Probably adding a quarter cup of milk will make it moist…

  18. Ok I made it! Added a quarter cup of whole milk as felt that the batter was a little dry-it was divine-the brown butter makes a world of difference!! will definitely go into my fav cakes!

  19. Sheila Calnan says:

    I would like to make this, but am wondering can it be made in mini loaf pans? That way, it will be easy for me to share. A big loaf is way too much for j7st me.
    Thanks.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sheila, we can’t see why not. We’re unsure of the exact bake time — but keep a close eye on them and use a toothpick to test for doneness.

  20. Mary Anne S. says:

    Definitely the tastiest pound cake I’ve ever had! The little bit of lemon in the compote gives it a subtle freshness that’s sooo good. This is a great way to jazz up a simple dessert without a ton of effort! Thank you!

  21. I made this today (inspired by the monthly baking challenge) with the strawberry compote and it was amazing! I’ve never made a pound cake before but this was so good (my fiancé said it was the best desert I’ve made). Definitely going to make this again sometime!

  22. My mother and me are going to try this out. She’s making the compote for hers but I need a glaze that I can add on as I share most of my bakes. Compote would be hard to share.

    Do you have a tried and true strawberry glaze that could be added onto the cake and stored that way? Thanks. And seriously thanks. I’ve baked so many of your things. You taught me to bake and It’s a hobby that has added so much value to my life.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi J, absolutely — how about the strawberry glaze from our Berry Fritters? Or for a thicker glaze / frosting, you could use the strawberry frosting from our Strawberry Frosted Donuts. We really appreciate your kind note and that you have enjoyed so many of our recipes — hope you and your mother enjoy this one, too!

  23. 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:-)

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

  27. 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!

  28. 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.

  29. 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. 🙂

  30. 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

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