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photo of a brown butter cake covered in buttercream orchids
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Brown Butter Cake

An intoxicating brown butter vanilla cake that's covered in hand piped Italian meringue buttercream orchids! 
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 10
Calories 260kcal

Ingredients

INGREDIENTS

    For the Cake:

    • 1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour 213g
    • 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar 303g
    • 1/4 tsp baking soda heaping
    • 1 tsp baking powder heaping
    • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
    • 3/4 cup brown butter 170g, unsalted, room temperature
    • 1/2 cup sour cream 120ml, room temperature
    • 1/2 cup whole milk 120ml, room temperature or warm
    • 3 egg whites room temperature
    • 1 tbsp vanilla extract nice
    • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste

    For the Italian Meringue Buttercream and Brown Butter Italian Buttercream:

    • 8 large egg whites room temperature
    • 2 2/3 cups sugar 550g, divided
    • 2 pinches kosher salt
    • 2 cups browned butter 454g unsalted room temperature
    • 2 cups butter 454g, unsalted room temperature
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
    • 2/3 cup water 160ml

    For the Stems:

    • parchment paper
    • ½ cup candy melts 84g
    • 1 tbsp matcha powder
    • 1 tbsp cocoa powder

    Instructions

    INSTRUCTIONS

      For the Cake:

      • Preheat oven to 345 degrees F. Butter and flour three 6-inch pans. I use damp cake strips on my pans for even baking. 
      • In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and stir. Cook until the butter has browned and turns into a golden color. Pour the butter into a bowl and transfer to the fridge to bring it to room temperature. Keep an eye on the consistency while it’s in the fridge and stir frequently. Take it out when it congeals.
      • Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, including sugar.
      • Beat the wet ingredients together in a medium bowl.
      • Add the wet to the dry and mix until just combined.
      • Divide the mixture evenly into the buttered cake pans. Add damp baking strips.
      • Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until the centers are springy to the touch.
      • Let the layers cool in the cake pans for about 4 min, then dump them out onto a wire cooling rack. 

      For the Brown Butter Italian Buttercream:

      • In a medium saucepan add 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1/3 cup water then place on medium-low heat. Stir until sugar melts and becomes clear. Maintain at medium-high heat until temperature reads 235-240F.
      • Beat 4 room temperature egg whites, a pinch salt and 1/4 tsp cream of tartar. Slowly add in 1/3 cup of sugar and continue beating until soft peaks form.
      • When the temperature reads 235-240F, drizzle the sugar mixture into the mixer immediately.
      • Run mixer until meringue is cool/tepid. 
      • Switch to a paddle attachment. Add room temperature brown butter into running mixer one tablespoon at a time.
      • Add 1 tsp vanilla.
      • Beat until butter is combined and mixture has reached a silky consistency.
      • Transfer to a piping bag. 

      For the Italian Meringue Buttercream:

      • In a medium saucepan add 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1/3 cup water then place on medium-low heat. Stir until sugar melts and becomes clear. Maintain at medium-high heat until temperature reads 235-240F.
      • Beat 4 room temperature egg whites, a pinch salt and 1/4 tsp cream of tartar. Slowly add in 1/3 cup of sugar and continue beating until soft peaks form.
      • When the temperature reads 235-240F, drizzle the sugar mixture into the mixer immediately.
      • Run mixer until meringue is cool/tepid.
      • Switch to a paddle attachment. Add room temperature butter into the running mixer one tablespoon at a time.
      • Add 1 tsp vanilla.
      • Beat until butter is combined and mixture has reached a silky consistency.
      • Save about 1.5 cups for the orchid flowers.
      • Transfer the rest to a piping bag and snip off the tip.

      For the Orchids:

      • Cut square pieces of parchment paper. Use gel food coloring to dye the buttercream soft shades of pink, yellow and green.
      • Transfer the pink to piping bags fitted with a 120 tip, 127 tip and a 401 tip.
      • For the smaller orchids, use the 127 tip to make a small base on the parchment paper and piping nail. Pipe 2 large semi circular flat petals using the 127 tip with the thick side facing inward. Use the 401 tip to create 2 hooded petals in the center.
      • For the larger orchids, repeat the same process as above using the 120 tip for the base.
      • You can pipe some yellow in the center using a small round tip. Add little details with dark coloring.
      • Chill until ready to serve.

      For the Stems:

      • Microwave candy melts.
      • Add matcha and cocoa powder until you get a desired color.
      • Freehand pipe the orchid stems. Double over the candy melt to make them a bit stronger.
      • Let them cool and carefully remove.

      For the Assembly:

      • Pipe the browned butter italian meringue between each layer. Pipe a crumb coat and smooth with a bench scraper and offset spatula.
      • Pipe an outer layer of white italian meringue buttercream. Smooth with a clean bench scraper and offset spatula. 
      • Sketch out the leaves. Use a palette knife to paint on the darker green italian meringue buttercream.
      • Add the largest stem.
      • Pipe a dollop of buttercream as glue for the orchids. Add flowers along the stems.

      Video

      Notes

      Notes on Decoration

      I went all out decorating this cake but I have to say that it would be JUST as delicious with just the brown butter Italian meringue buttercream smeared on. The orchids are delicate and will not stand up well to heat. 
      If you are piping the flowers I recommend storing them in the freezer while you get everything together so they can be handled without crushing them.
      I used two piping tips for this cake that made a huge difference, they're shaped like curved tear drops and are a total game-changer, 120 and 127. You can use there to make many different types of petals and I highly recommend them.

      Nutrition

      Serving: 1slice | Calories: 260kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 230mg | Sugar: 25g