Brown Butter and Bourbon Pound Cake

R. J. Cooper III

Rogue 24 - Washington, D.C.

This simple pound cake is made with beurre noisette, which imparts a warm, nutty flavor.


  • Pound Cake:

  • 1 1/4 cup (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Syrup:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 vanilla bean split
  • 1/4 cup bourbon


Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter and lightly flour an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat until the milk solids on bottom are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. Transfer to a shallow bowl and place in the freezer to cool until just congealed. (You want the butter to be somewhat solid for the mixing stage.)

Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Beat the brown butter, bourbon, and sugars with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Smooth out the top and rap the pan on counter to settle the batter. Bake until cake is golden-brown and a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean, about an hour.

Make the syrup while the pound cake bakes: combine the sugar, water, and vanilla bean in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the bourbon.

When the pound cake is done, remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Invert the cake onto a rack and let cool completely, right side up, for an hour, brushing the pound cake with the syrup every 5 minutes.


One loaf