Last Updated on April 7, 2021 by Chenée Lewis
This brown butter cake with Nutella buttercream is an elevated version of the birthday cake I grew up eating: yellow cake with chocolate frosting. That was always my family's go-to for box mix birthday cakes, and it never failed us. So when my friend Yolanda was having a birthday recently, my first thought was this classic combination! But of course you know there's no butter I won't brown, so I had to put a little twist on it! Even better, Nutella is a favorite of Yolanda's, so it was a natural pairing. And any excuse to throw on a bunch of sprinkles is always welcome!
Brown Butter, again?
Um, yes... have you not had it? It's amazing. Once you have it cooking and your whole house smells like nutty goodness you won't ever go back. Of course, some dishes work better with brown butter than others, but the vanilla and chocolate flavors in this cake work perfectly. You can certainly opt out of browning the butter and the cake will still be great. But once you get the hang of it, browning butter is a really easy step that REALLY pays off. AND -- in this cake, we're using a Nutella buttercream frosting! And the French name for brown butter is beurre noisette. Literally, that means hazelnut butter. So it's a perfect combination of flavors.
If you're brand new to using brown butter, I would definitely recommend you check out my How to Brown Butter post for detailed step-by-step and images!
A tip for getting even cake layers on your Brown Butter Nutella Cake
I had to make this cake a couple times before I got even layers, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why! Then I realized that I had both of the cake pans on the same oven rack, and the pans weren't getting enough space around them while they baked!
I realized it's very important to have several inches of space all around the cake pans, even if you have to cook them on different oven racks (be sure to rotate them ⅔rds of the way through baking to ensure even layers).
Of course, there are plenty of other tips to keep in mind to ensure even and flat cake layers, but that was the most relevant for this cake at the moment! But I will definitely share a full list of tips I've learned from cake trial and error very soon. Let me know in the comments what issues or questions you've encountered with layer cakes!
In the meantime, enjoy this brown butter yellow cake and its Nutella buttercream!
Equipment you may need
For Yellow Cake Layers
- baking spray
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour - (218g), plus more for dusting the pan
- ¼ cup corn starch - (32g)
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup brown butter - chilled until solid, then brought to room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar - (198g)
- ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed - (170g)
- 3 large eggs - room temperature
- 2 large egg yolks - room temperature
- 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup full-fat buttermilk - room temperature
Prepare your cake batter...
- Grease and flour bottom and sides of two 8-inch cake rounds and line with parchment, and then spray the parchment paper with baking spray.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and place rack in the middle of the oven.
- In a large bowl of an electric stand mixer or with a handheld electric mixer, cream the softened brown butter on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the sugars and beat for 4-5 minutes on medium speed.
- Add in the vanilla, and then eggs and egg yolks, one at a time,mixing just until combined in between each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl if necessary.
- Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour (3 additions of flour and 2 of buttermilk), mixing well after each addition.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two pans. Drop each pan from about 3-inches onto the counter to get rid of any air bubbles.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes until lightly golden around the edges and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. Watch closely after 25 minutes to ensure that the cake does not overbake.
- Let the layers rest in the cake pans for 10 minutes before gently turning them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
Whip up your frosting...
- Beat butter, nutella, and powdered sugar on medium speed for at least two minutes until light and creamy.
- Add heavy cream and vanilla and beat for an additional two minutes. Spread on cooled cake layers.
Check out my other cake recipes, and let me know what other types of cake you want to learn about! Happy baking!