• Brown butter loaf with brown butter frosting (Chris Middleton)Source: Chris Middleton

The nuttiness and extra flavour that comes from browned butter is fantastic. Just don’t walk away from the pan as those delicious milk solids will change from toasty-brown to nearly burnt in the blink of an eye. 






Skill level

Average: 4.3 (16 votes)


  • 125 g (4½ oz) butter
  • 170 g (6 oz/½ cup) rice malt syrup
  • small handful hazelnuts
  • 150 g (5½ oz/1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 90 g (3 oz/¾ cup) almond meal
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp natural vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt


Brown butter frosting

  • 100 g (3½ oz) butter
  • 100 g (3½ oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp rice malt syrup
  • 1 tsp natural vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Cooling time: 1 hour

Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F (fan-forced). Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Grease a small loaf (bar) tin (11.5 cm x 21.5 cm/4½ in x 8½ in; 1.25 litre/42 fl oz capacity) and line the base and two long sides with a piece of non-stick baking paper extending the paper about 4 cm (1½ in) above the sides
of the tin to assist with the removal of the cooked loaf.

Heat the butter in a small saucepan over low heat until the butter melts and the milk solids (the little specks that separate from the liquid portion of the butter) become golden brown and give off a delicious nutty aroma. Swirl the pan so you can see the colour of the solids through the foam. Remove from the heat immediately and dunk the base of the pan in a sink of cold water to stop the cooking process. Whisk in the rice malt syrup and set the pan aside for the mixture to cool to room temperature – it should still be liquid.

Spread the hazelnuts over the prepared baking tray and bake for 5–8 minutes or until fragrant and the skins have loosened. Let the nuts cool slightly then rub them in a clean dish towel to remove the skins. Discard the skins and roughly chop the nuts. Sift the flour, almond meal and baking powder into a large bowl. Set aside.

Beat the eggs and vanilla extract with an electric mixer until frothy. Add the salt, and then continue to
beat until the mixture is very thick and creamy – the mixture should leave a ribbon trail across the
surface. Depending on your mixer, this could take up to 10 minutes. While still beating, gradually add
the butter mixture.

Gently fold in the sifted flour mixture in two batches. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35–40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the brown butter frosting, brown the butter as directed above. Pour into a small bowl and refrigerate until set. Beat the solidified butter with an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Add the cream cheese,
rice malt syrup, vanilla extract and salt and beat until smooth and fluffy.

Spread the cooled cake with the frosting and sprinkle over the hazelnuts.

This cake will keep for 2–3 days in an airtight container.


Recipe and image from Incredible Bakes That Just Happen to be Refined-Sugar Free by Caroline Griffiths (Smith Street Books, $39.99 hbk) .

View more refined sugar-free recipes from Incredible Bakes here.

View our Readable feasts review and more recipes from the book here.