Spiced Brown Butter Sponge with Honey Buttercream


Woah, it’s 2014.

How did this happen?!

I feel like it was last christmas only yesterday. When I say last christmas I mean 2012 even though technically last christmas was a few days ago. Ah confusing. Or wait, do you still refer to the christmas just gone as this christmas even though this christmas is still basically a whole year away? Whaaat. I don’t even know.

All I know is, its New Years resolution time.

Personally, I don’t understand resolutions. To me, New Year’s Day is kind of like any other day. So I’m never really in the mood to make a resolution. And to be honest, by February I’m usually lying in bed scoffing a whole box of Swiss chocolates even though I swore to my friends I could give it up a month ago.

I think this year, instead of vowing that I’m going to get fit and eat healthy, I’m going to be a bit more realistic. I mean, I have a baking blog for god sake. I’m almost certain you don’t want my posts full of ‘5 ways to enjoy kale!’ Right?

So this year I think I’m going to go down the positivity route and make resolutions about my life and career. Yes I would love to look like those beautiful girls in vogue but life’s too short to worry about all that stuff. If i want a Danish, I’m gonna have a bloody Danish.

That in mind, it’s cake time.

This beautiful cake was what I contributed to the family christmas gathering on boxing day. Although, by the time 5pm rolled around we were all still pretty stuffed but managed to fit a bit of cake in.

Theres something about this sponge that really reminds me of carrot cake. No it has no carrots and isn’t an oil based sponge, but the spices and the hazelnuts conjure up flavours of a carrot cake… minus the carrot.

The buttercream is what makes this cake. The honey is sweet but not overpowering due to the added sour cream. It’s silky and softer than a normally dense buttercream. However if you’re looking for a cake that can be beautifully iced without imperfections, you may want to change the honey icing for a thicker buttercream.

I’m one of those people who will spend hours in the kitchen getting angry at the cake because it won’t look perfect. You smooth over one side of the cake and realise you mucked up in another place. Ah! My sisters nearly had to shake me to snap me out of my OCD cake icing.cake fork

cake side


Spiced brown Butter Sponge

  • 385g plain flour
  • 55g cornflour (or substitute the plain flour and cornflour for 405g cake flour)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. mixed spice
  • A few swipes of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 355ml milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 350g sugar
  • 4 eggs

Honey Buttercream

  • 250g unsalted butter, softened
  • 500g icing sugar, sieved
  • 130g sour cream
  • 150g honey
  • A few handfuls of finely chopped hazelnuts (for sprinkling between each layer)



  • Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Butter two 8-inch cake tins and then generously flour ready for later.
  • First melt 115 g of butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally until a foam forms on top. Continue to cook the butter until the foam becomes an orange colour and the butter begins to blacken on the bottom of the pan. When the butter has darkened and smells nutty, pour it into a small bowl ready to freeze. Freeze for about 10 minutes, the butter should be beginning to set around the edges.
  • While your butter is cooling, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in a medium bowl (not the bowl you are going to make the batter in.) In jug mix the milk, vanilla extract and the vanilla seeds.
  • Beat the remaining butter in a large bowl in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the chilled brown butter making sure to scrape the bowl clean to get all the flavour. Beat to incorporate. Add the sugar and beat again. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrap down the bowl and beat again until fluffy.
  • Add the dry and wet ingredients in three additions, alternating between the two. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat again. Divide the batter equally between the two prepared pans. Tap the cake pans on the counter top to get any air bubbles out.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes. Once baked, let the sponges cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • I often make my sponges the night before assembling so that the process doesn’t seem so long. If you freeze or refrigerate the cakes and they feel slightly dry when you come to use them, brush them with equal parts water to sugar adding any flavours you want.


  • Place the butter in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat until fluffy and pale.
  • Add in your icing sugar in 3 additions, waiting after each addition until the icing sugar is combined.
  • Mix the sour cream and honey together and add into the butter mix.
  • Change to a whisk attachment and whisk until light.
  • If your buttercream is too runny, place in the fridge until firmer. However this buttercream is very soft anyway, but it should still just about hold its shape.

Assembling the cake – please go to this post for step by step pictures

  • (Only when your cake is completely cool) cut the two sponges in half so that you have 4 thinner sponges. If the tops of your sponges have domed slightly, trim this off so that you cake will sit flat with a flat top.
  • Place one of your sponges onto your cake stand and spread a small amount of the buttercream over the top. Sprinkle over some chopped hazelnuts. Continue by placing the next sponge on, then more buttercream and more hazelnuts. Repeat until the last sponge is placed on top.
  • Don’t go overboard here because this buttercream is just enough to cover the cake. Remember also; that you have 4 layers of sponge to sandwich, so it looks like a small amount of buttercream in between each layer but all together (plus the covering icing) it’s quite a lot!
  • Next, Take 1/3 of the remaining icing and cover the outside of the cake. This is its crumb coat, meaning that it traps all the cake crumbs in so that the second covering of  icing hasn’t got bits of crumb sticking out! This coat is also very thin, don’t worry about the sponge showing.
  • Place in the fridge for 20 minutes to let the buttercream set.
  • Finally, using the rest of the icing, cover the entire cake again. You can use a hot palette knife to get a sharper, cleaner edge. Decorate how you wish!

Author: thegreedysprout

A plant and animal loving baker!

3 thoughts on “Spiced Brown Butter Sponge with Honey Buttercream”

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