Browned-butter cake with cumquat glaze

Introducing ‘The Plain-Cake Appreciation Society’ – a club for connoisseurs of uncomplicated bakes, simple cakes the general appreciation of pausing daily for tea and cake. Sound good?

As many of you who have followed along here for a while now will know, I’m a fan of a plain cake. If pushed to choose only one cake to eat for the rest of my days (perish the thought) – I think it would have to be some sort of butter cake, with a simple fruit glaze. I could (and often do) eat that everyday. Simple enough to be morning or afternoon tea, or at a pinch, breakfast.

With this in mind, for the first meeting of ‘The Plain-Cake Appreciation Society’ I give you this simple twist on a butter cake. Browned-butter gives the cake a subtle toasty flavour which pairs beautifully with a sharp cumquat glaze – but indeed use any citrus you have on hand, mandarin or orange would also work well.

Browned-butter cake with cumquat glaze

(makes 2 small, or 1 large bundt cakes)


125g unsalted butter
2 eggs
250ml buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla paste
250g self-raising flour
250g caster sugar
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp bicarb soda

150g icing sugar
1-2 tbsp (20-40ml) cumquat juice


  1. Preheat oven to 160°C (fan-forced). And grease and dust two medium (600ml) bundt tins with butter and flour. Alternatively, use one large 1.2L bundt tin, adjusting baking time as necessary.
  2. Melt butter in a small frypan. Continue to cook over a medium heat until butter is browned and smells beautifully caramelly (3-4 minutes). Be careful, as the butter will spit and bubble as it browns – cover with a mesh pot cover or similar if you have one. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. Place eggs, buttermilk and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Whisk in cooled browned butter.
  4. Place flour, caster sugar, salt and bicarb soda in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and stir to combine. Pour in the butter mixture and mix on low until combined. Increase speed to medium and mix for 1-2 minutes until batter is lighter in colour and texture.
  5. Pour into prepared tins and bake for 30-35 minutes or until risen and cooked through. Allow to cool in tins for 5 minutes or so before turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Whilst cakes are cooling, make cumquat glaze by combining icing sugar and 1 tbsp (20ml) of the cumquat juice in a small mixing bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon or spatula to form a paste, before adding enough of the remaining juice to form a lovely drizzly glaze. I would recommend you err on the side of caution when adding the remaining juice and make a slightly thicker glaze as the icing tends to run more than you would expect.
  7. When cakes are cool, transfer to a serving plate and drizzle over cumquat glaze. Allow to set (if you have the patience) before serving with a cup of tea.

This cake will keep happily in an air-tight container at room temperature for 2-3 days.