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 every day. 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.