Caitlin’s Confections: Brown Butter Lemon Cakes

The weather has finally taken a positive turn in New England and I am all for it. The amount of rain we got over the last month was absurd. Not only was it the only thing people could talk about, but it was also really getting people down. For me, when I’m feeling particularly dreary, I bake. Yes, that does have to do, in part, with the fact that I can stand at the open oven door afterwards. However, I find that sweet treats make a grey afternoon far better.

I posted a recipe for one of my favorite confections, lemon bars, a long time ago. Today, I want to put a bit of a twist on the recipe. Cue brown butter lemon tea cakes.

Lemon bars are one of my favorite desserts for how simple and tasty they are. I’m a big fan of a great sour-sweet combo and these cakes take things one step further. The base is light and buttery and the filling really brightens the dessert. The lemon flavor (from real lemons, of course!) is bold enough to counter the soft crust, pairing perfectly, while remaining just sweet enough.

Brown butter is a trick I’ve seen a lot of my favorite bakers/food bloggers use. Heating up a few sticks on the stove and letting it darken into a nutty, complex flavor really adds something extra to a lot of desserts. I highly suggest not skipping this step, however, regular microwave melted butter will also do the trick.

Presentation, while not always necessary, is almost always a whole lot of fun. That being said, I topped my cakes with candied lemon slices and powdered sugar. I was surprised at how easy making candied lemon slices is and how much they add to the dessert. If you’re interested, I really liked making this batch.

I know lemon isn’t a fan favorite flavor, but I hope that you’ll consider giving these brown butter lemon cakes a try. I think they’d be a wonderful dish for a spring tea or a dinner party. If you do, let me know in the comments below how they turn out!

Ingredients (Crust)

2 tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice

1 tbsp. Lemon Zest

2 Sticks Butter, Browned

2 Cups Flour

1/2 c Powdered Sugar

Ingredients (Filling)

4 Eggs

2 c Sugar

1/2 c Fresh Lemon Juice

2 tbsp. Lemon Zest

1/4 c Flour

1 tsp. Baking Powder


In a stand mixer, combine flour and browned butter until smooth. Add lemon juice and zest before sifting in powdered sugar. Mix dough until thoroughly incorporated.

Note: to brown butter, heat sticks in a pan on the stove until melting and a color change occurs.

Spoon a dollop of dough into a lined cupcake sheet (remove liners later) and flatten with the back of a spoon. Bake for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees, or until golden brown. Allow to cool for a short time before poking small holes in the crust with a fork and adding the filling.

To make the filling, whisk eggs and sugar thoroughly before adding lemon juice and zest. Slowly incorporate the flour and baking powder to create a smooth, liquid texture. Pour about a quarter cup of filling over each baked crust and return to the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the filling is solid all the way through. Allow lemon cakes to cool completely before serving.

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