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A Jam-Swirled Brown Butter (Perfect) Cake for Spring

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As someone who liked to draw outside the lines from a young age, I like projects that require you to get a little messy. This cake is just one of those projects.

Photo by Posie Harwood

Instead of requiring precise construction (like a pie crust) or intricate attention to detail (like cake frosting), this recipe actually encourages you to splatter and smudge. The surface of this cake should look like a sugared Jackson Pollock painting. Streaks of berry jam swirled across the surface serve two purposes: They give the cake a stunning appearance and they make every bite jammy and sweet.

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Photo by Posie Harwood

This is an old Eagle Brand recipe, but I’ve adapted it significantly: The original recipe has a thin layer of sugar cookie dough pressed into the base of the cake pan; I’ve skipped that part. (Don’t get me wrong, pouring cake batter over cookie dough is a brilliant idea, and I’ll be bringing you a recipe for exactly that in the coming weeks. How’s that for something to look forward to?)

This week, however, called for a quieter sort of indulgence. With a slew of busy days ahead of me, I wanted a simple—but no less special—cake waiting for me after dinner. Instead of full-fledged decadence, I’ve opted for something a little less flashy.

Photo by Posie Harwood

Restraint doesn’t equal less flavor. Condensed milk and brown butter give the cake a very moist crumb, and each tender, buttery bite has a modest, nuanced sweetness (thanks, brown butter) that helps to emphasis the fruit. On that note, I suggest using the best jam or preserves you can find. If you make your own, so much the better. I’ve used a mix of strawberry and raspberry, but any variety will work nicely.

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Photo by Posie Harwood

If your jam is on the thicker side, heat it up just slightly so it loosens a little before dolloping it over the cake batter. It will be easier to swirl. And then just have at it with the swirls, make a mess with the jam—it'll look cool regardless of how haphazardly you do it.

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Berry Butter Cake

1e4d7b52 fd4f 4798 ae19 d0f715768358  ry 400 Posie Harwood
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Makes one 8-inch square cake
  • 10 tablespoons butter at room temperature, divided
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 7 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup berry jam

What's your favorite straightforwardly delicious cake? Tell us in the comments.

Tags: back of the box, cake, butter cake, brown butter