Confession Time: When I go to a restaurant, the first section I look for is the desserts. I am specifically checking to see if there is creme brûlée on the menu, because I can never, ever get enough of that satisfying *crack*, followed by the prized cream within. If I find creme brûlée on the menu, I know it’s a salad kinda night. Can’t take up too much valuable stomach space with an Impossible Burger and fries. Nope.
Creme Brûlée is beautiful mix of textures. It’s known for having a shell-like sugar topping, with the creamiest custard underneath. A true showman of a dessert, the sugar is sometimes torched tableside for added drama. It is a dessert worth salad-ing for. (And yes, that’s a word. Okay it’s not a word.)
Second Confession Time: I’m a girl who is sometimes challenged by different textures in foods. If something looks texturally unappealing, I won’t eat it. If there are two clashing textures, I won’t eat it. If it’s grainy, or oily, or just has a funky-looking texture…you get the point. By all accounts, I should really not like this dessert, because the two textures technically clash. But when I say I love.this.dessert. It’s really quite ridiculous.
Which is why it needed to be made into a pound cake. 😊
About this Creme Brûlée Pound Cake
The thing that I typically don’t like about food textures is precisely the thing that I love about creme brûlée. The contrasting texture between that sugar topping and the ultra-creamy custard is simply irresistible. To have recreated it in pound cake form is something that I am particularly proud of.
And yes, you get to crack the sugared top. It wouldn’t be a proper creme brûlée if you couldn’t. 😊 Because who doesn’t like a good bit of showmanship when they’re cutting a cake?
But the cake, Friends. That’s the true kicker. This cake is so rich and-dare I say it-custardy while still having a perfect pound cake texture. I wanted to tenderize the crumb of this cake to the point where it melted in your mouth when you ate it. I wanted it to be a more literal translation into a pound cake.
And Friends. She is brilliant.
A Word About the Topping
Friends, it took many, many iterations before this pound cake was ready for prime time. One thing that I learned was to not burn the caramel topping. Burnt caramel will ruin the whole thing. After much trial and error, I’ve learned that:
- You should not torch sugar on top of your cake, because it will just burn;
- You should definitely pour melted sugar onto the cake and let it cook. It will give you a tremendous crack.
The secret to getting this right is to cook the sugar and take it off of the heat while it is still clumpy. It will continue to melt, without cooking much further. Keep stirring, and you’ll find that the mixture gets perfectly smooth without burning. Because we do not want to burn our sugar. Yuck.
I practiced with the sugar on a bread butt before putting it on the cake. It helped me tremendously with the final pour.
Creme Brûlée Pound Cake Ingredients
Unsalted Butter: The creamy, dreamy pound cake underneath that fabulous crackly top is a vanilla pound cake. While it needs salt to counteract the sweetness and richness, it’s important to really control the amount of salt in this recipe, so I’m recommending unsalted butter. Also, butter helps this cake become lighter! Specifically, the process of creaming butter and sugar creates air pockets that assist with cake rise.
Cream Cheese: There’s a very luxurious quality to this cake that makes it different from typical vanilla pound cake. It’s largely because of the cream cheese! That additional fat element helps give your taste that melt-in-your-mouth quality without sacrificing wonderful flavor.
Granulated Sugar: It goes without saying that pound cake needs something sweet to…well, be cake. 😊 However, did you know that granulated sugar is also responsible for caramelization? That beautiful crust on the outside of your pound cake? It is largely because of the sugar in your recipe!
Vanilla Bean or Vanilla Extract: You can use either; this is a matter of personal preference. I personally prefer the taste
Eggs: The protein in the eggs adds structure to the cake, while the fatty yolk adds delicious flavor. This recipe calls for six eggs and two egg yolks, which might seem like a lot. It is a lot! But the extra egg yolks add to the tenderization of the crumb, leading to an even more creamy cake texture.
All-Purpose Flour: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love, love, love the pleasantly plump texture of a good pound cake. In my experience (and with my cakes), that beautiful texture comes from all-purpose flour. That particular flour is absolutely perfect for this cake.
Baking Soda: Sour cream is a cultured ingredient. Because of that, baking soda was the proper leavening for this pound cake.
Kosher Salt: Salt is very important in any dessert; it balances the sugar and keeps the dessert from becoming cloyingly sweet. If using table salt for this recipe, cut the amount in half.
Sour Cream: I loved the final texture that sour cream lent to this cake. In a pinch, you can also use 250 g (1 c) of buttermilk. The cake won’t be as rich if you do, since sour cream is about 80% fat, and full-fat buttermilk is only about 1.5-2% fat. The additional fat continues to texturize the crumb, making it even more melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
Beginners Start Here
If you are new to baking (or just want to build your confidence with pound cakes in general), here are some resources from the Begin with Butter site and the Begin with Butter Home Baking Academy that will help you tremendously! Of course, they’re not required reading, but if you cozy up for a few minutes with a few of these articles, I promise you’ll feel much more confident
- My Favorite Bundt Pans
- Meet Your Kitchen BFF–Your Digital Kitchen Scale!
- Technique Tips for the Best Pound Cakes (& Big News!)
- How to Cream Butter and Sugar (With New Video!)
- Baking 101: How to Measure Ingredients
- How to Grease a Bundt Pan
- The Best Tools for Perfect Pound Cakes
- Knowing When to Stop a Technique
- Begin with Butter Home Baking Academy | Perfect Pound Cakes Class!
These resources are super helpful to help you build consistency and confidence on your baking journey.
Important Tools Used in this Creme Brûlée Pound Cake
Below, you’ll find some tools that I used for this pound cake. These are the tools that I use all the time in my own kitchen.
**I get paid a small commission if you purchase directly from some of these links, but they are truly amazing products that you’ll find in my kitchen.**
If you have them already, great! Think of this as a checklist to help you build the confidence that you’ll need to execute this recipe!
- Oven Thermometer
- Digital Food Scale
- KitchenAid Hand Mixer
- KitchenAid Stand Mixer
- Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl Set
- OXO Spatula Set
- Begin with Butter Home Baking Academy | Professional Techniques for Cookies and Cakes
This Creme Brûlée Pound Cake brings together all of the delicious elements of one of my favorite desserts! From the satisfying crack of the topping to the creaminess of the cake beneath, it is perfectly satisfying for those who love the classic dessert.
See you tomorrow for Day 3!Print
For the Cake:
- 384 g (3 c) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp kosher salt (if using table salt, cut in half)
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 173 g (.75 c) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 58 g (.25 c) cream cheese, room temperature
- 500 g (2.5 c) granulated sugar
- 6 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 egg yolks, room temperature
- 1 vanilla bean (or 2 tsp pure vanilla extract)
- 227 g sour cream, room temperature
For the Vanilla Simple Syrup:
- 67 g (1/3 c) granulated sugar
- 84 g (1/3 c) water
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Creme Brûlée Topping:
- 300 g (1.5 c) granulated sugar
To Make the Batter:
- Set your oven to a true 325°F. An oven thermometer is extremely useful here, since most ovens will not reach 325°F when set to 325°F.
- In a medium bowl, combine the granulated sugar and the contents of the vanilla bean (if using). Scrunch the vanilla beans into the granulated sugar to release the scent. Once done, set aside.
- Sift together the all-purpose flour, kosher salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Add the room-temperature butter and cream cheese to the bowl of your stand mixer or a large mixing bowl. Mix with your hand or stand mixer until the fats are completely smooth and combined. Add the vanilla-infused infused granulated sugar and cream until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, mixing each egg until completely incorporated into the mixture. Scrape the sides and bowl as needed to ensure even mixing.
- Add the vanilla extract (if using) and mix thoroughly.
- Add half of the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
- Add all of the sour cream and mix until just combined.
- Add the second half of the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, give the sides and bottom of the bowl a final scrape to ensure that the batter is evenly mixed.
- Prep a 10- or 12-cup bundt pan as you normally would (I use butter and flour to prep pans for this cake)
- Bake for 60-70 minutes in a true 325°F oven, or until an instant-read thermometer reads 210°F-212°F. You don’t want to overtake this cake or it could get dry.
To Make the Vanilla Simple Syrup:
- Add sugar, salt, and water to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Remove from the heat as soon as the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Add pure vanilla extract and stir to combine.
- Allow the cake to cool in its pan for ten minutes, then invert and place on top of a cooling rack. Brush simple syrup on the cake and allow to cool completely.
To Make the Creme Brûlée Topping:
- Add the granulated sugar in an even layer on the bottom of a saucepan. Turn on the saucepan to medium heat (not medium-high).
- Allow the sugar to melt a bit. You should see melted sugar at the top. Once you see melted sugar, use a rubber-handled whisk to continuously stir the mixture.
- When the mixture is about 50% smooth and glassy, remove from heat. Keep stirring until all of the clumps melt.
- Place the cooled cake on a cooling rack and put parchment paper underneath the cooling rack.
- Pour the desired amount of sugar immediately over the cooled cake and wait for 5-10 minutes. The sugar will harden and you’ll get that satisfying *crack* from your cake!
*It is very important to remove your sugar from the stovetop before all of the clumps are melted. You don’t want to pour burnt sugar all over your cake!