vanilla bean-brownie cake


I recently came across a brownie butter cake via Pinterest. The visual contrast of the golden butter cake against dark brownie caught my eye and inspired this vanilla-bean brownie cake.

Vanilla Bean-Brownie Cake | Tutti Dolci

Flecks of vanilla bean perfume the tender pound cake while buttermilk creates a notably soft and springy texture. The fudgy brownie layer makes a striking counterpoint to the buttery cake, no frosting needed.

Vanilla Bean-Brownie Cake | Tutti Dolci

Vanilla Bean-Brownie Cake
Brownie Layer
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
6 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 cup flour

Vanilla-Bean Cake Layer
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped (can substitute 2 tsp vanilla extract)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg, at room temperature
2/3 cup low-fat buttermilk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350°F and line an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan with parchment paper. For the brownie layer, place butter, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium bowl and stir the mixture until combined – the texture will appear granular at this point. Stir in vanilla and egg. When the batter is thick and shiny, add the flour and stir until completely incorporated, then beat briskly for 40 more strokes. Use an offset spatula to spread batter evenly in prepared pan; tap pan once to remove air bubbles. Bake brownie layer for 10 minutes, just until batter looks set. Remove from oven.

Meanwhile, prepare vanilla-bean cake layer. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Place sugar and vanilla bean seeds in a food processor and pulse 30 seconds. Beat butter and vanilla-sugar in a large mixer bowl at medium speed until light and fluffy; beat in egg. Reduce speed to low and add half of flour mixture, beating just to combine. Add buttermilk, then finish with remaining flour mixture.

Layer cake batter over brownie layer; smooth top with an offset spatula. Bake for 45 minutes, rotating pan halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached and cake springs back to the touch. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes; carefully remove cake from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

Yield – 12 servings
Calories – 195 (per slice)
Carbs – 29


I’m so honored and thrilled to be nominated as one of the top five Baking blogs in the Better Homes and Gardens Blogger Awards. Voting runs through March 5 – I’d be so appreciative if you took a minute to head over and vote for your favorites here. Thank you for all of your support!

  1. Congrats, Laura! You are one wicked good baker, my dear. Your Top 5 spot is well deserved and I hope you win! I went to vote for you, but this is all done via Facebook? I’m not a member and, now, want to cry! I will search for another way to cast my vote. (I hope I find a way!) Love this recipe. I just adore vanilla and chocolate together…especially when vanilla beans are involved! 🙂

  2. Amazing! Just fabulous! It would never last long in my house!

    Congratulations on the nom, friend!! I was SOOOO excited to see your name! I hopped right over and voted for you – you deserve it! GOOD LUCK! xoxo

  3. Congratulations on a well deserved nomination. M vote for you has been cast. MY, but this cake looks great. I have got to try it! Best of luck in th final vote tally!

  4. It looks delicious!!! I want to make this tonight (late night cravings hehe) but I have no buttermilk, do you think if I used regular milk it would make much of a difference? 🙂

    1. Hi Brittany, you can make your own buttermilk at home – for 1 cup of milk, add 1 teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar, and let stand for 5 minutes. Hope that helps! 🙂

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