3 layers of moist almond cake, with a brown butter Swiss meringue buttercream, topped with festive decorations and sprinkles. This is the ultimate show stopper Vegan Brown Butter Reindeer Christmas Cake, perfect for a festive gathering.
This post has been created in collaboration with Naturli. All opinions expressed in the post are my own. (For more information you can check out my Disclosure Policy.)
This cake combines two of life’s greatest flavours- almond and brown butter!
This was my first time making brown butter and frankly, I’m shocked i’ve never made it before.
Making a small tweak to ordinary butter with no other added ingredients can transform it into an alternative flavour which is perfect for baking!
What is brown butter?
Brown butter / burnt butter is regular butter which has been ”browned”. It’s basically heating and melting butter until it turns into a golden colour and slightly toasting it. It gives off a toasty, nutty flavour and aroma.
If you’ve never tried brown butter, prepare for your life to change! Brown Butter is basically just lightly burnt / toasted butter!
Christmas isn’t the same without Rudolph so let me welcome a brand new reindeer cake to my collection. This one can be named Dasher- haha!
This cake has 3 layers of incredibly easy to make, and moist almond sponge cake.
I’ve added roughly chopped almonds to the sponge which adds a nice nutty crunch to the cakes, along with almond extract to elevate the almond flavour!
I baked the cakes in three 8” tins – the perfect size cake for a festive family gathering!
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What butter to use?
When making any kind of vegan meringue buttercream, a good quality block butter is essential and as butter is the star ingredient of brown butter, you want to use a high quality block butter.
This block butter is 100% vegan, it melts the same as ‘regular butter’, and tastes delicious. When you toast this butter to make brown butter, the flavours really come through.
This is one of the best plant based / vegan block butters I use in my baking!
Naturli is a plant-based food company based in Denmark. They have a selection of tasty plant based products and as I have already said one of my favourites that I love to use in my baking is their Naturli block butter.
It’s extremely versatile as you can spread it on toast, add it to sauces, pastry (like my new Giant Vegan Mince Pie Tart recipe) and to create the BEST Swiss meringue buttercream!
Naturli also have a spreadable version which can be used in similar ways to the block butter. But to make the perfect Swiss meringue buttercream which is thick, silky smooth and easy to make, block butter is essential.
Why use block butter in Swiss meringue buttercream rather than margarine?
As Swiss meringue uses liquid from the aquafaba, having a stiffer butter is key.
Block butter allows you to add the chickpea brine, while still keeping a firm buttercream.
I like to use my Naturli Block straight from the fridge so it’s cold. This makes the buttercream extra firm.
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees c fan and line three, 8 inch cake tins with grease-proof paper.
If you only have 1 or 2 tins, you’ll have to bake the cakes separately. Cover the batter with a tea towel until ready to use. Give it a gentle stir before pouring into the tins.
In a bowl, combine the dairy-free milk with the apple cider vinegar and whisk until fully combined. Set aside for 10 minutes to curdle. This creates a vegan ‘buttermilk’.
In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, finely chopped almonds, sugars, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Mix well to combine.
Add the oil and almond extract into the ‘buttermilk’ and whisk to combine.
Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix.
Pour equal amounts of batter into the lined cake tins. Make sure to tap the tins on the worktop to remove any air bubbles.
Pop the cakes into the centre of the preheated oven and bake for around 25-30 minutes.You will know they are done when you put a knife or skewer in the centre and it comes out clean and they are springy to the touch.
Place the cakes on a cooling rack and allow to cool fully. Once cool, pop them into a sealed container to keep them fresh before frosting.
METHOD (BROWN BUTTER)
Place the butter into a medium sized saucepan. Place on the hob over low / medium heat.
Whisk the mixture frequently. Once the butter has melted, and after around 5 minutes, it will begin to foam up. Keep stirring, it will subside. Watch carefully as browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the saucepan. The butter should have a nutty smell to it too! You don’t want it to fully burn, so keep an eye on it and remove from the heat when its just toasted.
Once the butter smells nutty and is golden in colour, remove from the heat and pour immediately into a heat proof sealed jar or container. Place into the fridge overnight to set, ready for making the buttercream.
In a large mixing bowl, add in the browned butter, whip until creamy. I use a stand mixer with a balloon whisk attachment, a hand mixer will work great too.
Sift in the icing sugar and add in the vanilla extract. Whip on high speed for a couple of minutes to incorporate it.
Pour in the aquafaba (chickpea brine) and whip for 5 minutes until it turns thick and creamy. Don’t over whip it or it can become too soft. If it goes too soft add more icing sugar, or too thick, add chunks more butter to get it to a smooth and creamy consistency.The buttercream should be sufficient enough for the filling and decoration.
Place one of the cakes on a serving plate or cake stand. Dollop some of the buttercream on top and spread out until even using an off-set spatula or pallet knife.
Optional: Sprinkle over some flaked almonds between each layer.
Place the second cake layer on top. Press it down gently so it sticks. Do the same with the 3rd cake layer.
Coat the whole cake with a thin layer of buttercream using an off set spatula. This creates a crumb coat. Place the cake into the fridge to set. This will take around 10-15 minutes. Chilling the cake makes it easier when adding the final coat of buttercream.
Transfer the rest of the buttercream into a large piping bag fitted with a large star tip nozzle. To create the ‘knitted’ wavy effect, pipe lines of buttercream, starting at the base of the cake all the way up to the top and repeat. When piping the lines, give them a little wiggle to create the wavy effect. Repeat all the way around the cake.
Roll two small balls of black fondant for the eyes and place on the front of the cake (as seen in the photos and video). You could use chocolate drops if you don’t have black fondant.
For the ‘nose’ you can either roll out a larger ball of some red fondant or use a small red bauble (Make sure to remove any non edible decorations before serving the cake!).
Press two twigs into the top of the cake, and decorate the top of the cake with any decorations you fancy!
I used a mixture of some twigs, sugar coated cranberries, dairy-free chocolate gingerbread men, whole almonds and some vegan snowflake sprinkles. And voila, a a magical woodland cake!