Browned Butter Pound Cake with Banana Caramel
Sometimes you need cake. I've said that before, right? This is one of those amazing cakes that is great on its own, or with the caramel topping. You can grill slices if you want to get fancy, or just eat it standing up at the counter in the kitchen.
The browned butter adds a lovely toasty note to an otherwise beautifully plain cake. It is definitely worth the effort. The ingredients are not quite traditional (a pound each of flour, sugar, butter, and eggs) and yes, this has a bit of baking powder to give it extra lift, but you will get most of the loft from beating the eggs for a good long while. Take your time with that.
This makes two large loaves. Of course you can share a loaf, or stick one in the freezer for later. It freezes very nicely, especially if you slice it before sticking it in there, so you can take out a slice at at time as you see fit.
Also, just saying, but the banana caramel is pretty darn good with other treats, too, like vanilla ice cream. :)
Browned Butter Pound Cake with Banana Caramel
makes 2 9x5 cakes
2 cups (460g) unsalted butter
3 cups (374g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup (300g) granulated sugar
8 large eggs at room temperature
2 T vanilla extract
Maldon's or other flaky salt, optional
2 very ripe large bananas
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1. Line 2 9 x 5 pans with foil or parchment paper; set aside. Alternately, you can grease and lightly flour.
2. Brown the butter: Slice the butter into pieces and place in a light-colored skillet. The more surface area the better so go for a larger skillet, if possible. Melt the butter over medium heat, swirling occasionally. Once melted, the butter will begin to foam. Keep swirling occasionally. After 5-8 minutes, the butter will begin browning -- you'll notice lightly browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan and it will have a nutty aroma. Once browned, remove from heat immediately and pour into the bowl of your stand mixer (or other large bowl). Place in the refrigerator or freezer, and chill until mostly solid (about 30 -40 minutes in the freezer). When you remove it from chilling, you want it to be soft and 'squishy' but not hard.
3. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Make the cake: Whisk the flour and baking powder together in a large bowl. Set aside. Using your stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the solid brown butter together with the salt on high speed in a large bowl until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. You can of course do this with a hand-held mixer as well. Add the granulated sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer running on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla extract. Stir in the dry ingredients by hand until well-incorporated. Pour the batter into prepared loaf pans and bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour, 10 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean; if you feel like it is getting too dark, you can cover the top with a piece of aluminum foil. Remove the cake from the oven and set on a wire rack.
4. If you are not going to use the banana caramel, you can simply allow the cake to cool completely before slicing and serving. Cover and store leftover point cake at room temperature for up to 5 days.
5. If you are using the banana caramel, make the caramel while the cakes are baking. To top the cakes, once they are baked, place pans on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Using a small knife or offset spatula, gently loosen cake from sides of the pan, pull up on aluminum foil or parchment to lift cake out of pan, and place it directly on cooling rack. You will either want to put a piece of foil or parchment under the cooling rack or put the rack on a baking sheet (to catch the drips).
Use a bamboo skewer to poke holes in cake. Pour warm caramel glaze over cake to cover. Sprinkle each loaf evenly with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon flaky salt. Let cool 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
Cover and store leftover cake at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Make the banana caramel: 1. Mash the banana in a small bowl until very smooth. Set aside.
2. Cook the sugar and ½ cup water in a medium pot over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is just dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup is a dark golden brown, 14 to 16 minutes more. (If dark spots start to appear in the sugar mixture, gently swirl the pan to incorporate.)
3. Remove from heat and carefully add the vanilla, salt, and banana puree (the mixture will sputter); stir until combined.