Put some butter in a pan, place it on the stove and let it melt... swirl it gently and watch as it turns from gold to a rich amber, and then snatch it off the heat. You have made brown butter! The simple act of cooking butter gently for a few minutes adds delicious toasty notes, which are perfect for any number of recipes. Today I'm pairing it with dark chocolate and nuts in a Brown Butter, Banana and Pecan Nut Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache.
For the cake:
340g unsalted butter (plus more for pans)
380g plain flour
2 1/2 tsps baking powder
1 1/4 tsps salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
5 medium ripe bananas, mashed
240ml low fat buttermilk
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
225g soft light brown sugar
165g chopped toasted pecans
For the ganache:
110g unsalted butter
450g semi sweet chocolate (or use a mix of dark and milk)
3/4 tsp salt
480ml double cream
To make the cake
Place the butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat and cook, swirling occasionally, until it turns a rich amber. Remove it from the heat and pour it into a bowl. Be careful not to overcook it or it will be bitter! refridgerate until softly set.
Preheat the oven to 180C (fan 170C). Butter and line the bases of 3 20cm pans with baking parchment.
Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and bicarb into a bowl. In a separate bowl mix the mashed bananas and buttermilk.
In a third bowl, using an electric hand whisk, beat the brown butter and sugar until light and fluffy- about 5 minutes should do it. Add the egg gradually, and then add the banana and flour mixes alternately, each in 3 parts. Fold through the pecan pieces.
Divide the mix between the 3 prepared tins and bake in the oven for 35 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.
To make the ganache
Brown the butter as above, and add to the chocolate and salt in a heat proof bowl. Heat the cream til near boiling point, and pour it over the chocolate mix. Leave to stand for 2 minutes and then whisk to a smooth paste. Let it cool and thicken at room temperature.
To assemble the cake
If your cakes have rounded tops, slice these off to level using a bread knife. Place one cake on your cake plate, smooth the top with ganache and then add the second cake. Repeat. Using the remaining ganache, cover the top and sides of the cake - a turntable and offset palette knife will be useful for this if you have them. I've decorated the top of my cake with pecan halves and dried banana slices, but a little sprinkling of flaky seas salt is also good!