Wednesday, 25 November 2015

brown butter loaf cake

I’ll always think of France when I think of brown butter, or beurre noisette - which literally translates to hazelnut butter. And let me tell you that I am truly, madly, deeply in love! That first nutty caramel aroma almost had me swooning! I kid you not - It really is that fabulous. One of my favourite cakes ever is Madeira cake, and this brown butter loaf tastes a bit like buttery Madeira cake with that distinct hint of caramel and vanilla. It’s light yet slightly dense and just delicious! I baked this during the middle of the night as I couldn’t sleep - which is why you’ll only see a slice on a plate and not a whole loaf. I’ve eaten about a quarter of it for a midnight snack and then breakfast.

With the exception of a yummy cake my bout of insomnia did turn out to be fruitful as I wrote a chapter of my novel and planned more recipes. And as is usually the case I am not totally loving what I’ve written in the harsh light of day, and will revisit the words later. The good thing is I’m writing properly again and am well and truly over my temporary creative tantrum when I decided to stop writing forever and burn everything. Reality isn’t quite as dramatic as I often imagine it and that’s the beauty of it. At least I can put it all down on paper – or tap it into a screen – though I have started actually writing bits on paper again, which I find really helpful. There’s something about putting pen to paper that’s so satisfying. Like reading a real book. I don’t think I’ll ever not read real book. The thought of reading an e-book terrifies me!

Anyway, enough of the rambling (I blame it on the sleeplessness and early morning coffee.) The science behind brown butter as you are creating the magic that is beurre noisette is simple and means that the water evaporates as the milk solids separate from the butter fat and only the fat remains in the pan. So for 100g of butter I’ll get around 80g of brown butter which is fine as it is more potent and is all fat.  As an aside don’t make the mistake of cooking up more butter for recipes to get more brown butter as you may end up using too much fat!

Ingredients (makes 10 slices)
200g self-raising flour
2 medium free range eggs
1/3 tsp salt
100ml milk
100g butter
170g sugar
1tsp pure vanilla extract

To make the beurre noisette

In a small pan (preferably light coloured) heat butter on medium heat until it melts and bubbles. Stir occasionally and when the bubbles subside you will begin to smell a toasty nutty smell. Keep a close eye on the butter to prevent burning and once it turns a light brown turn off the heat. This process will take for 4-5 minutes.

There will be dark flecks at the bottom of the pan which all add flavour so don’t worry about straining or throwing away. Once done remove off the hot stove and reserve to cool slightly for about 10 minutes.

Pre-heat your oven as your butter is cooling to 190c or 170c (fan) /gas mark 5

For make cake batter

After the butter has cooled for about 10 minutes start the cake batter but whisking eggs with sugar and salt and then add the milk and vanilla extract. Make sure the milk is cold as this will help cool down the warm butter.

Into the milk, egg and sugar mix add half of your flour and mix before slowly whisking in about half of the melted butter. Once incorporated add the remaining flour and the rest of the butter and mix thoroughly until you have a smooth batter.

Pour the batter into a greased and lined loaf tin and bake 45-55 minutes, or until a cake tester/toothpick comes out clean. For best results let the cake cool completely before slicing.

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