Brown Butter Pecan Loaf Cake

The brown butter in this brown butter pecan cake gives a nutty, caramel flavour, which pairs perfectly with crunchy chopped pecans for a light, flavoursome loaf cake.

brown butter pecan cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brown butter, or buerre noisette if you’re feeling French and fancy, is basically what happens when you leave butter on the hob too long. You begin by simply melting in, then continued heating makes it froth and foam and smell warm and nutty, and suddenly basic butter is transformed into an exciting new ingredient.

Usually when I bake, I use Stork spread (or Stork with butter when it’s on offer) because I bake A LOT and butter in everything just wouldn’t be healthy. Stork spread makes me feel like it won’t be all that bad (although I’m sure that’s a lie I tell myself). Stork, and other baking spreads, are also great in that they soften quicker and it’s much easier to cream together with sugar. But if it’s a particularly indulgent occasion, there is no substitute for that creamy, dreamy taste of real butter.

And so, after baking 40 cupcakes and 20 biscuits for a family christening, I found myself with half a packet of butter left over in the fridge. I’ve heard a lot about brown butter, and it seems to be having its day recently, so I thought I’d try giving it a go.

I’m really glad I did, because this brown butter pecan cake is the cake of dreams. Brown butter is so simple to make (and it’s quite easy to avoid burning it if you keep an eye on it). It has a rich, buttery, slight caramel flavour and it pairs so well with pecan nuts. If you don’t have pecans, I imagine it would also go well with walnuts or even hazelnuts, but I had a packet of pecan nuts in the cupboard after last month’s pumpkin pie recipe, so that’s just what I used!

If you’ve not tried browning butter before, I’d certainly recommend having a go. It’s very easy, adds a different flavour to an otherwise basic bake, and it’s a fun new skill to learn that makes you feel super-profesh in the kitchen arena. First stop, browning butter, next stop Masterchef! (Maybe…)

(P.S. If there’s anyone out there chemically minded, what’s the difference between clarified butter and brown butter? Is brown butter just clarified butter that’s cooked for longer or is there more to it? Life’s mysteries. I’ll never make it to Masterchef.)

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Brown Butter Pecan Loaf Cake

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 1 loaf cake

Brown Butter Pecan Loaf Cake

The brown butter in this brown butter pecan cake gives a nutty, caramel flavour, which pairs perfectly with crunchy chopped pecans for a light, flavoursome loaf cake.

Ingredients

  • FOR THE CAKE
  • 150g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 2tbsp semi-skimmed milk
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 75g chopped pecan nuts
  • FOR THE SUGAR SYRUP
  • 2tbsp light brown soft sugar
  • 2tbsp boiling water
  • FOR THE TOPPING
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1tbsp cold water
  • Handful of whole pecans

Instructions

  1. First, brown the butter. Add the butter to a saucepan and melt over a medium heat, swirling occasionally to evenly distribute the heat. Continue heating until the butter starts to bubble and foam, and will be quite noisy. Heat for about 4 minutes or until it stops bubbling and goes quiet (it will be foamy on the top, and it should be a toast-brown colour and smell sweet and nutty). Remove from the heat. Pour into a bowl, trying to avoid pouring in the foam from the top and the sediment on the bottom of the saucepan. Allow to cool for about three hours or until it sets again.
  2. Next, pre-heat the oven to 180°c/350°f/gas mark 4. Line a 1lb loaf tin with a paper liner or with greaseproof paper.
  3. Beat together the browned butter and sugar with an electric whisk. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, then slowly add to the butter and sugar. Whisk until combined.
  4. Sieve in the flour and baking powder and use a large metal spoon to fold into the mixture until just combined. Add the milk, vanilla, and pecan nuts, and fold in gently.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the pre-heated oven for about 35-40 minutes, or until golden in colour and when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  6. For the sugar syrup, pour the water over the sugar and stir to dissolve. Whilst the cake is still warm, stab all over the top with a skewer, then pour the sugar syrup over.
  7. To make the caramel topping, add the sugar and water to a saucepan. Heat gently, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved, turn the heat up to a medium-high heat then allow the mixture to bubble until it turns a golden brown, dark straw colour. Do not stir during this, just swirl the mixture around the pan. Once the caramel has achieved the desired colour, remove from the heat. Add the pecans and toss gently to coat, then transfer to a sheet of greaseproof paper. Swirl any remaining caramel onto the paper to create a spun-sugar type effect. Once completely cool, break up the pecan caramel into chunks and add to the top of the cake, along with the caramel swirls. ▪
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