Sunday, January 27, 2013

Buttermilk Banana Bundt Cake with Brown Butter Icing.

On days where absolutely nothing goes right, I banana bread. There's just something so satisfying about smashing bananas with a fork, beating butter and sugar, and turning it all into cake. Especially a bundt cake... since everyone knows that bundt cakes are just effortlessly-baked cakes which are fancy, circular quick breads which means you just had cake for breakfast.

This sweet, dense, golden brown banana cake was everything I needed last week. If the secret to a perfectly-moist, sweet banana bread is overripe, mostly brown bananas (and a dash of cinnamon and buttermilk), then the secret to an in-your-face stressful week is an apartment that smells like warm, baked banana bread and the satisfaction of making something successful happen all on your own.

... and then pouring icing all over it. 

Icing this cake was a challenge. As I was smashing bananas into this cake, I kept thinking... don't do it. Do. Not. Do. It.

Do not brown that butter. Do not even think about browning the butter. Brown butter icing? Stop it. Do something new. Do something with chocolate. Something with... peanut butter. Or rum! 

Wait. You're still thinking about it. What are you... DROP THE BUTTER. 

Well. There was only one way that was ever really going to go. 

I fell in love with rich, nutty-sweet brown butter icing when I made a pumpkin buttermilk cake last fall and knew immediately when I pulled this cinnamon-spiced banana cake out of the oven that it would be that icing I poured all over the top of this thing. 

And staring down at that just-moments-ago-glazed-cake makes me realize what a good decision that was... and also crave an iced chocolate cake doughnut like nobody's business. It does look like a giant doughnut, right? Is it just me?

Note: do not write about sugar and cake at 7:16 in the morning.

Note: make giant doughnuts happen

Another helpful tip? Sift your powdered sugar before whisking in the vanilla and brown butter for your icing. If you're lazy/rushed and desperate for a slice of cake for dinner like me, you'll end up with these unappealing clumps in your icing. Not a big deal... just not very pretty.

This cake was nearly a chocolate chip-banana situation, but since the last two banana breads I baked were extra-sweet and full of chocolate and fresh berries (dark chocolate raspberry banana bread and white chocolate cranberry streusel banana bread), I really just wanted a banana bread so good and plain it could stand alone without all the add-ins.

Except, you know. For the mini chocolate chips I sprinkled on top.

I can't even. 

Buttermilk Banana Bundt Cake with Brown Butter Icing 

Printable Recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium bananas)

1/2 cup butter (confession: I always use salted butter)
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoons milk
Mini chocolate chips for sprinkling, if desired

Preheat oven to 350°F. Flour and butter a 10-inch bundt pan (or spray with nonstick cooking spray); set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the softened butter and granulated sugar until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated, then add the vanilla. 

Using a large spoon, stir in half of the flour mixture until just incorporated. Stir in the buttermilk, then the rest of the flour mixture. Quickly fold in the mashed bananas. 

Pour into prepared bundt cake pan and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and tests done in the center. Allow to cool 15 minutes in pan, then invert onto wire rack to cool completely.

To make the icing, add the powdered sugar to a medium bowl. Melt butter over medium heat and whisk until it begins to bubble up and foam. Continue to whisk until golden brown (more information on browning butter here). Remove from heat and pour into bowl of powdered sugar. Add milk and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Pour over top of cooled cake and sprinkle with mini chocolate chips, if desired. 

Source: Cake barely adapted from Lick the Bowl Good, originally from Southern Cakes. Icing from Amanda's Cooking.