Brown butter banana cake with brown butter cream cheese icing

October 24, 2020
I've always wanted to give brown butter a go, considering all the cheffy types love the flavour and believe it adds so much to sweet or savoury food. So I used it in this cake and frosting - rather excessive I thought but it makes an impressive cake! It's from Jill O'Connor's Cake, I Love You (Chronicle Books, 2017). The beurre noisette brings an extra depth of caramelness to the banana.

330g unsalted butter
3 c flour (I used spelt)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
4 eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 c brown sugar
1 c granulated sugar (I used coconut)
2 c mashed bananas
3/4 c sour cream or yoghurt
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp dark rum, optional (or brandy or bourbon)

For icing/frosting:
220g unsalted butter
450g cream cheese at room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla paste
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp dark rum, optional
pinch sea salt
6 to 8 c icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180C. Line 2 (23cm) or 3 (20cm) round cake tins with baking paper. Mine are actually 18cm round, which makes for a tall 3-tier cake.
In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter, Once melted, turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Boil for about 5-7 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the the milk solids at the bottom of the pan begin to brown and the butter develops a nutty aroma. Take off the heat immediately and transfer to a bowl to cool.
Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
In a large bowl beat eggs until frothy with a handheld electric mixer or stand mixer. Slowly add the sugars and continue beating until thick and doubled in volume, about 3-4 minutes. Mix in bananas, sour cream, vanilla and rum. Add half the dry ingredients and mix for a few seconds then add the rest and mix until just combined. Fold in brown butter with a spatula. Divide batter equally between your cake tins and bake for 35-40 min (for 2 tins) or 25-30 min (for 3 tins). This is now a good time to make the brown butter for your icing.
When cakes are cooked through transfer tins to a wire rack for 10 minutes then turn out onto the rack to cool completely.

To make the icing, make the brown butter as above. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
In a large bowl mix by hand or electric mixer the cream cheese and butter. Beat in the vanilla and salt and 4 cups of the icing sugar until smooth. Mix in rum. Your icing should be thick but spreadable. If it's too soft add as much of the icing sugar you need to reached your desired consistency. Set aside.

Once cakes are cooled place the first layer bottom side up on your serving plate or cake board. Top with about one third of the icing for a 2-tier cake or a quarter of the icing for a 3-tier cake. Top with your second cake layer and repeat. Refrigerate your stacked layers for 30 minutes to firm up. Then apply a thin coat of icing on top of the cake and around the sides to make a crumb coat. Place back in fridge for another 15-20 minutes to set. Spread final layer of icing on top and the sides.
Serve immediately or refrigerate covered. Allow cake to come to room temperature again before serving.

This is a great occasion cake; at least take your time to devour a piece with a hot cup of something. I actually had a slice for breakfast! Then bookended the day with another piece for dessert. Hey, don't judge me!


Gingerbread loaf

October 19, 2020

Do you ever get a craving for a thick slice of gingerbread slathered with butter? Oh, it must be just me! If you want a quick recipe, just chuck all these ingredients in a food processor and let electricity do all the work.

2 c flour (I used wholemeal)
3/4 c coconut sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg or allspice
1 c buttermilk or yoghurt (mixed with a little water if it's very thick)
1/2 c molasses
115g butter or coconut oil, melted
2 eggs
2 tsp ...
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Tiramisu ice cream

September 26, 2020

When I see tiramisu on a menu, I am compelled to order it! The there's nothing quite like a creamy, coffee, spongey dessert to end your meal. This healthy ice cream version is tiramisu reimagined, in a good way. It's from Jessica Sepel's Living the Healthy Life (Macmillan, 2017)

2 frozen bananas

1 tbsp tahini

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp instant coffee/espresso/Inka

1 tbsp cacao powder

pinch sea salt

1 c coconut cream or milk

few ice cubes, optional

crushed roasted peanuts and chocolate flakes to garnish

Just ...

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Life-changing crackers

September 25, 2020

Sarah Britton of My New Roots created the life-changing bread, using only seeds and psyllium. Here's the cracker version from Super Loaves & Simple Treats by Melissa Sharp (PK, 2017). They go so well with all kinds of sweet or savoury toppings, or just by themselves.

1/2 c sunflower seeds
1/3 c flaxseeds
1/4 c hazelnuts
3/4 c oats
2 tsp chia seeds
3 tbsp psyllium
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp seaweed flakes
2/3 c water
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 160C. Line 2 baking sheets with bakin...
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Yoghurt crackers

September 19, 2020

It's a cliche but these ARE easy and quick to make and will have you crunching in no time. Quicker than going out to buy crackers from the shop.

250g wholemeal flour, or flour of choice, plus extra for rolling

1/2 c yoghurt

2 1/2 tbsp milk of choice

2 tsp sea salt

1/3 c olive oil

1-2 tbsp water, as needed

3-4 tbsp olive oil for drizzling

3-4 tbsp seeds of choice (I used fennel, caraway and sesame)

In a bowl mix the flour, yoghurt, milk, salt and oil into a dough. You can do this in a food processor or...

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Black Forest gateau

September 16, 2020

Here's another excellent vegan chocolate cake (another one here) zhujed up with some cherries in the chocolate ganache. A 3-tiered cake means business! Thanks to Nadia Lim for the foolproof recipe. She says you can use any liquid but coffee gives more depth and richness to the cake.

2 1/2 c self-raising flour or plain flour with 3 1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 c cocoa

1 1/2 c sugar (I used coconut)

1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt

2 c coffee, water or milk (I used decaffeinated coffee)

2 tsp vanilla extract...

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Coffee cardamom cookies

September 15, 2020

The flavours here are very popular in the Scandinavian countries - it's a sophisticated biscuit. I was surprised that our 8-year-old liked them too; I used decaf coffee to mitigate any caffeine effects!

Makes about 24

2 c flour

1 tbsp ground espresso or 2 tsp instant coffee

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cardamom

pinch sea salt

115g butter

1/2 c soft brown sugar

1/4 c sugar (I used coconut)

1 egg

1 1/2 tbsp molasses

1 tsp vanilla extract


1/2 egg white (15g)

3/4 c icing sugar

1 1/2 tsp melted butter

1-2 tsp war...

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Dinner rolls

September 11, 2020

Here's an easy bread roll recipe mixed in the food processor - no need to knead!

Makes 12

1 c / 250ml water

2 tsp dried yeast

1 tsp sugar

3 1/2 c / 500g flour (I used spelt)

1 egg

50g butter, softened

1 tbsp salt

1 egg whisked with 1 tbsp milk for egg wash (or use milk)

Place all the ingredients in a food processor fitted with a blade and mix until a dough forms. Use floured hands to transfer the dough into a floured bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave to prove at room temperature for at least 2 hou...

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Healthy florentines

September 7, 2020

A refined-sugar-free treat for any time of the day. I think the thinness of a florentine is the secret to its success, so use flaked or slivered almonds. Pepitas and oats add extra nutrition.

Makes about 25

1/2 c rolled oats

1/3 c almonds

1/3 c finely chopped walnuts

1/3 c pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

1/3 c finely chopped apple-sweetened cranberries (I didn't have any so used sulphur-free apricots. Other tangy dried fruit would work well too, such as cherries or blueberries)

1 tsp mixed spice (or a mix o...

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Lavender and white chocolate sables

September 6, 2020

Sablés are just French versions of shortbread, i.e. very buttery and sugary! The lavender here is a subtle fragrance that complements the white chocolate well. A lovely crisp biscuit perfect with a cuppa.

Makes about 40
1/2 c sugar
2 tsp ground culinary lavender
2 1/3 c flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
225 g unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into pieces (omit salt if you use salted butter)
1 tsp vanilla extract
115g white chocolate, finely chopped

Put sugar and lavender in a bowl of a stand mixer or foo...
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EST. 2010

Frances Chan loves to bake. She's also a freelance editor and has written a couple of children's books. She shares some of her adventures, culinary or otherwise, on Instagram.

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