Du Beurre Noisette

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. You know those blackened, wizened, and wrinkly bananas that no one wants to eat?

They’re the sweetest and most flavorful bananas of all the land.  I swear.
They may not be the most beautiful nor the most appealing, especially if one intends on eating them straight up, but in a baked good, they put other bananas to shame with their sublimely sweet and intense flavor.
The process of banana aging is simple: the sugars in the banana flesh begin to break down, as do the aromatics (benzene compounds and esters), creating a more concentrated sweet, banana-y flavor, and a very mushy and brown banana.  
Not that any of that matters.  What does matter is that instead of throwing those bananas away, you promise to let them rot ripen and become a dark, dark brown, then stick them in your freezer for the next time you crave banana bread, cake, or muffins.  Simply pull them out an hour or so before you want to use them and put them in a warm spot to thaw.  Then you can squeeze the super awesome, mushy, melted flesh out of the wrinkly skins. So appetizing. It feels like squishing a giant slug. Mmmm baby.
While I’m on the subject of banana baked goods, and though I know many people before me have said this, everyone has got to stop declaring them moist.  That word seems wrong to describe a cake or bread… It feels voyeuristic and… crude.  Ick.  

Anyways.  This banana cake was a hit among my coworkers.  It’s soft, tender, and super buttery, thanks to the brown butter and brown sugar base, both of which help lock in the banana juices. (Is banana juices any better than moisture?  Methinks not.)  I topped it off with my favorite glaze that can be used for just about anything, from doughnuts to cakes to quick breads to eating straight out of the pan.  Again, featured prominently, is du beurre noisette (brown butter), whose nuttiness is perfectly balanced with a touch of maple syrup.

This cake has so many ingredients that might work themselves into the name that I couldn’t possibly use them all (brown butter-brown sugar-buttermilk-walnut-
coconut banana bundt with a brown butter maple glaze?  Too much of a mouthful), so I decided to keep it simple.  So, here’s the recipe for my brimming banana bundt!  It’s super moist.

In my haste to get to the lab, I forgot to take pictures with a real camera.  So instead, I have shaky iPhone pictures taken while hastily driving to work.   

Brimming Banana Bundt

Inspired and guided by the great Dorie Greenspan
4 super ripe bananas, mashed
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks, or 3/4 of a cup, or 12 ounces) unsalted butter
1 tightly packed cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
Big pinch sea salt
Generous tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 2/3 cup flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch each of ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice
Handful of shredded coconut (optional)
Generous handful (or two: up to one cup) of walnuts (also optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 10 cup bundt pan.
Place butter into a saucepan on medium heat and allow to brown, scraping all the lovely bits off the bottom of the pan as you go.  
Meanwhile, place sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  
Once the butter is properly brown and nutty smelling, add the mashed bananas to the pan and allow to cook for a minute or two.
Pour the buttered up bananas into the bowl with the sugars, and mix on medium speed until all the sugar is incorporated into the butter. 
Add in the eggs, and mix until combined. 
Add the vanilla, salt, spices, and buttermilk. Mixture will be super runny. 
Dump in the flour and baking soda all at once, and mix until the batter thickens and holds a ribbon. 
Stir in the walnuts and coconut, if desired.  
Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a skewer sent all the way to the middle of the cake comes out with just a few straggling crumbs. 
Invert out of pan after 10 minutes of cooling in the pan and allow to cool.
Brown Butter Maple Glaze
(good for everything. Seriously)
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons, 1/4 of a cup, 4 ounces) butter
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream, or more as needed
Directions:Brown butter in a saucepan. 
Once brown, dump in the sugar and whisk, creating what I like to call a “sugar roux”. 
Once a creamy paste has formed, add in the maple syrup and stir. 
Add in enough heavy cream so that the mixture is pourable (this can also be replaced, wonderfully, when it is available, with apple cider, which creates a beautiful autumnal glaze).
Pour over cooled cake.

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