There is a lot of flavor packed into this deceptively simple looking Browned Butter Banana Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting. You might not know it at a glance, but the cake is rich with the flavors of sweet bananas and brown sugar, floral vanilla and nutty – and addictive – browned butter. This is the kind of everyday cake that is easy to make and absolutely satisfying to eat, with lots of flavor and very little work involved in putting it together.
The first step in making this cake is browning the butter, which can be done on the stovetop or in the microwave. Browned butter has an amazing nutty flavor to it that adds a lot of dimension to baked goods made with it. The butter is stirred into the rest of the cake ingredients, which go together a lot like your average banana bread recipe. I added a few walnuts before baking to give my cake a bit of crunch, though that is entirely optional if you don’t care for nuts in your cake.The cake bakes up to be moist and slightly dense, thanks to all the bananas in the mix, but it is very tender and very satisfying. It’s not too sweet (the frosting is sweet and a nice contrast to the cake) and the combination of the brown sugar and browned butter will keep you coming back for seconds. The cake is made in an 8-inch square pan and is perfect for serving in 9 generous squares .
The frosting has a delicious brown sugar flavor to it and is spread onto the cake while it is slightly warm. It is made with melted butter, so it almost has a pourable, glaze-like consistency to it. Since it calls for melted butter and there is browned butter in the cake, you might want to consider browning your butter for the frosting when making this recipe to get a little extra browned butter in there to make the cake even more irresistible. The frosting is delicious either way, and the brown sugar flavor is one that will go well on many different types of cake as well as this one.
Browned Butter Banana Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup browned butter, cooled
1 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tbsp milk or buttermilk
1 cup mashed banana (approx. 2 large bananas)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking pan.
In a small saucepan, or in a large, microwave-safe bowl, brown the butter. Allow it to cool for about 10 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, egg, mashed banana, milk and vanilla extract. Whisk in the cooled brown butter. Whisk in the flour mixture gradually, mixing only until no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Fold in chopped walnuts, if using, then pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs attached.
Allow to cool completely before frosting with Brown Sugar Frosting.
Brown Sugar Frosting
3 tbsp butter*
3 tbsp light brown sugar
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 – 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. Pour hot butter into a large bowl and stir in the brown sugar. Sugar should dissolve in the hot butter. Stir in milk, vanilla and about 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar. Whisk until very smooth. If icing seems runny, stir in 1/2 cup additional confectioners’ sugar. The finished icing should be slightly thick and smooth, but still easy to pour and spread.
Pour on top of cooled cake and use a spatula to spread it into the corners of the pan. Allow frosting to cool and set for at least 1 hour before serving.
Makes enough for an 8 or 9-inch cake.
*Note: You can also use browned butter in this frosting, but butter should still be hot when mixing it into the rest of the frosting ingredients.