I’ve said it before..but you can’t beat the French in taking it up an extra notch when it comes to food…..Give them butter to make a cake…and they make it even more richer and nuttier by browning it. They call it ‘beurre noisette’. Although it sounds sexy..it is not entirely a French technique. It is a very Indian technique..or..art of making Ghee. We add ghee to almost all our desserts. There is an aroma and a sweet nutty flavor, that can be achieved only by ghee. I know ghee is called ‘Clarified Butter’ in English. I beg to differ. The method of clarifying butter and browning butter vary by the fact that in the latter, butter is cooked long enough to turn the milk solids and salt particles brown while cooking out any water present. It has a more complex flavor than melted or clarified butter.
I settled on this recipe from Gourmet Magazine for Browned butter pound cake, after a lot of time…hopping from site to site. I didn’t have cake flour on hand, so I substituted all purpose flour, with a little bit of corn starch. If you have cake flour, feel free to use it.
2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter
Cake flour substitute: 2 cups all purpose flour + 4 tbsp cornstarch**** OR 2 cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Caution: This is not something you put on the stove and walk away. See to it, like you would care for a baby. Please note that making browned butter, is not to make the butter turn brown in color. You are looking for a golden, amber shade. To keep your eye on the color, its better if you make this in a heavy bottomed stainless steel pot.
Place the butter in a pan over medium heat. Let melt. Stir the foam that comes to the top. Stir gently. Skim the foam to one side. When the milk solids turn a golden brown and settle to the bottom, like in the picture above, switch off stove. Move to a coaster(to prevent it from continuing the cooking). Let it cool for about 10 minutes or so. Tip the pan gently and decant the browned butter into your mixing bowl. Just leave behind whatever milk solids that are stuck to the bottom of the pan. Place the mixing bowl in the fridge for about 10 minutes, just until the butter congeals, but is still soft.
Remember, don’t throw the pan in the sink. Deglaze the pan, stirring to get all the browned stuck up bits with some warm water or stock and use this while making soups/curries etc. It adds a beautiful flavor even to savory dishes.
To make the cake:
Preheat oven to 325°F with rack in middle. Butter and lightly flour an 8 1/2- by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan.
*** Substitute for 1 cup of Cake flour: Measure 2 tablespoons cornstarch and add enough all purpose flour till it equals 1 cup
Sift together the all purpose flour, corn starch, baking powder and salt. Sift the mixture again. (Yep, sift a total of two times). Beat together brown butter and sugars with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just incorporated.
Transfer batter to pan, smoothing top, then rap pan on counter to settle batter. Bake until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. The top cracks while baking, its quite normal. Cool in pan 30 minutes and then on a wire rack.
Verdict: Nutty, buttery, sweet and rich..hmm..did I say buttery?? yeah…deserves to be said again and again. This cake reminds me of the cake we made on Christmas, with the butter made fresh at my grandma’s house. The butter was made by collecting the fat from milk, which was then churned and made into fresh butter. There has never been a cake that has matched that flavor. This one came close…Pin It