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Brown Butter Banana Bread

Let’s imagine that you were to brown six sticks of butter in one week. Hypothetically speaking, you’d watch six creamy blocks of pale yellow fat turn into a hot, bubbly liquid smelling of toasted hazelnuts and caramel. Going out on a limb here, I’m guessing you might start to wonder why we ever use unbrowned butter. Not that I would know.

I have so much to tell you about brown butter (and desserts involving said item) that I’m a tad embarrassed. Does she make anything else? (Yes, I promise, she eats greens from time to time.) I’ll spare you an onslaught of indulgence by plopping a salad in between, a bit of dietary comic relief so that you can enjoy brown butter and I can enjoy not getting made fun of.

So here’s brown butter project #2 of the past 7 days: a brown butter banana bread, jacked up with bourbon (Deb made me do it) and plenty of fresh nutmeg. It’s basically the recipe for my easiest cake ever, but it has mashed bananas, you bake it in a loaf pan, and it’s got enough potassium in it that I proclaim it a very legitimate option for breakfast. Brown butter for breakfast? I’m like the best babysitter ever.

Though I do not love bananas, I do love this banana bread. It tastes like whatever you ate as a child, but way better. Forget the canola oil, the mushy top crust, the strangely dry center. This is perfect. And if you have strong feelings about no banana bread being complete without chocolate chips, well jeez — whoever said you can’t improve on a good thing hasn’t tried brown butter chocolate chip banana bread, am I right?

Brown Butter Banana Bread
adapted from Deb, who adapted it from Elise 
As much as I love cinnamon, I wanted the nutmeg and brown butter to be heard in this here choir, so I left noisy cinnamon out. Otherwise, it’s basically banana bread with brown butter and bourbon. Stuffed my face on it, no big deal.

Oh, and hey: dark rum also goes really well, if you’re out of bourbon or are feeling tropical. Give it a whirl.

3 to 4 ripe bananas
1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons, but I won’t judge if you up it to a round 5 1/2) salted butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon or dark rum
1 1/2 cup of flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9×5 loaf pan or line with parchment paper.

Heat butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until butter melts completely. Then reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking until foam mostly subsides and/or butter has turned golden brown and smells nutty, about 5-7 minutes. Watch carefully to ensure that milk solids don’t burn. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

In a medium mixing bowl, mash bananas with the back of a fork until mostly smooth (a few lumps are okay). Add brown butter and brown sugar, and beat with a fork or whisk until completely combined. Whisk in egg, then vanilla and bourbon/rum, and give the mixture about 60 seconds of whisking to incorporate some air into the mixture.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Then add dry ingredients to the wet ones and stir until all the dry ingredients disappear. (If you’re feeling lazy, just add them directly to the wet ingredients. I won’t tell if you won’t.)

Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, until a tester inserted into the cake’s center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then lift or invert on a rack to cool completely. Serve warm or at room temperature.


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