Making my sisters birthday cake gets harder and harder as I try to top it year on year. I’m not sure I necessarily topped my Buttercream Wreath Flower Cake or my Brushstroke Layer Cake this year, but it was definitely tasty and the birthday girl loved it which is always the main thing!
The sponge is packed with chunks of banana and roasted hazelnuts, smothered in brown butter frosting and drizzled with salted caramel. I’ve then topped it with chocolate and hazelnut truffles, because a birthday is a perfect excuse to go overboard on the decoration!
Banana bread is one of my favourite cakes, its so moist and easy to whip up. So turning it into a more extravagant layer cake was really fun, especially given how well it pairs with hazelnuts, chocolate and caramel!
I kept the banana quite chunky so there are pockets of gooey banana throughout the cake. This combined with the crunchy texture of chopped hazelnuts works really well. Though, if you really wanted to go to town, you could even add chunks of chocolate to the mix!
Now for the brown butter frosting. If you haven’t made anything with brown butter before, listen up, because its amazing!! Browned butter, is effectively heating butter in a pan until it turn a lovely golden brown colour. It’ll also smell gorgeously nutty which adds a gorgeous flavour to your bakes. Brown butter cookies are a particular favourite!
The frosting pairs so well with the banana cake, and is subtle enough to still let the other flavours shine.
The salted caramel drizzle adds a delicious sweet/salty element that cuts right through the cake. My trick for getting the perfect drip, is to drizzle around the edges of the cake first before filling in the top. This way you get perfect drips around the edges, without spending hours spreading from the top and potentially messing up your frosting!
The final element to this quite extravagant cake is the chocolate and hazelnut truffles. These are so delicious, and luckily for you the recipe makes more than enough, so theres plenty to eat afterwards! I always think truffles are the perfect bake to make for non-bakers as though they’re simple to make they look deceptively tricky!
They do take a few hours to make, as they need time in the fridge to get to the perfect ‘scoopable’ consistency. So make sure to start the truffles first, and whilst they’re in the fridge you can get cracking on the cake. Planning is key in a cake like this with lots of elements!
All in all, I’m pretty happy with how yummy this turned out! I hope you like it as much as I do!
Banana, Hazelnut and Brown Butter Cake
- 225 g milk chocolate
- 60 ml double cream
- 50 g nutella
- 15 g unsalted butter
- 45 g hazelnuts finely chopped
- 500 g bananas approx. 5/6
- 150 g hazelnuts skin-on
- 125 ml vegetable oil
- 125 g light soft brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 200 g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch sea salt
Salted Caramel Sauce
- 100 g soft light brown sugar
- 50 g golden syrup
- 75 g unsalted butter
- 75 ml double cream
- 1 tsp sea salt
Brown Butter Frosting
- 150 g unsalted butter room temperature
- 500 g icing sugar
- 4 tbsp whole milk
- For the truffles: Place 112g of the chocolate into a heat-safe bowl and either melt over a saucepan of boiling water, or in a microwave in 15 second increments. Stir until the chocolate is almost completely melted, then set aside.
- Pour the cream in a small saucepan over a medium heat, whisking occasionally until it just begins to boil. Then take off the heat and pour over the chocolate, gently (don't be forceful!) stirring until combined and smooth. Then stir in the nutella and butter until smooth, then finally stir in half of the hazelnuts. Cover the mixture with cling film, pressed onto the mixture and leave at room temperature for 15 minutes. Then place in the fridge until it reaches 'scoopable' consistency, about 4 hours. Line a large baking tray with baking paper and set aside.
- Once the mixture has reached 'scoopable' consistency, remove from the fridge and measure 1tsp of mixture and roll into balls. The mixture will be sticky, coating your hands in cocoa powder will help a little. Place onto the baking tray, and repeat with the rest of the mixture. Leave the truffles to 'air dry' for 15 minutes, and then re-roll each to get a neater 'ball' shape. The mixture should make 20-25 truffles.
- Meanwhile melt the remaining chocolate and then dip each truffle in. When lifting the truffle out of the chocolate (a fork works best for this), tap it onto the side of the bowl to remove the excess chocolate. Then place back onto the baking tray. Sprinkle the truffles with the remaining hazelnuts and leave aside until the chocolate has completely set.
- For the cake: Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas Mark 5 and line three 18cm-round cake tins and set aside.
- In a small bowl mash the bananas together, making sure to leave some chunky pieces and set aside. Then roughly chop the hazelnuts and in a dry frying pan, roast them until they are just toasted. Set these aside too.
- In a large bowl, using an electric whisk, beat the oil and the sugar together. Then add the eggs in one at a time, making sure they are fully incorporated. Beat the mixture for 5 minutes until the mix is thick and creamy. Mix in the banana, hazelnuts, flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt until just combined and the batter is smooth. Be careful not to overmix this.
- Evenly spoon the mixture into your prepared baking tins and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out almost clean (It's okay to leave it a little undercooked as the cake will continue to cook in the tins). Leave the cakes in the tins for 10 minutes, before placing them on wire racks to cool completely.
- For the salted caramel sauce: Add the sugar and golden syrup into a small saucepan with a few splashes of water. Let it simmer over a medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring continuously until you have a smooth caramel. Then add the butter, cream and sea salt and keep stirring. Be careful as the mixture will bubble up. Turn the heat down, and cook for another minute until the mixture is thickened. Then pour into a heat-safe bowl, let cool completely and set aside.
- For the frosting: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low temperature, and keep cooking until it turns a nutty golden brown colour. Keep an eye on it, as it can go black quickly and you don't want that! Take it off the heat.
- In a large bowl, add the icing sugar and whilst using an electric whisk slowly pour in the melted butter. The mixture will be very thick and lumpy. Add in the milk 1tbsp at a time, whisking until you reach a smooth buttercream consistency. Then set aside.
- To assemble: Place one of the cakes onto a serving plate or cake board, and spread on a 1/4 of the frosting. Then place another cake on top and spread on another 1/4 of frosting. Finally add the final cake and cover the top and sides with the remaining frosting. Using a palette knife, scrape around the sides so the frosting is flush to the cake.
- Then using a spoon drizzle the salted caramel sauce around the edges of the cake, coaxing it off the edge to create 'drips' of different sizes. Then fill in the top of the cake with the remaining sauce. Finally add truffles onto the top of the cake.