Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pecan Brown Butter Bread

This recipe is chock full of pecans, some existing in the cake and again in with the sweet streusel filling.  Toasting the pecans and browning the butter is a must to bring out the true flavor of the pecans.  This is great for breakfast or an afternoon snack.

Pecan Brown Butter Bread
adapted from LA Times/November 3rd, 2010 

1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs butter, divided
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs (room temp)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cup brown sugar, divided
2 cups plus 1 1/2 tsp flour, divided
2 cups shelled pecans

First, you will need to do your prep work.  Butter the inside of a 9X5 inch loaf pan.  Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

To make the brown butter, melt 1/2 cup of butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  I used a white enamel saucepan, since you can see the color of the butter as it cooks.  After the butter is melted, continue to cook for an additional 8 minutes, whisking the whole time.  Your butter should be nut brown when done.  Pour into a heat resistant bowl. If you find that black or brown particles have settled in the bottom, use a mesh strainer when pouring.  Place bowl in the fridge to cool. Cooling time ranges from 30-40 minutes.

As the butter is chilling, the pecans will need to be toasted.  Place all two cups in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Put pan in oven and toast the pecans.  This should take about 15-20 minutes.  Take the sheet out of the oven and let the pecans cool.  When they cool enough to be handled, chop each pecan into 1/4 or smaller size pieces.  Toasted pecans are very brittle,  so I used my fingers to break them up into pieces.

Take out 1/2 of the pecans for the streusel filling and set aside the rest.  Combine the pecans, 1 1/2 tsp of flour and 1/3 cup brown sugar.  Then stir in the 2 tbs of butter using a fork until the streusel is very crumbly.  Do not over mix. Set aside.

To make the bread, start by sifting together remaining flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and put aside.  Take out the brown butter and empty it into a mixing bowl.  Add the remaining brown sugar to the butter and cream both ingredients together using an electric mixer.  It should take about three minutes for the batter to become light and fluffy.  Still using your electric mixer, beat in the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla extract.

Fold 1/3 of the flour mixture into the batter with a wooden spoon. Once no flour remains, fold in 1/3 of the sour cream. Continue with this process until all flour and sour cream are mixed in. Put in the rest of the toasted pecans and stir until evenly distributed.

At this time, your batter will need to be split in two halves.  You can measure it out and separate evenly (which is the best method) or you can divide by sight.  If the batter is unevenly divided, the top of your bread will sink (streusel to close to top) or the loaf will stick to the pan (streusel too close to bottom).

Put 1/2 of the batter into prepared pan.  Run a wet knife over the batter to make it smooth and even.  Sprinkle on the streusel, making sure that all the batter is covered.  Spoon the rest of the batter over the streusel and smooth the top again.

Bake in oven until golden brown and tester comes out clean, about 55-60 minutes. Remove from the oven and place pan on wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Then empty pan, letting the loaf continue to cool on a wire rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature.