Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Banana Cupcakes with Vanilla Pastry Cream

I'm afraid I entered into a paradoxical pair of New Years' resolutions this year. I resolved to

1) Bake my way through Baked. Yummy.
2) Get in better shape and lose some weight. Bleh. 

Also, completely contradictory! Especially when you consider that eating something delicious is fun and enjoyable, while exercising is boring and painful. For me, at least. 

I'll spare you the shameful details of my sad state of fitness. But three weeks of consistent exercise has started to make some difference. It feels slightly less horrible than when I started. And my heart rate during my workout is 10 bpm slower than when I started, which I think is good. I think. I don't actually know anything, but I'm just going to assume it's good because it feels better to think I'm getting some results. 
The weight on the other hand...I know it's a slow road, and that diet is a huge part of it. And I've been watching what I eat. Except, you know, all the delicious stuff I have to make every week. And I HAVE to test it so I can give you and informed opinion. It is a responsibility I take seriously, the eating of delicious things so I can tantalize you from afar. 

Really, though, I have been careful about what I eat. It is a difficult thing to do. But these cupcakes are the kind of thing that make the agonizing self-control seem worth it. Sweet, creamy, not overpoweringly rich...they make me happy. Even though I can only have one or two. 

One thing I learned though: I am terrible at filling cupcake liners. 


A tip I learned: underfill. Cupcakes that don't quite make it to the top of the liner are small but not ugly. Cupcakes that overflowed and merged with their neighbor cupcakes are always ugly. 

And just ignore the fact the ugly cupcakes still taste delicious. Ignore it.

Banana Cupcakes with Vanilla Pastry Cream (printable recipe)

  • 2 3/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 c sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 c mashed very ripe bananas (3-4 bananas)
  • 1/2 c buttermilk
  • 3 c half-and-half
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two 12-cup cupcake pans with paper liners.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a large bowl and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together on medium speed until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, add the eggs, and beat until just combined. Turn the mixture to low. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.
  4. Fill the cupcake liners about two-thirds full, erring on the side of underfilling. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, until cupcakes test done. Transfer pans to wire rack an let cool for 20 minutes. Remove the cupcakes fom the pans and place them on the rack to cool completely.
  5. To make the vanilla pastry cream, bring the half-and-half to a simmer in a medium saucepan and keep warm.
  6. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt together until the mixture is pale, about 1 minute. Whisk half of the warm half-and-half into the egg yolk mixture, then pour that mixture into the remaining half-and-half in the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla.
  7. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl and strain the pastry cream through it. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until chilled.
  8. Frost cupcakes using your favorite method.
Recipe courtesy of Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Copied with permission.


  1. Good tip about under filling the cupcakes. It's one no one ever tells you. Also, pastry cream is the best thing in the world.

  2. Pastry cream is evidence of intelligent design. You think a cow, a chicken, a sugarcane and an orchid would have come together on their own? In what universe?
    I want to live in that universe.