B. A-N A-N A-S.
OK so now that I’ve got my Gwen Stefani moment out of the way…
It all started moribundly enough. There they were, four bananas looking abandoned and forlorn at the end of the workday (we get fruit on Thursdays – yay for not getting scurvy!) and with a long weekend coming up I worried that they would become sad and brown and not fulfill their true destiny (i.e. be turned into cake). So there’s banana bread, or banana muffins… but those are kind of… meh. They are awesome in their own right but I was thinking of doing something light and airy and beautiful, which is practically the dictionary definition for Cupcakes, right?
So off I tootled with the four bananas and when I got home I did a bit of a scavenge and found, amongst other things, frozen buttermilk (it was one of those “thought it was cream” purchases and I panicked and threw it in the freezer) and the dregs of a batch of cinnamon sugar. They seemed like they would make good bedfellows so I got out my trusty purple notepad and started working on the formulation. Snaps to Martha Stewart and a bunch of others for providing a basis for me to tweak away (I almost typed twerk!) to my heart’s content.
So the thing is, I am the biggest nerd. I can do maths in my head – most of the time. In this particular case, I carefully formulated my cupcakes to yield 12, just enough to distribute at tea-time. I’m still not sure where I went wrong but by the end of the evening I had 30 cupcakes staring back at me… which is perfectly ok by me, a very happy accident – cos they were AWESOME!!
If these were any lighter, they would have floated right up off the kitchen counter. They were at that exact perfect intersection of light, moist and flavoursome – the little bit of cinnamon really brought out the best of the banana. It was like the triple point of water. But the triple point of cupcake:
So anyway, the thing is these cupcakes are the best I’ve ever churned out of my kitchen… and that’s before I even get to the icing.
Admission: I don’t really even like buttercream that much. But add a bit of buttermilk (a but of bittermilk? tongue-twister!) and it transforms into the lightest, fluffiest cupcake embellishment EVAHHHHH. Plus it counteracts that tooth-achy sweetness that buttercream often has. I’ll never make cream-cheese icing again. I may never even make cupcakes again, and just pipe out tall towers of this icing of the gods instead.
So. 30 cupcakes happen like this:
3 cups cake flour
1.5 teaspoons baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
250g soft butter
1.5 cups brown sugar (I use Demerara)
3 large eggs, room temperature
4 large ripe bananas, mashed thoroughly to within an inch of their lives
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
Cinnamon sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 180ºC. Like, duh.
Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together. Mix the mashed banana and buttermilk together.
Cream the butter and sugar until really light and fluffy – it should be the texture of a mousse. Make like Michael Jackson and Beat It (BEAT IT! beat it. BEAT IT! beat it. JUST BEAT IT).
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between addition. Beat in the vanilla essence. (BEAT IIIT! YOW!! *high kick, rude crotch maneouvre*). I used a stand mixer for this part and had it running for about 20 minutes total, so it was really light. Quite literally a lighter shade of pale.
Add 1/3rd of the dry mix to the butter/egg “mousse” and fold in gently with a spatula. Add 1/3rd banana/buttermilk and fold in, and keep alternating wet and dry til all is folded in. Every so gently. Gently like it contains a sleeping baby which you do not wish to wake up.
Scoop into paper cases (half-full), sprinkle a little cinnamon sugar over the top (optional – purely the result of my cupboard-foraging), and bake for 20 minutes.
Approx. 100g butter, soft and yielding
Approx. 300g icing sugar, sifted
Approx. 50ml buttermilk
Beat butter and sugar together with a wooden spoon to form a very thick pasty stodgy icing; use a stand mixer or electric beater to beat in the buttermilk and leave it running until very light colour and fluffy texture that is soft but still possible to pipe. Embellish your cooled cupcakes and sift a little ground cinnamon over the tops for (this word gives away my age) Pizzazz.
This cupcake topped with the buttermilk icing is absolutely synergistic. It’s elevated to a higher state of cupcakery. We should all bow down and chant to this cupcake. It’s so good it’ll give you a smile wide enough to fit a banana sideways…
PS: Don’t you just love Adam Liaw?