Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Banana Cupcakes

Well, I did say I wanted to bake with bananas again.  I didn't think it would be quite this soon though.  Last week one of the lovely ladies I worked with at Markinch asked me if I would bake 24 cupcakes for her.  She quite liked the idea of having them be banana flavoured and with only a little bit of icing.  Obviously I said yes.  I love baking for other people.

I immediately settled on making a banana icing, or buttercream, for the cakes because I knew I could use milkshake powder to flavour it.  It worked so well for the strawberry buttercream after all.  And of course, I was asked to make them banana flavoured so in that case I just had to find a recipe that looked good.  I trawled through many and saw plenty of interesting combinations.  I disregarded all the ones used chocolate, as I wasn't asked for that.  A number included cinnamon, stating that it is an amazing pairing and it certainly sounded interesting but I didn't know if that would be appreciated so I decided to squirrel that idea away for another day.  In the end, I settled on a recipe from one of my cookbooks that I've not really used before.  It's actually for banoffee cupcakes, rather than straight up banana but the cake part contained banana with no extra spices and using brown sugar and melted but to add a slight toffee flavour to the bake seemed like a lovely thing to do.  So I did.

This bake doubled up really easily and I was able to divide it pretty evenly amongst my cases so I got very equal looking cupcakes.  I've found a good, secondary use for my measuring cups.  The 1/4 cup dealt out the perfect amount of mixture for each cake.  I got special yellow cases to go with the cakes and also decided to buy bananas sweets to sit on top of the little swirls of buttercream for a bit of extra decoration.  It's a shame I didn't check my packet to see exactly how many I had.  There were only twenty bananas in the bag, so I was four short!  Consequently I ended up cutting them in half lengthways and having skinny bananas on top of each cake instead.  Ah well, if that's the only thing I can consider going wrong, I can't really complain.  

My only other gripe is that the shop I usually buy my cardboard cake boxes from doesn't seem to sell them any more!  I went to town specifically to get some since it would make the cakes easier to transport only to find there were none.  I was so disappointed.  I did have some left, but only one 12 box so the rest ended up divided between two 6 boxes.  They are also all different patterns so it makes me feel like they should have different types of cake in each one.  I'm going to have to see if I can get more on eBay.  They were just such great prices at Home Bargains!  It's such a shame they aren't there any more.

So, taste?  Well, I made an extra cake for the fiancĂ© to try and since his sister was over as well, she had half of it.  My main fear was that the banana in the cakes would not be very noticeable since there was only two bananas used in a batch of 24 cakes.  It is there, if subtle.  But that's okay.  They were clearly banana cupcakes and they said the subtleness worked with the buttercream because it might have been too overpowering otherwise.  They also said the cakes were nice and sweet.  The lovely lady that ordered them was very complimentary of their appearance when she picked them up today.  Hopefully they go down well at her party.  I will update when I get feedback from her.

Recipe - makes 24

Cakes - adapted from Good Housekeeping: Baking Book
  • 200g/7oz butter
  • 350g/12oz self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 300g/10oz light brown sugar
  • 300g/10oz banana (about 2 bananas)
  • 5 large eggs (or 6 medium)
  • 150ml/5fl.oz buttermilk
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5 and line two 12 hole muffin trays with 24 muffin cases.
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and then set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Put the flour, bicarbonate of soda and sugar into a large bowl and mix together.
  4. Mash the bananas in a small bowl using a fork.
  5. Add the buttermilk and eggs to the melted butter and beat together until combined.
  6. Pour the butter mixture, along with the mashed banana, into the dry ingredients and beat together until just combined.
  7. Divide the mixture amongst the cases and then bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until cakes are risen and springy and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  8. Leave to cool in their tins for five minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
Banana Buttercream:
  • 115g/4oz butter
  • 225g/8oz icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 3 tbsp banana milkshake powder
  • Yellow food colouring (optional)
  • 24 banana sweets (I used Sainsbury's Foam Bananas)
  1. Put the butter in a bowl and beat until creamy.
  2. Sift in the icing sugar and beat until the buttercream is fluffy.
  3. Add the milk and milkshake powder, plus a couple of drops of colouring if using, and beat until smooth.
  4. Put into a piping bag fitted with a large, round nozzle and pipe small swirls of buttercream in the middle of each cake.
  5. Top with a banana sweet.

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