for the majority of my teens, sleeping was easily considered one of my top extracurricular activities. my study-abroad flatmates were actually selected based on the fact that we all filled out our questionnaires with the same sleeping preferences–go to bed early, wake up late–and during my high school days, my mother was forced to devise an elaborate (and frankly, inhumane) wake-up process that has caused lingering trauma. (you try not suffering permanent damage after waking up every morning to someone flicking on your lights, and then with a speed usually reserved for vampires, simultaneously blasting the radio, ripping off your sheets, tickling your feet, all while bellowing your name.)
this being said, my decision to attend culinary school for a baking and pastry arts degree came as rather shocking news to those who were acquainted with my sleeping patterns. the ungodly hours of baking professionals are no secret. the school recruiter asked me, as did almost everyone else i told, “are you an early-riser?” after a good laugh and recounting of my mother’s antics (see above), we determined that seeing as how there are few jobs that will lend to a sleep schedule to my liking, save mattress-tester or professional sleep-study subject, waking up at 4 a.m. doesn’t seem that much worse than 7 a.m. (ok, it is… but i was trying to gain admittance.)
fast-forward four incredibly intense months of schooling on top of my 9 to 5 job, and you will find that it had been a very, very long time since i had truly engaged in my most favorite of pastimes. essentially, i spent those 16 weeks as a member of the living dead. my body was covered in bruises from bumping half-unconsciously into walls and filing cabinets, my stomach lining had a gaping hole from the vast quantities of coffee i had ingested, and i seemed to have developed permanent circles under my eyes to the point where i felt confident that if i joined a football team, i would not have had to bother with blacking out my cheeks. there were moments when i worried that the overzealous might consider picking up one of the many “how to survive a zombie apocalypse” books flooding the shelves in order to protect themselves when i ambled by. please note that moaning “brainzzz” is only funny to others when they aren’t half-sure you might be serious.
during these long months of sleep deprivation, i had often felt that i deserved luxuries that i normally (when fully functioning) wouldn’t allow myself. (the starbucks barista who now refers to me as “her friend” can vouch for me on this one.) therefore, i felt no moral compunction and needed very little self-convincing when i decided that these cupcakes were quite clearly more of an icing-topped muffin than an actual cupcake…breakfast, definitely not dessert…calorie-free as opposed to adding new dimension to my growing backside…the addition of bananas was all the justification that i needed.
this recipe comes from martha stewart’s cupcake cookbook and produces a cupcake so mind-blowingly delicious that i made some pretty inappropriate sounds when inhaling them. because it calls for cake flour and there is more sifting than seems sane, the end product will be super fluffy and moist (and i am serious when i say moan-inducing…though you should be careful about this if people are already concerned you might be a member of the undead as you may just be reinforcing their convictions). the cupcake is then paired with a honey-cinnamon frosting that is truly sensational.
roasted banana cupcakes from martha stewart’s cupcakes
what you’ll need (for the cake):
3 ripe bananas (plus 1 or 2 more for garnish should you feel fancy)
2 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temp.
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. preheat oven to 400 degrees f and line standard muffin tins with paper liners. place 3 whole unpeeled bananas on a baking sheet and roast for 15 mins.
2. while these are roasting, sift together cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. (cake flour has a high starch content, so make sure you don’t skip the sifting. i know, i know, but it will be worth it.)
3. remove your now blackened, roasted bananas from the oven and let them cool before peeling. unless you enjoy burning your fingers or need to build up heat tolerance, in which case, knock yourself out. reduce the oven temp to 350.
add the peeled, roasted bananas and try not to gag. yeh, i think we can all agree on what this reminds us of… alright, that being said, ahem, beat to combine.
4. add the flour mixture and sour cream, alternating back and forth. you will do three flour batches, alternating with two sour cream batches. beat until just combined after each addition. if you beat too long, your cake will lose its fluff. beat in vanilla.
5. in a separate bowl, whip your egg whites to soft peaks with a mixer on medium speed.
fold in 1/3 of whites into batter to lighten. this basically means that you will sacrifice some of your whites so that your dense batter won’t snuff it all out. gently fold in the remaining whites in two batches.
6. divide the batter evenly among the lined cups. they should be about 3/4 full. bake for about 20 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. make sure you rotate your tins once half way through. once baked, transfer the tins to a wire rack to cool.
the cupcakes can be stored in air-tight containers at room temp up to 3 days, or frozen up to 2 months.
now for the honey-cinnamon frosting:
what you’ll need:
2.5 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
2 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1. on med speed, beat all ingredients until smooth.
2. wipe off your brow, whew, that was tough.
use immediately or refrigerate up to 5 days in an air-tight container. if you refrigerate, make sure you bring it back to room temp and beat it smooth before using.
they can also conveniently be made baby tiny size as a nice post-brain snack.