Baked Sunday Mornings: Banana Cupcakes with Vanilla Pastry Cream

I have a soft spot for banana in baked goods. Banana cake, banana bread, banana pudding -- I love it all. So I was happy to try this week's Baked Sunday Mornings recipe, Banana Cupcakes with Vanilla Pastry Cream. The cupcake recipe is very similar but not quite identical to the Bananas Cake recipe from Baked Elements. They have the same ingredient list, but the cupcakes use all-purpose flour instead of cake flour, and they have a little less shortening, a little less buttermilk, and more bananas compared to the cake recipe. But I love the bananas cake -- either with chocolate frosting as written, or as I've improvised with cream cheese frosting, so I was pretty sure these cupcakes would be delicious.

The cupcakes are straightforward. You cream butter and shortening; add sugar and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy; add eggs and mashed bananas; and alternately add the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) and buttermilk. The recipe makes 24 cupcakes.

I was a little apprehensive about the pastry cream frosting. I have nothing against pastry cream and I love puddings and custards. But I've never used pastry cream to top a cupcake and I wasn't sure how it would keep its shape. (I made this chocolate cake from Proof Bakery shortly after the recipe was published in the Los Angeles Times and it was a bit of a disaster because of the thin consistency of the chocolate crémeux.)

The pastry cream recipe is easy. You add tempered egg yolks (whisked with sugar, cornstarch, and salt) to hot half and half and cook until thickened. My pastry cream thickened the instant I added the eggs back into the half and half. I added vanilla, put the pastry cream through a sieve, and chilled the it overnight before piping it onto the cupcakes. I thought I had a massive amount of pastry cream but I ran out with three cupcakes to go and had to leave them naked.
These cupcakes were bananas. And by that, I mean insanely delicious. The cupcake was moist and slightly sticky, which I don't mind with banana cake. The cupcakes tasted wonderful straight out of the refrigerator. And I honestly thought the best part was the pastry cream. It is so dang good, and it is perfect with the cupcake. The vanilla flavor of the cold pastry cream was as prominent as the banana flavor of the cupcake, and this cupcake reminded me a little of banana pudding. But the bottom line is that I couldn't stop eating them.

I don't think this cupcake is practical at all. The pastry cream gives them a short shelf life, and even though my pastry cream was relatively thick, I didn't think it was very attractive piped onto the cupcakes. But I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a cupcake this much.

Recipe: "Banana Cupcakes with Vanilla Pastry Cream" from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, recipe available here at Baked Sunday Mornings.

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The cupcakes were good! I wasn't a fan of frosting them with the pastry cream. It just didn't seem like the right thing to do. I really liked the flavour of the pastry cream but I could not wrap my head around using it as a frosting.
I could get behind a trifle of sorts with the pastry cream and cut up pieces of the cupcakes. Hmm... ��