Learning is fatiguing. Just as hard manual labour puts a strain on the body, active learning tires the brain. The school year had definitely worn me out, but after a few weeks of rest, I had felt ready to begin my studies again.
Lately, I’ve been exercising my mental capabilities to the point of exhaustion. After a month of fumbling with different activities, I’ve fallen into a routine (a routine which is about to be disrupted with the beginning of the new school year tomorrow). After a mild tennis workout in the morning, I return home, take a shower, and eat lunch. Then begins a day of reading. If I’m not reading a psychology book, then I am studying biology or ploughing through Tolstoy’s War and Peace. If I’m not completing my summer reading for English class, then I am studiously working my way through an SAT Literature prep book.
It’s a hard life, but someone’s got to live it.
On one occasion, I had been reading and studying for nearly four hours. I felt restless and my mind was groggy. I was reading the words on the pages in front of me, yet, I couldn’t consciously absorb any of the material. As my eyes scanned the page, I became rather alert at the last paragraph of one of the examples:
“...I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout...”
Wait, WHAT? There was no way that the ever so politically correct College Board would endorse cannibalism; there had to be an explanation. I quickly circled my answers to the multiple-choice questions and read the explanation.
It turns out that the excerpt was from A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift (1729) which was written during a time of famine in Ireland. Swift was satirically criticizing society “with the aim toward reform”.
Well, then. That makes a whole lot more sense. Obviously, I needed to take a break and let my mind rest. That’s where these Banana Streusel Cupcakes come in. They’re dense and rich, with a subtle banana-y taste that kind of creeps up on your taste buds. The streusel topping has pretty much become a cult favourite at our house, so sprinkling it atop these banana cupcakes was a no-brainer. If you’re as into streusel as I am, feel free to double the topping recipe.
Click below for the recipe.
Banana Streusel Cupcakes
Source: I developed this recipe myself
Yield: 12 medium cupcakes
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- ¾ cup mashed banana
- ¼ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- ½ cup plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour
Streusel Topping: In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Add melted butter and whisk until combined. Fold in flour until absorbed.
Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper or foil liners.In a medium bowl, sift flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt.
In the bowl of an electric stand-mixer, beat butter and sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and mix until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add dry ingredients and mashed banana in three alternating additions, beating well between additions. Divide the batter into the muffin tin.
Bake in the center of the oven for about 20-23 minutes, until springy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool slightly in the muffin tin, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Unfrosted cupcakes can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days, or frozen for up to a month.