Monday, September 3, 2012

Banana Streusel Cupcakes


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

Ingredients:
Cupcake :
  • 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
Streusel Topping:
  • 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

Directions:
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.


22 comments:

  1. Pretty much anything that involves streusel is a major stress reliever and is a great thing to have on a break! These look amazing.

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  2. It's amazing what the time off does to get you excited about going back! I hope the school year starts off well for you. These muffins look like the perfect way to take a break!

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  3. You deserve a break my friend and nothing says relax like struesal :)

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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  4. I'm a sucker for streusel. These look great!

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  5. perfect brain break muffins! :) you sound like you need it and i think i need one or two of these!

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  6. They are like little mini banana breads. Perfect for when you don't want to consume an entire cake. Vicky from www.messforless.net

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  7. munching on these banana cupcakes is the perfect way to relax ;)
    i have made banana cakes with streusel topping a few times but not a cupcake version. these look even better than a cake!!!

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  8. such is the life of a student eh? Glad you manage to still figure in some time for tennis and kitchen therapy as I call it (:

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  9. These cupcakes look delicious and I hope your first day of school went well.
    I really enjoyed your post about Mother's day. I can see the special bond you have with your mother .... that is so wonderful.
    I have a very special bond with my daughter as well.
    Thank you for your lovely visit on my blog. I am your new follower. Looking forward to your posts.

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  10. I'll take these cupcakes over cannibalism anyday. ;) Hope you'll get into a new routine sooner than later with school starting up again!

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  11. What wonderful cupcakes! I love that streusel topping.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  12. I always remember my hectic life being a student... I never want to look back anymore. But, now being a parent, I'm also getting myself into another kind of hectic life :p

    These banana cupcakes look wonderful and I'm sure they will give you lots of energy to carry on your hectic life :D

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  13. Haha, well at least you are ready for it. War and peace, eh? I think that book would take me about 4 years to read it's so long! :p
    These look like the perfect brain food. Relax and bake is always my motto ;)

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  14. Thank you for commenting on my blog. Those cupcakes look delicious! I recently watched the War and Peace movie - the Russian version from 1968! It actually made me want to read the book.

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  15. I seriously love banana desserts. And you just made these infinitely better with the streusel!

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  16. Look at these cupcakes! They look incredible! Yum!

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  17. haha a modest proposal is amazing! i don't think you're the first person to take it seriously either :) mmm these look so good. banana streusel? why have i never thought of that? genius.

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  18. I am with you on learning being fatiguing - it really is hard work. Glad you took time out to make these scrumptious cakes - say the word "streusel" and I am there.

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  19. These look great. Good luck with your school year :).

    Emily

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  20. I love bananas and the desserts made with them! These little bites look so cute and delish!

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  21. Mmmmmm. Streusel...It's been on my mind for weeks.. This looks sooo good!

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