Pastry Cream is Absolutely Underused and Unduly Ignored. This richer, sexier, silkier French cousin to good old American pudding deserves another look. In our opinion, there are few things better than a good pastry cream for slathering onto single-layer cakes or little cupcakes, or as a base for a fruit tart. Lush and fragrant, we think it makes the banana cake in this recipe shine. Its homey taste and upscale finish turn an ordinary cupcake into something special.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a large bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together on medium speed until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, add the eggs, and beat until just combined. Scrape down the bowl again and add the bananas. Beat until just combined. Turn the mixer to low. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.
Fill the cupcake liners about three-quarters full.
Set a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl.
In a medium saucepan, bring the half-and-half to a simmer and keep warm.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt together until the mixture is pale, about 1 minute. Whisk half of the warm half-and-half into the egg yolk mixture, then pour that mixture into the remaining half-and-half in the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla. Strain the pastry cream through the sieve and press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Put in the refrigerator for about 1 hour, or until chilled.
There are many ways to frost a cupcake. If you have a pastry bag, simply fit the bag with the largest tip, fill the bag with the pastry cream, and pipe out enough pastry cream to cover each cupcake. If you do not have a pastry bag, use an ice cream scoop with a release mechanism to scoop the pastry cream and dispense it onto the top of the cupcake. You can also use an offset spatula to frost the cupcakes. Top with a single slice of fresh banana or a dried banana chip.
Fresh banana slices or dried banana chips
© 2008 All rights reserved. Published by Abrams Books.