Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about style. One of the questions I always ask the pastry chefs I interview is “what’s your approach to pastry,” which is another way of asking “what’s your style?” Well, these banana whoopie pies with lemon cream cheese frosting? They’re my style.
Whoopie pies aren’t fancy – unlike cupcakes, they can’t be topped with fondant hearts or elaborate swirls of frosting. They’re unassuming, simple – even a little homely. And yet you can’t deny the power of a great whoopie pie. This one, with two sweet, fragrant banana cake rounds that sandwich a sweet, tart filling, speaks to the great satisfaction one can take in simple things. The flavor of the bananas really sings through the cake, and is tempered by the fresh bite of the homemade lemon curd in the filling.
I was even more pleased with this recipe, because I actually adapted it from a recipe in Rose’s Heavenly Cakes for a banana cake. Rather than using someone else’s recipe, I wanted to see if i could make my own modifications and have it actually work. And I’m happy to say that it did. Slightly decreasing the oil and upping the flour amount to mimic that of another whoopie pie recipe meant that the batter held together well enough when scooped out on the baking sheet, and baked into light and fluffy rounds.
Simple, unassuming, great tasting – I think that’s my pastry style. So what’s your pastry style? Do you go for the fancy French pastries? The down-home desserts from the south? Or do you prefer your baked goods to be cute and whimsical?
Banana whoopie pies with lemon cream cheese filling
Adapted from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes, By Rose Levy Beranbaum
Makes approximately 8 large (16 small) whoopie pies
Note: I made these using a regular sized ice cream scoop (equal to 1/4 cup) to portion the cake batter, which made enormous whoopie pies (like, 4-5 inches across). When I make these again, I will make them half the size – so I’ll either use a small ice cream scoop with a 2 tbsp capacity, or use an actual tablespoon to pour 2 tbsp worth of batter for each cake round. I recommend that you make them the smaller size, unless you have a penchant for serving enormous desserts.
For the banana whoopie pies:
2 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
Two large, very ripe bananas (1 cup)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup safflower or canola oil
Lemon cream cheese frosting (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In a food processor, combine the banana and sour cream, pulsing until smooth and scraping down the sides as needed. Add the eggs and vanilla and process until smooth, about 10 seconds.
In the bowl of a stand mixture fitted with a whisk attachment, combine the banana mixture and sugar and mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Gradually add the oil, mixing until combined. Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture and beat on low for 2 minutes.
Use an ice cream scoop or a tablespoon to scoop the batter onto each baking sheet, leaving two inches between each pie. Like I said above, I would use 2 tbsp of batter per cake mound. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the cakes spring back when touched in the center. Remove to a rack and let cool completely.
Note: you will need to bake the whoopie pies in 3-4 batches, but you can re-use the parchment paper. Once you’re done with the first batch let the baking sheet and parchment paper cool off, and then scoop more batter onto the parchment.
To assemble the pies, spoon two or three spoonfuls of icing onto the back of one cake round. Top with another cake round. Repeat with remaining cake mounds. Serve dusted with powdered sugar.
For the lemon cream cheese frosting
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup lemon curd, at room temperature (recipe follows)
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the lemon curd and beat until combined. Add the powdered sugar and beat until creamy.
For the lemon curd
Makes approximately 1 cup
4 large egg yolks
1/2 + 2 tbs sugar
3 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 2 and 1/2 lemons)
4 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tps lemon zest
In a heavy, non reactive saucepan, beat yolks and sugar until well blended. Stir in all other ingredients. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring until thickened (it will thickly coat the back of a spoon, but will still be pourable). Do not allow to boil, or it will curdle (if it begins to steam, remove from heat and stir vigorously until it cools down). When thickened, strain into a clean bowl, pushing through strainer with the back of a spoon. Let cool and then chill in the refrigerator.