Pastry chef Lei Shishak, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, worked at Michael Mina’s Stonehill Tavern for almost four years before opening her own Sugar Blossom Bake Shop in San Clemente. Landing in Orange County’s quintessential beach town was no accident—she felt the pull of the California coastline while still living on the East Coast. Shishak has a new book, “Beach House Baking” (Skyhorse Publishing, $25), that evokes a casual California beach vibe, and offers tropical flavor twists she gives many of the simple recipes for baked goods and frozen treats.
I made the following recipe in a 9-inch round, 2-inch deep cake pan lined on the bottom with parchment instead of as cupcakes. It baked about 40 minutes. I loved the touch of honey in the frosting, and appreciated Shishak’s noting that baking a single cake is possible with any of her cupcake recipes—that kind of laid-back flexibility, without sacrificing results, is exactly what “Beach House Baking” is all about.
Banana Pecan Cupcakes With Honey Buttercream
These cupcakes are best made with very ripe bananas so plan ahead and place yellow bananas in a brown paper bag for a few days before making this recipe. When you open the bag, get ready to head to Central America. You can find banana farms everywhere in Central America, a destination for many who long for the relaxed surfer lifestyle. In the southwest corner of Nicaragua lies the off-the-grid surfer haven of Popoyo. Three hours from Managua, Popoyo is the hidden gem of this country. Here you will find uncrowded beaches, epic surf breaks, and spearfishing hotspots. If you’re looking for a trip that will leave you relaxed, sunburnt, exhilarated, and achy, Popoyo is the place to go.—Lei Shishak
¾ cup (about 2 medium) very ripe bananas
1 ½ cups cake or all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¾ cup buttermilk
½ cup pecans, chopped into small pieces
Honey Buttercream, recipe follows
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with 14 liners.
In small bowl, mash bananas with fork; set aside. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed about 3 minutes, until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and mix 1 minute. Scrape bowl well. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning with buttermilk and ending with flour. Fold in bananas and pecans.
With spoon or 2-ounce ice cream scoop, fill liners to just below rim. Bake in center of oven 15 to 17 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans, then remove and cool completely before frosting.
3 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup clover honey
¼ cup sour cream
In mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat all ingredients on low speed for 1 minute. Increase speed to medium and beat 2 to 3 more minutes, until smooth.