Hummingbird Bakery Banana and Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe (Adapted for High-Altitude)

May 15, 2012

"Bananas work so well when used in baking, as they become almost caramel-like when they cook. Chocolate Frosting works particularly well with these [cupcakes]."
- The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook




For the Banana Cake Base:
(makes 12 - 14 cupcakes)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • a scant 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • a pinch of salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 ripe banana, peeled and mashed
  • 1 1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, grated with a cheese grater into shavings

For the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
(enough for 12 - 14 cupcakes)
  • 2 1/3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk



The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook's Chocolate Banana Cupcakes Recipe
(Adjusted for a high-altitude environment of approximately 5,000 ft)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 (F); for sea-level, preheat the oven to 325 (F).

  2. Put 1 cup flour, a scant 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ginger, a 5 tablespoons butter, and a pinch of salt in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.

  3. Slowly pour 1/2 cup milk into the flour mixture, beating well until all the ingredients are well mixed.

  4. Add 2 eggs and beat well, scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

  5. Stir in 1 mashed banana by hand with a rubber spatula until evenly dispersed.

  6. Spoon the batter into paper cases in your muffin tin until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 - 24 minutes, or until light golden and the cake bounces back when touched.

  7. Let the cupcakes cool slightly in the pan before turning out into a wire rack to cool completely. When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the Chocolate Frosting (recipe follows) on top and finish with chocolate shavings.


The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook's Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe
(For All Altitudes)
  1. Beat 2 1/3 cups confectioners' sugar, 6 1/2 tablespoons butter, and 1/3 cup cocoa powder together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.

  2. Turn the mixer down to a slow speed, and add 2 tablespoons milk to the butter mixture a couple of teaspoons at a time.

  3. Once all the milk has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy (at least 5 minutes).


Tips & Addendums

  • The riper your banana, the more intense the banana flavor of the cupcake will be. Be sure to use a banana that has an incredibly black and spotty skin -- the kind of banana that has to be thrown away a day or two later. If you have bananas at this stage but no time to bake these cupcakes now, Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar recommends freezing them to preserve their flavor. My boyfriend says that brewers like to freeze bananas so that the oils from the banana skin leech out and infuse the inner banana fruit with more flavor. I have no idea if this is actually true, but anecdotally, I will agree that our frozen bananas seem more flavorful.

  • When making the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, do not substitute unsweetened cocoa powder with sweetened cocoa powder; doing so will make the frosting's chocolate flavor less intense!

  • All spoon measurements are level and unsifted, unless otherwise specified. To level the ingredients, take the back of a knife and run it across the top of the measuring cup until the excess ingredients are scraped off.

  • Liquid and dry measuring cups are different; please make sure you use the appropriate measuring cup for each ingredient.

  • After adding the milk and eggs to the flour mixture, don't overbeat as this will overwork the flour and make the cake dense -- simply beat until the milk and eggs have just been incorporated. In my opinion, making sure you don't overbeat the batter is one of the hardest parts about baking.

  • I like to use a 1 tablespoon-sized cookie scoop to divide the cupcake batter evenly between cupcake cases. For this recipe, I put 2 tablespoons of cupcake batter in each case.

  • Do not open your oven until at least the minimum time recommended has passed. Too much cold air coming from a frequently opened oven door causes irregular oven temperatures, which then affect the baking process.

  • According to the Hummingbird Bakery Blog, bake time for these cupcakes can vary from batch to batch depending on the banana's ripeness. Riper bananas will be moister and have a higher sugar content; this affects how long the cake takes to bake. Only take the cupcakes out of the oven when a skewer inserted in the middle of each cake can be removed cleanly. If using a frozen banana, I would even suggest increasing the oven temperature to 400 (F) at high-altitude since the banana will have absorbed a lot of moisture during the freezing process. I suggest baking just one cupcake for a trial run; this will help you get a better idea of the baking time appropriate for your batter. Just be sure to make sure the cupcake is cooled completely before deciding on the appropriate temperature; if the cupcake sponge doesn't sink in when it's cooled, you're good to go!

  • Specifically for the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting: the longer you beat the frosting, the fluffier and lighter it becomes. I recommend a beating time of at least 5 minutes.

  • Again, to ensure consistency, I like to use a 1 tablespoon-sized cookie scoop to measure out 1 tablespoon of frosting for each cupcake.

  • Frost your cupcakes immediately after you have made the frosting. If you let the frosting sit out too long, it will start to crust and you will have a hard time frosting your cupcakes. However, make sure your cupcakes are cooled completely before frosting, or they will get soggy.



  1. Hi! We just moved to Denver and are still figuring out how to bake here. I stumbled across your recipe while searching for Banana Cupcakes High Altitude and made these today. They worked perfectly and were super delicious!

    Thank you! Consider yourself bookmarked!

  2. It is such an interesting thing having this post of yours. I was interested with the topic as well as the flow of the story. Keep up doing this. legal highs

  3. Something I learned from your recipe (by accident). Don't use the convection setting. Not sure if this is a baking tip or a high altitude tip (I live suburbia Denver at 6,000 ft), but the cupcakes turned out better when I didn't use convection at all for the second batch I made. Thank you for making baking easier here!


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