Banana Nut Muffins

A lot of muffins are being baked (and devoured even before they cool) in the Lekhni household recently.  There were the oatmeal cookies I baked a few weeks ago (mostly for the neighbors) but otherwise, it has been muffins all the way.  A big reason for this is that they are so easy to make.

Muffins are the most forgiving of baked goods. They are easygoing and demand nothing from the baker – no skill/ experience, and no specialized bakeware. Unlike their popular cousins, cupcakes, the humble muffins  don’t even require a hand mixer.  Neither do you need special bundt pans or loaf pans – while having a muffin pan is great, you can just as easily use a few cups or ramekins (in fact, that’s the route to go if you only want to make 3-4 muffins). All you really need (if your recipe uses eggs) is a fork or a spoon.  Plus, muffins look really good and make great snacks for breakfast, or after work, or as a travel snack if you are planning a weekend trip to the zoo. Ideal if you are a novice baker, or if you have a toddler grabbing your arm insistently  because she doesn’t want you in the kitchen.

Now, baking is a little less forgiving than cooking. Forgot to add the tamarind paste in rasam (even though that is step 2 after Boil the water) and the rasam is already done? No problem, just stir in the tamarind paste and boil some more (or boil the tamarind paste separately in a little water and mix).  The thing with cooking is, no single ingredient is usually so integral to the dish that it cannot be added later.  But with baking, if you forget something, say, that half teaspoon of baking soda, the dish is likely ruined. So it’s best to mentally run through a checklist of ingredients just after you finish mixing or at least before you put the dish in the oven, in case you’ve forgotten something (quite likely if that toddler has now graduated to gnawing on your arm).

One of my current favorites  is the humble banana nut muffin (which can just easily be just a plain banana muffin).  In my house, these usually get devoured while still warm from the oven, and are a great way to use up over-ripe bananas. (Insert joke here about going bananas, going nuts etc). They use whole wheat flour (partly) and brown sugar, which helps me feel less guilty at my toddler eating them.

banana nut muffins

BANANA NUT MUFFINS

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (toasted or raw) (optional)
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar  (you can use 3/4 cup if you like less sugar, or 3/4 cup sugar and a tablespoon of honey)
  • 1 egg, beaten, or 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda  (or 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour or atta
  • Milk/ Buttermilk/ water for mixing – maybe 1/4 cup.

Makes 12 muffins.

Method

Preheat the oven to 350°F.   Mix all the dry ingredients together in one bowl i.e.  the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  You can also add the chopped walnuts to this mixture.

Melt the butter in the microwave for 2 minutes or until completely melted.  You can melt it on the stove top if you prefer.   Let it cool down.  Then, mix all the wet ingredients together, i.e. the butter, egg, bananas and vanilla.

Now, mix the dry and wet ingredients together.  DO NOT OVERMIX.  This is the only thing to remember in baking muffins.  Over-mixing results in hard muffins.

Ideally, use a flat, wide spoon like a spatula to mix and do not make than, say 7-8 turns of the spatula.  Now, I find that invariably, the wet mixture is barely adequate to make a batter.  To avoid over-mixing, I like to add some milk or buttermilk to make the mixing easier.  You can also use water.  Add only just enough so that the flour is all covered in liquid.

Pour this into a muffin pan (or cups or whatever you are using). Bake for at least 25 minutes. You can leave it on a little more if you want the crust to become a little darker brown, instead of golden brown. Depending on your oven and baking pan (glass takes longer, metal less), it can take anywhere between 25 to 35 minutes to bake.   But the test of baking is the old toothpick trick – if a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, your muffins are done.  Take them out and cool them.  Remember, they will turn slightly browner as they cool.

They will easily last 1-2 days at room temperature – I keep them in glass storage containers lightly covered with lids.  If you want your muffins to last longer, the best thing is to freeze them, either in said glass containers or ziploc bags, and thaw them in the microwave individually as needed.  A couple of minutes in the microwave is all they usually need (and 2 day old muffins too can be freshened up with 15 seconds in the microwave).

Just don’t be surprised if your usually finicky toddler walks off with a still-warm muffin in her hand.

 

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10 Comments

  1. Nice! I have a bunch of nicely rotting bananas – I think I will try them in this recipe! I read somewhere that a good way to use up over-ripe bananas is to freeze them almost solid, and then whip the life out of them in a food processor. At some stage the banana develops the consistency and taste of ice cream – without any of the guilt! I haven’t tried that as yet, but I will try your recipe first.

    Hope the little one is doing well.

  2. Those banana nut muffins look good, I know a 2.5 yr old who’d love those. Muffins are forgiving, but I dont find myself baking too much. Lack of AP flour in the pantry may be blamed for that. Gotto fix pronto. Been meaning to make blueberry banana muffins for a while now.

    • I’ve never tried Blueberry banana; sounds like a great combo. The strawberry banana muffins I’ve made have been big hits though, while the blueberry muffins have had mixed success with the 2 year old, so maybe blueberry banana might be better received :) (I shudder to think about how much more particular she is going to get as she grows older).

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