Monday, 4 June 2012

Long live The Queen!!

All of the UK is draped in Union Jacks this weekend (yes, to me it's still the weekend, and happily will be for another day). While the rest of the world is toiling away at the salt mines, the Brits (and all us immigrants) are enjoying a four day weekend to celebrate our beloved Queen and her 60-year reign. And nothing says celebration like muffins for breakfast. I'm sure Her Majesty would approve.

I have this pet peeve of people throwing away food which is still edible. I guess it all has it's roots with my grandma. She keeps collecting everything, bits of chord, pieces of cloth (that she used to make quilts), plastic food containers... everything gets washed and re-used. This is probably a result of living through a war and knowing what's it's like to have a chronic shortage of everyday items. Although it might seem a bit silly at first glance, it actually makes perfect sense. We produce such an enormous amount of waste, and everybody should look into their habits more carefully, and try to reduce the waste they are producing. At least for me, planning my meals ahead has helped me reduce the amount of food I throw away. I always make a shopping list and only buy what I know I will be using. And there is the added challenge of making up the most bizarre meals at the end of the week to use up those odd bits and pieces which are left over. What to make of two pieces of bacon, some aubergine, a lime, some celery and wilted leaves of basil... Well, the point of this rant was that a while ago I ended up having a few bananas sitting on my counter, which were clearly past their prime. I didn't want to throw them away, so I mashed them up and froze, to give me a perfect excuse to try bananan bread at a later point (I later read that a lot of people freeze their over-ripened bananas whole, so no need for the mashing part). I decided banana bread muffins would be the perfect Jubilee holiday breakfast treat. 

I'm actually not a big fan of baking with bananas. I like them as a snack, or in a smoothie, but usually cakes with banana just don't do it for me. However, I decided to give the banana a chance, and hit the internet looking for the perfect banana bread recipe. I stumbled upon this blog called Quest for Delish, and simply because the writer claimed this is the best banana bread recipe she has ever found, I had to try it out. Also, the fact that it was the first google hit for 'banana bread muffins' might have something to do with it... I halved the recipe, although I used a bit more banana than the original recipe, as my frozen batch contained 1.5 bananas. I'm pretty sure using just one will work fine. Also, I threw in a bit of chopped pecans, as I think banana bread should have a bit of nuts in it as well. 

Banana bread muffins (makes 12):
125g flour
0.5tsp baking soda
0.5tsp salt
55g butter
100g caster sugar
1 egg
1.5 bananas
125ml soured cream
1tsp vanilla paste
a handful of pecans

The howto:
Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Mix flour with baking soda and salt. In another bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy with an electric whisk. Add egg and keep whisking until fluffy. Mix in banana, vanilla paste, soured cream and pecans. Gently fold in the flour. Divide into 12 muffin moulds, and bake for about 20 minutes. The original recipe says these can also be made into a loaf, but I'm a bit skeptical, as they turned out very soft and crumbly, I think it might be really hard to cut the loaf. But I might be wrong. Maybe the texture is a bit less crumbly with 1 banana (as in the original recipe) compared to my 1.5. Also, the bananas seemed quite damp coming out of the freezer, maybe using fresh bananas will change the consistency of the batter somewhat.

Each muffin contains 150 kcal (7g fat, 20g carbs of which 11g sugars and 2g protein).

The verdict:
Is this the best banana bread recipe ever? I honestly don't know as I have never made banana bread before. However, I do know that they are really good. As in really, really good. I think it might be a combination of using seriously over-ripe bananas (and lots and lots of banana), with the excessive amount of sugar in the recipe (yes, they are very sweet) and a perfect baking time which left them moist but still perfectly cooked. I could have eaten the whole batch in one go. No, I'm not kidding you. The tops had a nice crunch to them and the insides were sweet and moist and crumbly and yummy. The only modification I will do next time I make them is add more pecans, as I love the crunchy chewy bits. I tried the muffins with strawberry jam and whipped cream as well as with butter. Despite my current deep infatuation with whipped cream (that's one of the thing the Brits have down perfectly, I think British cream is better than Finnish), I think the combo of butter and banana bread worked better. Now I'm off for a run in a desperate hope to keep all those muffins, butter and cream from setting on my already rather wobbly bits. 

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