Thursday, 8 November 2012

Banana breakfast muffins

I constantly keep doing this. I swear in the morning I won't have anything sweet that day. And it always starts innocently with a chocolate after lunch, or some biscuits with tea. Not that I would ever buy any dessert chocolates or tea biscuits, but today when we got off the bus coming to work in the morning we were offered chocolates because it was "travel to work in an environmentally friendly way" day, and in the afternoon we had an afternoon with people from all across our department giving talks with a tea and biscuit break in between. Then I snack on some nuts and dried fruits in the afternoon because I'm so bored at work. And I keep silencing that little voice in the back of my head saying I shouldn't be eating this. After all nuts and fruits are healthy, right? Then I come home, and for some strange reason a big handful of dates or sultanas just fly into my mouth. So I have no chance but to eat them. I mean, they just viciously attacked me. Sometimes I'm so desperate that I go to my baking ingredient stash and eat a few candy melts or some caramel chunks. And once again, the day which started healthily with an omelette for breakfast and a salad for lunch ends up with a thousand calories more in my food diary than was intended. Are there any self help books for developing some self control? Something along the lines of Self Control for Dummies?

Today was one more of those days. When I came home from the gym, I was attacked by a bag of dried dates. And then there was the problem of those two over-ripe bananas sitting on my kitchen counter. They would not last long, so something had to be done. And that something was of course hitting my Pinterest boards as I knew I had pinned several recipes for banana bread and muffins. After much pondering, I settled on a recipe for Vegan Banana Muffins from Minimalist Baker. And again, I fell deeper into the depths of self deception, convincing myself this recipe is almost health food. I mean it has no added fat and very little sugar. Healthy, right? And replacing the white flour with rye and whole wheat makes it almost acceptable to eat the whole batch in one sitting? Well, health food or not, those bananas had to be used in some way, and this seemed like a decent enough way to help them find the reason for their existence. I made a few changes to the recipe, replacing the flax egg with a regular egg, excluding the butter and replacing the white flour with half rye flour and half whole wheat. I also doubled the recipe to make 4 big muffins as I had two bananas that needed to be used up asap.

Banana muffins from Minimalist baker (makes 4 big muffins):
1/2 cup rye flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda (I didn't have any soda so I used baking powder)
pinch of salt
2 ripe bananas
3 tbsp dark muscovado sugar (the original recipe had 3 tbsp sugar for two muffins, but I reduced it a bit)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla paste
4-5 big pieces of crystallised ginger
about 10 pecan nuts, coarsely chopped, for topping

The howto:
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C. Use a fork to mash the banana, and mix in baking powder, salt and sugar. I used a fork to mix. Then mix in the eggs, ginger and vanilla paste, I gave them a good swirl with the fork. Last, work in the flour. The batter was still easy to mix with the fork even after adding all the flour. Pour into single serving ramekins or big muffin moulds, and top with the coarsely chopped nuts. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

The verdict:
I have never been a big fan of banana bread. At least not until I made this chocolate and banana bread, which I pretty much ate in one day. Every time I passed by the bread, sitting there all innocent on the kitchen counter, I couldn't help but to have a slice. And another. And another. It was just so moist and soft and decadent. And with some butter on top... oh that was good. That also encouraged me to try some other banana recipes, despite my prejudice.

This recipe does bring out the taste of banana. I was first thinking of adding some cinnamon, cardamom or dried ginger, but I'm glad I didn't. I did add some finely chopped crystallised ginger though, as I have a bit of an addiction to it right now. Chocolate chips would also be a great addition.

The only thing I will do differently next time I'm baking these muffins is I wouldn't bake them in my rose cake moulds, instead i would make them in ramekins as was done in the original recipe so that you would get that beautifully risen domed top of the muffins up on top. I really can't figure out what to bake in the rose moulds, it would have to be something that doesn't rise too much so that you would get a flat bottom to your rose cakes. I'll have to experiment, and I'll get back to you.

I'm really surprised how high the muffins rose in the oven. I probably measured my baking powder a bit on the generous side, but I think that was necessary because I was using rye and whole wheat flour, which don't naturally result in light or fluffy muffins. But I actually think the texture of these muffins was spot on, not too fluffy, but still light and moist. Of course with rye flour, you will always get a somewhat more dense texture compared to all white flour, but I like the almost nutty flavour it brings. And these muffins actually didn't taste healthy, they tasted really good. These muffins were perfect for breakfast, they are on the large side but at least you are not left hungry. And they are perfect to take along and enjoy while sifting through your morning emails at work.


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