Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Go Bananas

It must be the most common baking dilemma: what to do with ripe bananas when their advanced state of maturity renders them un-appetizing at breakfast time. You have lots of options, for example if you are an inveterate smoothie maker, then peel the bananas, freeze them in small zip lock bags and then take them out as needed. You can also mash the bananas and temper their sweetness by mixing the banana mash with lovely unsweetened plain yoghurt. Banana bread is of course a fabulous way to use up those funky, rapidly darkening bananas, but I confess to a certain antipathy to banana bread, perhaps because it is so ubiquitous. So I made these muffins instead, and as evinced by the photos, you'll see that I lacked certain preparation materials! Most importantly, a large enough mixing bowl to blend all the ingredients together (it was a very large batch of banana muffins), but as necessity is the mother of invention I got round this slight wrinkle by using a wok. Yes, a wok. Most bakers out there would be horrified by the prospect of contamination from the garlicky-gingery-scented wok, but it worked out just fine and there was no residual waft from the muffins of a recent Thai Green Curry, which is just as well, otherwise I wouldn't be posting this little feature ;-)

Makes 12 jumbo muffins, or 24 standard muffins
  • 4 large, very ripe bananas - they should be blackened, squishy and rather unappealing
  • 500g plain flour
  • 150g butter, melted
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 125ml milk
  • 125ml sour cream - yoghurt will also work, or just use milk, I'm just a sour cream fan...
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch salt - up to 1/2 tsp if using unsalted butter, the salt will enhance the flavour of the bananas
  • 150g toasted walnuts (optional, of course)
Preheat the oven to 190ºC, and line 12 large muffin cups with baking parchment (as I did, roughly). Mash your bananas in a small bowl, set aside. Sift the dry ingredients in a large bowl (or wok!) and stir through to distribute the raising agents. Blend the eggs with the milk and sour cream, and create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, pouring all liquid ingredients in. Using a large spoon, fold through the wet ingredients to the dry, until the whole mix looks like a thick batter - usually between 12-15 folds will do it. Don't over-fold or the muffins will be tough. Add your walnuts if you're using them...bake for 30 minutes, they will double in size and look enormous so if you're not a greedy person, freeze some for future use


jasmine said...

The good thing (for me) about banana breads and muffins is that there seems to be an endless list of variations and combinations: nuts, berries, chocolate, caramel. Up until this year I've made a banana loaf every other or every third week...I'll probably start up again this autumn when the temps cool a bit.

Signe Johansen: said...

Hi Jasmine, this is true - banana bread is endlessly versatile, which is what's so wonderful about it. I just happen to have a particular penchant for muffins at the moment (plus I always see banana bread around shops and cafes in London, whereas it's rare to see banana muffins). It's exceptionally warm here so the baking is going to have to be rationed a little bit until we see some cooler weather - this being England, it shouldn't be too long until we see the rain! Feel free to share your recipes or variations on the ones I have...Signe x