October 13, 2008

I used to hate bananas. Actually, I sort of still hate bananas. I like banana sliced in some yogurt, or in a pancake, or in an oatmeal chocolate-chip cookie from Vegan Treats, but I can't make it through more than half of a plain old banana without retching. Luckily for my potassium intake there are so many ways to consume bananas other than their raw form. Subbing bananas for eggs in many baked goods is an excellent way to use up the slimy buggers, reap their nutritional benefits, avoid the cholesterol pitfalls of eggs and, at least in my experience, leave the resultant baked good with only the merest hint of banana flavor. Of course if you're going for a veritable banana bread you'll want to amp up the banana in the recipe, but by subbing about 3/4 to 1 mashed banana for each egg in a cookie or quick bread recipe you should not be reeling with banana after each bite.

Lately I've been obsessed with bananas and have eschewed eggs nearly all together. This has not always been successful, but it has not been the fault of bananas. (The incident of the lemon yogurt cake in which I subbed oil for butter and ground flax with blueberries for eggs will be referred to simply as The Unfortunate Collapse.) The obsession was primarily inspired by my discovery of a cache of frozen bananas in our new temporary freezer (thanks Elin!). Freezing bananas is ingenious. They look incredibly gross and sometimes leave an unsightly ooze on the freezer shelf but that's better than leaving them collecting fruit flies until you're obligated to whip out the flour or toss them. Forced baking never yields the best results (except for those vegan banana oat bombs I made awhile back, but I'd say those were more the result of a fixation). I argue that frozen bananas are even better for baking than the ripest of ripe bananas because the innards emerge post-thaw in such a gelatinous ooze that they mix right up with the rest of your wet ingredients without requiring much mashing.

Having learned to embrace a proclivity to boost the gas bill, I popped a couple frozen bananas into a bowl of warm water and messed around with this recipe with happy results. The muffins emerged moist (but not in that undercooked "I can tell something that was not egg or butter was used in this baked good" way) and perfectly crispy on top. Prepare for winter: make these post haste.

Banana-Nut(s) Muffins
I omitted the chocolate chips that were included in the original recipe because, come on, let's at least maintain the charade that muffins are not cake long enough for me to slather peanut butter, nutella, plain old butter or maybe something comparatively healthy but still not quite like apple butter on them. Also, I really don't like banana and chocolate together. I know. It just doesn't work for me, if I want chocolate I want chocolate, not banana-y chocolate. I might also omit the coconut next time, though I'm concerned that that might result in a drier crumb. Were blueberries still in season I would certainly have tossed some in. Ditto re crystallized ginger. And finally, as I am currently nursing a fondness for seeds, I might experiment with some sunflower or pumpkin seeds stuck on the tops (though such adornments typically lend themselves most harmoniously to breads including squash or pumpkin).
2 super-ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
6 Tbl unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 cup unsweeted soy milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup shredded coconut
3 tsp corn starch
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350 and grease your muffin tins. I do this by rolling vegetable oil around in one depression, wiping most of it up with a paper towel and then distributing oil to each subsequent depression with the sopping towel.

Using a hand mixer beat bananas, sugar, apple sauce, vanilla, oil and soymilk until a semi-smooth mixture results. Don't worry if there are still some discernible pieces of banana in the mix, unless you prefer removing all traces of your ingredients' former selves. I like a chunk of banana now and then.

Whisk together the remaining ingredients and gradually stir into the wet mixture until just mixed.

Evenly distribute batter into muffin tin and bake for about 25 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

Let cool slightly in tin before turning them out on a rack to cool completely.

Makes about 9 muffins depending on size of muffin tin.


Elin said...

And you're back, love it! I'm so glad my army of frozen bananas have been used for good and not evil.

Today we're making Estonian pirukad...likely a blog post forthcoming.

Keep baking! Love to see little corners of the apartment.

E xx

Matt said...

dude, bananas are amazing.