Sorry it has been so long since I’ve posted…I’ve been baking muffins.
Ok…maybe I’ve done a few other things too. I have baked a LOT of muffins though.
We’ve tried lots of new recipes over the last few weeks with lots of new ingredients. I’ve been trying to master the art of making a whole-wheat muffin taste more like a muffin and than like…well…warm spicy bread. Although my dad and Paula Deen say that you can never have too much sugar, I’ve been trying to find a balance that will allow the natural flavors to shine without feeling like I’m feeding my family a candy bar.
Since I’m trying to move toward more whole-food ingredients, there has been a definite learning curve. Some of the new ingredients I’ve been playing with in my muffin recipes include whole wheat flour, ground flax seed, raw honey, less refined sugars, and veggies!
I’ve had success with recipes like carrot-applesauce muffin, zucchini muffins, pumpkin muffins, and our old reliable banana muffins. I’ve also had failures with those same recipes–except the banana muffins…those are resilient enough that I haven’t managed to mess them up yet. 🙂
Some things that I’ve learned:
- Adding sour cream or yogurt to the batter will help moisten whole wheat muffins and make the sweetener sweeten better
- Although they say you can substitute ground flax for an egg (1T flax + 3T water) or some of the fat (3T flax for 1T butter/oil) in a recipe, I’m almost always too chicken to try it. I usually just adding a bit for an extra boost of nutrients in the overall recipe.
- Whether or not it is possible to have too much sugar, it is definitely possible to have too little.
- If you put too little sugar in a recipe, you will clean up 6-10X the crumbs from your floor/furniture because the kids would rather crumble the muffins than gobble them down like properly sweetened ones.
- Baking my own muffins from scratch is much less expensive than buying pre-made muffins, and I get to control what goes into them!
- Muffin recipes are amazingly flexible. As long as you add enough sweetener (see above), you can add or substitute ingredients pretty much at will. Batter seem too thick? Add a splash of buttermilk! Don’t have buttermilk? Use sweet milk or almond milk or yogurt or sour cream or applesauce or…you get the idea!
- I hate muffin papers. I don’t use them. I bake muffins in an oiled muffin tin and they come out just fine. I don’t lose any muffin yumminess to that sticky paper, and I have one less thing to pick up when the boys forget that our maid doesn’t exist.
- I love silicone baking liners, but I don’t use them for baking. I use them for separating items in Zander’s lunch…sometimes even muffins! 🙂
- Muffins freeze really well. I just cool them completely and pop 6 into each quart sized freezer bag. They warm up in 30 seconds in the microwave for a fast breakfast, or I can just pop it still frozen into the lunchbox. By the time they get to lunch, the muffin is ready to eat.
Now for a recipe!
Whole Wheat Banana Muffins (adapted from Heavenly Homemakers)
- 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour (I usually bump closer to 2 cups)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup mashed over-ripe bananas (about 2-3 bananas–I always use 3 and have a bit more than 1 cup in the end)
- 1/3 cup honey (if using sugar, I would probably double this amount)
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 2 eggs
- up to 1/2 cup pecan pieces (optional)
Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, mash bananas, or puree them in a blender.
I keep ripe bananas in my freezer all the time for this very purpose. You just let them sit for a few minutes on the counter (or zap them for 30 seconds in the microwave if you’re running behind like I usually am) to soften them enough to squeeze them out of the skins (gross but oddly satisfying). The great thing is that they’re already pretty mushed when they come out, so there’s not much mashing or pureeing required–just a few swipes with a fork to finish it off.
Mix mashed bananas, honey, melted butter and eggs into flour mixture.
Fold in pecan pieces if using–I actually spoon half of the batter into cups first, then fold them in for the last half of the batch because Michael only likes them WITH nuts and Zan only likes them WITHOUT nuts. Naturally. 🙂
Spoon batter into buttered or paper lined muffin tins. Bake in a 400° oven for 20 minutes.
I get anywhere from 12-15 muffins from this recipe, depending on how I hold my mouth when I’m mixing it up.
When they come out, I let them cool for a minute or two in the pan before removing to a wire rack. Since these are quite moist, they need to be completely cool before putting them into a container or you can put a paper towel in there with them to absorb the extra moisture if you’re too rushed to wait the whole time.
I’ll post my pumpkin muffin recipe tomorrow, after I test it one more time tonight. It’s an adaptation of this recipe, but I have to make sure I can recreate it before I unleash it on anyone else. Ha!