Sunday, November 14, 2010

Muffin of the Week - Bananas!

It's been a very busy but fulfilling weekend.  Joe and I drove up to Phoenix to see Deirdre and the boys Friday evening and stayed over for Eli's football game on Saturday morning at 8 a.m.  I can't believe how much more focused those kids are than they were a month ago when we watched his first scrimmage. I have mixed feelings about 5-year-olds being involved in high pressure sports leagues, but I sure was proud to watch my grandson run for 2 touchdowns and a number of other great plays, even if only one of the touchdowns counted (the other one should have).
     We took some bananas with us and they didn't all get eaten, so this morning was banana muffin time.
This recipe is much more decadent than any I've posted so far, with no redeeming whole grains for extra fiber, or other social value, but oh wow, do they taste great! I thought I was going to have to improvise with applesauce or something because I just had two bananas, but then I found a third one in the freezer, so I microwaved it at 60 percent power to thaw it and it was fine.  Here's the recipe:

Banana Muffins – makes 10
1 ½ cups unbleached flour           
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
3 bananas, mashed
¾ cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted or canola oil
Streusel Topping:
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. unbleached flour
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. butter

First, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.
Second, make the streusel topping. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
Then, in a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
Sprinkle topping over muffins.  Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

Now the caveats: I made 10 muffins, but you could probably make 11 and they would still be quite generous, even without the dramatic muffin tops that would have made Elaine happy on Seinfeld, if you remember that episode.  On some of the muffins the streusel topping sank a tiny bit in the middle, like a little navel, but that doesn't really bother me, which is a good thing, since I don't really know how to prevent it.
And another couple of things that you may already know about muffins. 1) It's important not to overmix muffins; if you do, they wind up with pointy heads and the texture isn't as good as it should be.  Just mix them gently to incorporate the wet with the dry ingredients and then stop.  I like the rubber spatulas with a bit of a spoon-like shape; they're also just right for scooping the batter into the muffin cups. 2) Most muffin pans have 12 cups, but if you don't use them all, fill the empty ones about half full with water so they don't warp in the heat of the oven.  If you've properly greased or sprayed the cups, you'll be able to lift the muffins out with a skewer or something similar and the water won't be a problem.
So, Joe and I had our muffins for breakfast, but then the best part was taking some to the hospital when we went to visit friends who just had their first baby yesterday morning, and what a beautiful, beautiful little girl she is!  It was rather an ordeal, and the new mom was still pretty exhausted, and lunch was late, so that first muffin disappeared very quickly.  It's so wonderful to see a new little person arrive to enrich the lives of two people who you just know are going to be wonderful parents.
The years pass so quickly and children grow up so fast.  In five years who knows what this beautiful little girl will be doing?  When we look at our grandchildren, it seems like only yesterday that they were infants and then toddlers, snuggled up in our arms.  But they do grow up, and that's wonderful too.  Just look at that little quarterback!

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