Sunday, October 23, 2011

Creation Sunday - "Fruit Puree" Muffins Pt. 1 - Banana

Today, for "Creation Sunday", Hillary is starting a 2 (or maybe 3) part series on variations on a muffin recipe.

I love baking and I love eating.  One of my favorite things for both is muffins.  They are mega tasty, easy to make and can be as nutritious or junky as you want.  Today, I want to share my favorite Banana Muffin Recipe, and over the next few weeks, we'll explore some variants on it.  First, if you're not familiar with Alton Brown's Book "I'm Just here for more food: Food X Mixing + Heat = Baking", I would strongly suggest getting your hands on it and reading the "Muffin Method" section.  It explains very clearly why you use certain ingredients, what they do and why mixing them a certain way is very important.  In fact, this book is an excellent reference and recipe book for all kinds of baking and I would highly recommend it.

So, for our banana muffins, we'll start with the base Recipe, "Banana Crunch Muffins", which can be found here on the Post website. I make a few modifications, following similar rules to what I discussed in my cookie post

Here are the changes I make:
-I use whole wheat pastry flour instead of regular flour to make it heartier, healthier, and, IMHO, more flavorful.
-I add a pinch or two of nutmeg in with the dry ingredients for a little more flavor.
-I add approx 1 tbl of molasses (or honey) in with the wet ingredients because it adds a little more flavor and because molasses and honey are more hygroscopic than sugar which means they help the muffins stay moist better than sugar.
-For the yogurt, it varies what I use:  I usually use plain nonfat yogurt, but I have used lowfat yogurt, vanilla yogurt, low fat sour cream and a host of other things as well.

-I substitute Cranberry Almond Crunch for the cereal because it gives it more varied texture and flavor than using grape nuts does.
-The final touch that I add to these muffins that I think adds that perfect little extra "pop" is sprinkling the tops with cinnamon and sugar. 

Actually, I owe the discovery of the last change to my current career as a nanny.  One day, I went to work and there were overripe bananas in the house so I asked the little girl I watch if she wanted to make muffins.  As I was searching around for spices to add in, I found the cinnamon sugar and thought it might be fun for her to sprinkle that on the tops of the muffins.   I knew it would be tasty, but I found that it took my favorite banana muffin recipe from the mountain top to pure heaven.

One note about these: Since this recipe is fairly low in fat, it cannot be made into banana bread as the middle will not cook all the way (trust me).  I have made larger single muffins in ramekins with success, but I have never tried a whole batch of large muffins in a large muffin tin, so I am not sure if that would work.

That's all for that recipe, but tune in over the next few weeks for some awesome variations on that recipe (here's a hint: they're not banana, but they're just as awesome!)...

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