27 October 2012

Best Banana Muffins

Every week we buy bananas for Shana to eat at school, on the way to school, or in the middle of the night if she gets super hungry. Most weeks, all the bananas are eaten. However, occasionally we have a banana left over at the end of the week. You know that banana. The browning, squishy, BANANA-smelling, one. I'm not sure I'd eat that banana if my life depended on it (when I eat bananas, they have to be yellow-green and firm). Thus, those bananas get tossed in to the freezer, waiting for a time when I decide to turn them magically into something delicious.

This morning's confluence of factors (the cold outside, our lack of plan for breakfast, a sleeping Shana, a hungry Maggie, and much of the rest of the day to work) turned my groggy morning thoughts to baking, thinking both to warm the kitchen and have freezer-goodies for later breakfasts. It was then that I remembered the seven bananas in the freezer, just waiting. Yes, I said seven. In short order, four of the frozen bananas were out, thawing on the counter.

The recipe below is one of the first breakfast recipes I tried on my own after going vegan (well, that wasn't pancakes) and it is great! It is actually one of those recipes I frequently find that are essentially vegan, meaning all I have to do is replace a very common ingredient (e.g., cow butter for vegan butter). There's no replacing of eggs and no "weird vegan ingredients" (most people think of things like flax seed and wheat germ as "weird vegan ingredients"); there are just pantry staples that are combined into the best banana muffin I've ever had.

Best Banana Muffins
2 T. vegan butter
2 heaping T. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 very large, very ripe bananas
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. quick cooking or regular oats
1 heaping tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
chopped walnuts or other nuts, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
1. Melt butter, sugar, and vanilla in a small pan over low heat.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.
3. Mash the bananas with a fork, potato ricer, or other tool.
4. Add the mashed bananas and the melted butter/sugar/vanilla, and nuts if using, to the dry ingredients, mixing until just wet (you will have a really sludgy mess in the bowl).
5. Fill your muffin cups about 2/3 of the way full with batter, but this doesn't rise a ton, so you can make them a bit fuller if you'd like.
6. Bake for about 25 min, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
7. Let cool slightly then move to a cooling rack.

Helpful Hints
  • It is really important not to over mix when you put the wet ingredients in with the dry ingredients. If you do, they will become even more dense than they already are. 
  • If you opt to use nuts, I think walnuts are the best in here, but clearly use what you like. I usually make just a few with nuts (the last of the batter), because I prefer these nut-free but Shana likes them nut-full  (not a word).
  • These freeze beautifully! Take out one or two, throw it in the microwave for 20-30 seconds (depending on your microwave) and you've got breakfast on the go.
  • Feel free to substitute whole wheat pastry flour (today I did half all-purpose and half whole wheat). 
  • This recipe is essentially one that is floating around on the internet, but I found it here at VegWeb, which is a GREAT source for all sorts of vegan recipes.
The post "Best Banana Muffins" originally appeared on Maggie's LesVegan Kitchen.

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