Thursday, October 17, 2013

Banana Bread Muffins

Banana bread muffins fresh from the oven in vintage EKCO muffin tins

Maybe it's a sacrilege to mess with a recipe from James Beard, but that's how I roll sometimes. The original banana bread recipe was originally published in Beard on Bread 40 years ago and it makes the best banana bread I've ever tasted. I got my own copy of this cookbook from my mom 10 years ago (probably after calling for the recipes from hers too many times) and this is the recipe that is the most used from this book. It's a great way to make use of overly-ripe bananas and I bet James Beard would approve of my rendition.

These are great in the morning with coffee or late at night as a sweet treat. I've shared this recipe many times and it always gets rave reviews. My version uses half the sugar of the original recipe, omits the chopped nuts, and bakes in essentially half the time. Ever since I started making it this way, I've never felt the need to go back to the loaf. Making this as muffins increases the ratio of toasty browned edge to soft center. I don't miss the sugar either. I find that the bananas are sweet enough for my taste. I often keep really ripe bananas in the freezer just for this purpose.

Banana Bread Muffins (adapted from James Beard's Beard on Bread)
Makes a dozen muffins.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup unsalted butter
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed, very ripe bananas (about 2 bananas)
⅓ cup milk
1 tsp white vinegar

Sift the flour with the baking soda and salt. Cream the butter and gradually add the sugar.  Mix well. Add the eggs and the bananas and blend thoroughly. Combine the milk and vinegar, which will curdle a bit. Slowly and alternately fold in the flour mixture and milk mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Blend well after each addition. Spoon the batter evenly into the cups of lavishy buttered muffin tins and bake in a preheated 350ยบ oven for 30 minutes, or until the muffins spring back when lightly touched in the center.

Serve warm (or toasted) with a smear of butter or a drizzle of honey.

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