Baking - Breads, Ingredient Insights, Recipe

Banana Bread Muffins

I have discovered that my favourite banana muffin recipe isn’t a muffin recipe at all. Well, I guess I didn’t discover it, because I always knew, but it was a bit of an experiment when I tried it.

The recipe I had been using was a very basic muffin recipe that had various adaptations, to make them into, say, blueberry muffins, oatmeal, cranberry etc., and banana. They were great fresh from the oven, but the next day they always seemed to be dried out. I would try freezing them as soon as they were cool to try and preserve the freshness, but I was never satisfied.

Banana bread muffins with chocolate and cranberries.
Banana bread muffins with chocolate and cranberries.

I decided to try a new approach. I found a banana bread recipe, and because I didn’t want to wait around for an hour for it to bake, I chose to make it in muffin tins, thereby decreasing the time needed to bake. They were very moist fresh from the oven, and stayed moist for several days! I was so happy! I even tried using whole wheat flour, and they still stayed moist.

So what’s the difference? They’re both quick breads, with basically the same ingredients. Why would one come out more moist than the other? I would say it’s because of the amount of each ingredient. I think because a loaf of banana bread is a larger mass and requires more time to bake, it has a higher quantity of ingredients that add more moisture; so as it bakes and the moisture evaporates away it will still come out moist. By putting the bread recipe into muffin tins, they have the same amount of moisture but aren’t baked as long, so not as much moisture is evaporated away, leaving a lovely moist crumb for the muffins. The banana bread recipe I now use calls for slightly less flour than the muffin recipe, more banana, and two eggs instead of one. It also calls for more sugar, and brown instead of white, which adds to the texture. I experimented with one batch by decreasing the amount of sugar to 1/2 cup and they came out just as nice.

Here’s the banana bread recipe, with directions for bread or muffins:

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Sift together 1 1/2 cups unbleached or whole wheat flour, 1 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp salt; set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, blend together in this order: 1/3 cup oil, 3/4 (or 1/2) cup brown sugar, 1 cup mashed ripe bananas, 2 eggs, 1/3 cup milk, 1 tsp vanilla.
  • Stir dry ingredients into banana mixture until just blended.
  • For banana bread: turn batter into greased and floured 9″x5″ loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour, or until toothpick comes out clean.
  • For muffins: scoop into greased muffin tins. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Makes 1 dozen.
  • You can also add anything to make them more interesting: nuts, seeds, chocolate chips, raisins; or my favourite combo right now, dried cranberries and dark chocolate pieces! Yummy!
Baking - General, Recipe

Spiced Almonds

I did quite a bit of baking through the holiday season, and one of the things I made to give away this year was spiced almonds. It’s a pretty simple recipe, and coats the almonds with a touch of sweetness, followed by a bit of a kick! It’s also a great holiday snack because you don’t have to feel quite as guilty about eating nuts as you do about cookies and fudge (but I still eat them anyway!)

Roasted spiced almonds.
Roasted spiced almonds.

To make these – and I think you could probably use any kind of nut, not just almonds – blend together 2 Tbsp liquid honey, 2 Tbsp veg. oil, 2 Tbsp sugar, 1 tsp cayenne pepper or curry powder, 1 tsp paprika, and 1 tsp salt. Once blended, pour in 3 cups of whole almonds (with skin on). Stir to coat the almonds, then spread in a single layer on an oiled or parchment lined baking sheet. Roast at 350F for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until nuts are toasted and glazed. Cool on the pan, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, and break apart once cooled.

And voila, an easy-peasy party snack, just in time for New Year’s!

Baking - Breads, Recipe

Crispy Amazingness!

This post is especially for my mother-in-law, and of course anyone else with a love of Raincoast Crisps. We were visiting my in-laws over Easter, and my mother-in-law had a box of these crisps. They are super crunchy, full of yummy nuts, seeds and dried fruits, with a touch of sweetness making them the perfect base for enjoying cheese, hummus, and any other savoury topping. But they are really expensive. Don’t get me wrong, they are all natural and totally worth it, but for those of us who can eat a whole box in one sitting, it can be a pricey habit. I looked at the ingredients on the box, and since they are all natural I recognized, and had on hand, pretty much all the ingredients. And being a baker, I also recognized by the look and consistency of the crackers, that they must be double baked like biscotti. And being resourceful, I headed to the internet to search for a recipe. I found a recipe on a blog and set about making some of these crisps for myself. You can find the original recipe here: Dinner with Julie.

I modified the recipe a bit, and you can too, substituting or adding any combination of nuts, seeds, dried fruits or herbs. It’s a cracker lover’s dream come true! Continue reading “Crispy Amazingness!”