I got hungry this morning and those ripe bananas sitting in the fruit bowl were talking to me. Well, actually, they were talking to my nose, but the end result is the same. I've been making a "rustic" banana muffin for years, but it had quite a bit more sugar and fat than I thought was really necessary. It was tasty, but I thought I could tone it down and still end up with a fine muffin.
I went back and forth over whether to switch to simply using oil compared to shortening. I love the ease of oil over having to cream a batter. I made the switch on a different muffin recipe I use with great success, but I thought I might need that creaming to keep the texture I wanted. I think you could probably use oil instead of shortening and the result would be pretty good, so run with it if you need to. You also have the option to use maple syrup or honey as the liquid sugar in this muffin, depending on the flavor you're going for. I love them both, but they are slightly different. Try them both and see what you think!
Briefly cream the fat and sugar together and then beat in the eggs. I'm so happy to have farm fresh eggs again. In hindsight, I had pretty good timing on that choice to raising hens last year!
Mash the bananas and then beat them into the wet ingredients. You need a cup of banana puree, which is usually two large bananas, but if you end up a bit shy, just top off with water to make the cup.
The batter will be fairly stiff and that's all right!
Sprinkling the tops with a bit of wheat bran and turbinado sugar really makes them special. Turbinado sugar is a coarse crystal, less refined sugar. It has a bit of a molasses edge and the crunch it gives to the top of the muffin is a totally not optional option in my mind.
I use a size 16 disher to make loading the muffin cups easy (that's the blue handled one, if your dishers are color coded). Sprinkle the tops and bake in a preheated 375F oven for about twenty minutes. When the tops start to brown and the muffins are no longer jiggly, they should be ready.
Look how much they rose in the oven! These muffins have a pretty tight crumb structure, but they are soft and delicious. Let cool slightly before eating so that the paper will come off easily.
Hearty Banana Muffins
Yield: 12 muffins
1/3 c vegetable shortening
1/3 c maple syrup or honey
1/4 c sugar
2 large eggs
1 c mashed bananas
1 c all-purpose flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1 TBS baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c wheat bran
1/2 c chopped walnuts (optional)
sprinkle of turbinado sugar and wheat bran for the tops
Preheat the oven to 375F. Briefly cream the shortening and sugar together. Add the eggs and beat. Mash the bananas and then add to the creamed mixture. If you're bananas don't quite make the amount required, simply top off with a bit of water to make the cup and a half. Beat until well mixed.
In a separate bowl, mix the remaining ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir gently until well incorporated. Use a #16 (blue) disher to fill muffin cups about 3/4 full. Sprinkle muffins tops with a little wheat bran and then turbinado sugar. Bake until beginning to brown on the tops and a tester comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving. Muffins freeze very well. Use a microwave to thaw if frozen: 25 seconds for one and 40 seconds for two in most microwaves.