Monday, March 3, 2008

Banana Quick Bread--Afterthought No More!

Necessity is the mother of invention. I'm guessing that is how the concept for banana bread came about. Let's face it, no one goes to the store to buy bananas with the intention of using them for a quick-bread or muffin. Most people who bake at all, bake banana bread only when they don't know what to do with a few overripe bananas which have been sitting on their counter for several days.

In my case, this seems to happen more often than it should. My kids love the idea of buying fresh bananas in the store, but then never want to eat them once at home. Today, I found myself with two very brown bananas and an hour of time, so naturally, I decided to make some banana bread. Usually, I'll make a few mini-loaves to stash in my freezer, for those occasions where you need to bring a little something to someone, or when a friend pops over for an unexpected visit. However, today, I was more in the mood for muffins, and I decided to put a little twist on my very favorite banana bread recipe from The Joy of Cooking. My idea was to add some additional fiber with whole wheat flour, cut down on the calories by using Spenda instead of sugar, increase moisture with some milk, and give them a little more bulk by adding old-fashioned oats. The result was a big, fluffy, beautiful muffin, which tasted every bit as good as it looked.

The next time you go to the store, buy a few extra bananas and try this recipe. Banana bread doesn't have to be an afterthought!
Banana-Oatmeal Muffins
Makes 6 big or 12 small muffins

2/3 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup white, all-purpose flour (unbleached)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup unsalted butter (5 1/3 T), at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar or Splenda for Baking
2 eggs
1 cup mashed, overripe bananas
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup skim milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tins with paper liners.

In a small bowl, combine flours, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.

In a larger bowl, combine butter and sugar (or Splenda) until light and fluffy.

Beat in flour mixture until just incorporated.

Add eggs and milk and beat to combine.

Gently fold in mashed bananas and oats.

Divide batter evenly into muffin tins and bake 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Store on the countertop on the day muffins are baked, or place in an airtight container for longer storage. Muffins may be frozen for up to 2 months.

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