banana muffins

We eat a lot of bananas, but sometimes even the best intentions lead to overripe, mushy bananas that are no longer fit for normal consumption.  My threshold is a lot lower than Mark’s when it comes to the maximum ripeness that can be tolerated, but once they get past the point of no return, they either end up in a smoothie or the trash.  I used to freeze them, thinking that I would use them for some higher purpose, but frozen bananas are the worst to peel and frankly, I’m too lazy to portion them neatly into freezer bags.  The trick is to know thyself and conduct matters accordingly.

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Of course, another alternative is to turn them into a baked good of some kind, banana bread being the standard go-to.  I have a long-time love for banana bread that shall last through the ages.  The aroma of fresh banana bread that permeates every nook and cranny while it gets happy in the oven is like a warm, comforting blanket that hugs my nostrils and reassures me that everything is gonna be all right.

Melodramatics aside, I’ve been using the same banana bread recipe since the late 90’s.  This recipe is another one inherited from an Home Economics class and it has never failed me.  I think it’s an ideal base banana bread recipe that can be customized with a few tweaks here and there, or random add-ins (hello, white chocolate chips!).  And as you can see, it’s the perfect recipe for moist, fluffy banana muffins that turn out spectacular every time.

I baked these up when I noticed three sad looking bananas ripening away on the counter top.  One of them begged for an honorable end, and how can one refuse a banana’s dying wish?

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The key to perfect banana muffins is mixing the batter as little as possible.  By now I’m sure you all know that over-working a batter develops too much gluten, resulting in a really tough product.  Gluten is great for traditional breads, but not for cake-like batters.  Only mix until the dry ingredients are moistened by the wet ingredients, and then put down the spatula and step away from the bowl.

Feel free to use liners or not; I prefer liners for two main reasons: 1) easier to pop out the finished muffins, 2) way less clean-up.

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While banana bread is generally quite dense, these muffins turn out quite light and fluffy.  So you get the taste of banana bread, but in a more cakey form.  Mmmmmm.

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The texture and soft crumb is quite lovely.  These are so good just minutes out of the oven.  I love splitting a freshly baked muffin and seeing the steam rise up from the middle.  It’s like a scented steam bath for my nose.

This recipe makes about 18-20 muffins, or you can bake it up as a traditional banana bread loaf.  Either way, I hope you enjoy this timeless classic.

Banana Muffins

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 3)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  •  2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F and prepare two standard muffin tins.  In a medium bowl, mash the bananas with a fork or potato masher; set aside.  In another bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating until smooth.  Blend in mashed bananas and the vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.  In a large bowl, stir flour with baking soda, baking powder, and salt..  Add to banana mixture only to moisten.

Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 of the way.  Bake at 350F for 18-20 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Let stand 10 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack to cool.

*If making a banana loaf, prepare a loaf pan by greasing it or lining it with parchment paper.  Transfer the batter into the loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

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