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I really wanted to call this post and its future companion piece Midnight with the (banana) Muffins of Good and Evil, parts 1 and 2. Because, of course, that's the first search phrase that people will punch into search engines when looking for banana muffins In the end, I opted for the title you see above – but let me tell you, it is a miracle for me to mention the words "banana" and "good" in the same sentence.
You see, I have had somewhat of a love-hate relationship with bananas – well, more of a hate-hate relationship, truth be told. As I was her firstborn, my mom read all the child rearing books she could lay her hands on and they all said the same thing: when you are ready to wean your baby onto solids, then mashed banana is the perfect food to start with. She dutifully mashed the banana and transported it to my expectant mouth in a spoon. I let the spoon pas my lips because, you know, she was my mom and I trusted her not to try and poison me. But apparently it took about a split second for my mouth to register that this was not a texture I wanted to experience. Apparently my hands flew up to beside my ears where they started making frantic "squishing" moments, mimicking almost exactly the movements my mouth were making as it expelled the offending banana onto my clothes. Nice.
And that was pretty much that for me and bananas: I never outgrew the dislike. Most other things that i used to abhor as a child, I have subsequently grown to like or even love, but not Evil Bananas. I cannot abide banana milkshakes, or banana-flavoured sweets and smoothies can be a real challenge if they do not contain enough disguising berry flavours. But for some reason I have always loved banana bread and banana muffins. Clever tastebuds
My mom used to bake an absolutely killer banana bread. I remember watching her peel and mash the blackened overripe bananas with a terrible fascination, and then I remember the whole house smelling like banana bread for what seemed like hours. It was always a struggle waiting long enough for the bread to cool before slicing (or risk a crumbly mess!) and that first bite was always a little piece of heaven.
Sadly, after my mom's death I discovered that she had not written down her banana bread recipe. Maybe she had made it so many times that she had no need of a recipe. Maybe the recipe came on the back of a flour packet and she just used the recipe on the package each time (my mom was an inveterate user of package recipes!). I'll never know. All I do know is that I am on the eternal (and as yet fruitless) search for a moist, nutty banana bread recipe that can also be baked in muffin tins and taste just like Mamma's.
A recent attempt made use of a recipe from my beloved Muffins Galore book. On paper it looked like it might be spot on – but of course I discounted the fact that my mom never paid any heed whatsoever to calories when she cooked, and I am sure that her muffins were packed with butter. These muffins, on the other hand, are really low fat and filled with healthy things, and they are… not bad. But I have to say that they tasted a little dry and a little, umm, worthy, neither of which terms could ever be applied to my mother Still, if you are after a low-fat nutty banana muffin, these are just the ticket – and see how pretty they turned out!
LOW-FAT BANANA WALNUT MUFFINS (makes 12 regular muffins)
150g self-raising wholemeal flour
150g self-raising white flour
2 tablespoons soft light brown sugar (plus extra for sprinkling)
65g walnuts, chopped
3 large ripe bananas, peeled
3 Tbsp sunflower oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
5 Tbsp soured cream
2 Tbsp clear honey
Pre-heat oven to 200C (400F). Grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line the cups with paper muffin gcases.
Mix flours, sugar and walnuts in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas with a fork or potato masher until fairly smooth, then stir in the oil, eggs, soured cream and honey.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix briefly, unilt just combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, dividing it equally. Sprinkle each muffin with a little sugar.
Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until risen and golden. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
And don't forget to get your barbecue and braai recipes to me by 23 September for the Braai, the Beloved Country event to celebrate South Africa's Heritage Day this month!