Thursday, July 21, 2011

Banana-Strawberry Muffins

From this . . .

... to this!

The summer I graduated high school, I camped throughout East Africa for about a month. Part of my diet was bananas. Delicious, sweet bananas that kind of reminded me of vanilla ice cream. We bought them in huge clusters, and each banana was only a few inches long. I was totally spoiled for life. Today, when I eat what passes for a banana in the grocery store, I wince. To me, they're sour. When and if I buy any, they tend to . . . rot. 

So, when given rotten bananas . . . make muffins. With strawberries. These are great summer-time fare. And what a great combo. Be sure to use firm strawberries. Don't cut them up too small, or they just kind of "disappear." I love biting into a strawberry with the banana taste in the background. I expect blueberries would work well, too. 

  • Batter:
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour (reserve 1/4 cup)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup light-brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
  • 2 eggs, well beaten (I use an old-fashioned hand beater)
  • 1 lime, zested (about 3/4 of it)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Fruit:
  • 1 cup mashed, ripened bananas (about 2-3)
  • 1 cup cut-up fresh strawberries
  • Topping:
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper cups or spritz them with a non-stick spray. (I'm not a paper-cup kind of guy when it comes to muffins. I like them browned all over.)

First, make the topping. Mix sugar, flour and cold pieces of butter in a small bowl. Use a fork to mash and work through until "crumbs" begin to form. I end up "rubbing" it with my fingers. The trick is not to get the butter too soft or warm. Return to fridge until ready to use.

Next, prepare the fruit. Mash bananas with a fork or pastry blender, being sure to leave some "bits." Cut up strawberries and dust with reserved 1/4 cup of flour.

In a small bowl or on a sheet of waxed paper, measure out the 2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt. Mix together.

In a large bowl, combine brown sugars, melted butter, beaten eggs, banana, lime zest, cinnamon and vanilla.

Using a wooden spoon or wide spatula, begin adding dry ingredients. Mix just until blended.

Carefully add the strawberries, using a folding motion so you don't smash them.

Evenly divide the batter into 12-cup tin paying close attention to add berries to each.

Sprinkle with crumble topping being sure to evenly distribute it over surface and not just plopping in down in the center of each (you won't quite need to use it all).

Bake for about 20-25 minutes until top springs back when touched and toothpick comes out clean. Remove to wire rack and allow to cool before eating. Schmear with a bit of cream cheese, if desired. 

Notes: I used Driscoll Organic strawberries. Next time I may just cancel out the vanilla flavoring and sub rum extract. I threw out my really old, tinny, muffin pans several years ago and invested in some sturdy, non-stick ones. A spritz of non-stick spray is all that is needed and muffins literally slide right out. When you "spray" a pan, do it over the open door of your dishwasher. This prevents the spray from going all over and is easily cleaned when you do a cycle of dishes.