Reeling from the recent success of my (semi-)whole wheat lemon muffins, I wanted to make yet another attempt at muffins in my apartment. But high and low I had searched, and all in vain, for a muffin pan to use in my toaster oven. I was devastated. Utterly defeated.
And then a little birdy suggested that I buy individual silicone muffin cups and use them without a pan.
So I bought silicone cups. Then I found paper cups that are good for baking without a pan, and I used those instead. I’m usually a little wary of silicone baking things. I used to have a silicone brownie pan, but it was disastrous. The material, naturally, is flexible, but the pan was relatively large, so whenever I pulled it out of the oven, it would either sag or bend, tearing up the brownies. After countless fiascoes with the rubber, I decided I would never use silicone tools again…but I’m just really really desperate for the opportunity to bake something other than poundcake. And muffins are the easiest, fastest, and most forgiving of anything I’ve ever put in an oven.
And so, like Gluttonlocks…I mean Goldilocks…I tried the paper cups. Too tall and none of the five muffins rose above the tops. Then I bought regular muffin cups and tried those without a muffin pan. Too wide and flimsy, and the muffins grew to epic and ugly proportions. Finally, I tried the silicone cups. Just right. Flexible enough to pop the muffins out when they’re done, but stiff enough to keep the muffins from hogging up space.
Next was the issue of ingredient amounts. The first two times, I could only manage five muffins with the batter I made. And even then, the batter was a little dry. In order to make the batter thinner, I added more soy milk and less flour, and I thought I could use the smaller set of silicone cups to make the muffins look bigger. But then the cups overflowed with batter, so I ended up with six gargantuan muffins. Next, same batter recipe, bigger muffin cups, six muffins. It would have been perfect if they hadn’t been squeezed into a little poundcake pan and turned out rectangular like those really expensive Japanese watermelons. I gave those to my friends who really don’t care what a muffin looks like as long as they can put it in their mouths. And after four attempts, I figured I would keep the batter recipe, and use the larger silicone cups to make half a dozen.
And batches five and six were perfect. I’ve never baked as many times in a week as I did this past week, and I’ve never made a recipe as many times as I have this one.
And when I was typing up this post, I accidentally wrote “sex” instead of “six.”
As I discovered with the lemon wheat muffins a few weeks ago, the contrast of the fruit and the whole wheat flour makes for a lighter-than-expected muffin but one that isn’t too sweet. I’ll be making a lot more semi-whole-wheat muffins from now on. When you eat them, you feel good. And, there’s nothing crazy in the batter, so you feel really good. The bananas provide more than enough flavor and sweetness, and the spices are a perfect compliment, so add them liberally.
spiced banana nut muffins (vegan)
based on the (semi-) whole wheat lemon muffins from January
makes 1 dozen
160 g (1 c) AP flour
130 g (3/4 c) whole wheat flour
135 g (3/4 c) granulated sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
Spices: cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger
90 g banana, mashed (~2/3 of a full banana)
260 g (1 c) soy milk
50 g (1/4) vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 banana, chopped
Walnuts, if desired
Extras (caramel chips, etc.)
If using a conventional oven, preheat to 400 F/200 C, and line a muffin pan with 12 paper cups. Or, if your oven is small, use 6 silicone (or stiff paper) muffin cups and make 1/2 a batch at a time. Don’t make all of the batter at once, though. Make the batter in two batches.
Combine the flours, sugar, salt, baking powder, and spices in a small bowl.
In a large bowl, mash the banana and whisk in the milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract.
Add the dry mix to the wet mix and combine until it’s all wet and there are no dry pockets left. Fold in the chopped banana, nuts, and extras. Don’t mix for too long because the baking powder acts quickly.
Using a cookie scoop, divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and bake for 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.
If using a toaster oven, either toast for 25 minutes at 740 W, OR, toast for 7 – 8 minutes at 1000 W, then another 10 – 15 at 740 W. This is particularly useful if your muffin cups are too full.
Remove and set on a wire rack to cool. Best eaten warm, or microwaved for ~10 seconds.
Good in the morning, good in the evening; pop them out, pull them apart, and enjoy.