Peanut Butter Banana Bread

I must admit, I’ve been a horrible person lately. It’s not that I haven’t been blogging (although that’s true as well), I really haven’t cooked at all. Going from school to work, then back to school, my meals have consisted primarily of whatever bread is in the house, spread with peanut butter or Nutella. Which depending on the freshness of the bread can be either quite satisfying or comparable to consuming cardboard. Fancy right?

So when I discovered some rotten bananas on my counter that wouldn’t stop staring me down, I knew it was time to make some banana bread. Either that or it was my sister relentlessly asking, “are you going to make banana bread with those? When are you going to make banana bread?”.

We were running a little low on chocolate chips (which are obviously a necessity for banana bread, duh) so I decided to switch things up a bit and make peanut butter banana bread (with those few remaining choco chips of course). Supplemented with the crunch of the peanuts, I thought it turned out quite successfully. Moist, not too sweet, good texture….and not that bad for you either. Unlike most banana breads which contain at least 1/2 cup of oil or butter, this had a mere 3 tbsp. along with yogurt and the peanut butter to keep it from drying out. However a suggestion if you do end up with leftover, drier than a popcorn fart banana bread (which I doubt because this will get eaten up) french toast is always a winner. Along with some salted caramel sauce or flambeed bananas, you can get away with serving it from breakfast or dessert. Man I do need to cook more often, I feel deprived!

peanut butter banana bread
peanut butter banana bread

Peanut Butter Banana Bread
Adapted from Joy the Baker

1 1/2 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3 of them)
1/3 cup each vanilla yogurt and peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3 tbsp. canola oil
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup bran
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. each cinnamon, allspice and cloves
1/4 cup each chocolate chips and peanuts

Heat the oven to 350 F. Mash the bananas and combine with the yogurt, peanut butter, eggs, oil and sugar. Once everything is thoroughly blended, add in the remainder of the ingredients. Mix until the flour is just combined and there are no obvious pockets of it left. Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for 55-65 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean). Cool before removing from the pan, slice and enjoy!

As a side note, I discovered something new today. Potato mashers double excellently as a your stirring utensil in this recipe. After I mashed the bananas I just kept using it and it easily incorporated all of the ingredients sans over-mixing. Who knew?!

peanut butter banana bread
peanut butter banana bread

Banana Carrot Muffins

banana carrot muffins

Banana Carrot Muffins

3 bananas, mashed
2 cups grated carrot (this was equivalent to 3 fairly normal sized carrots for me)
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp almond extract
3/4 cup brown sugar

3 cups pastry flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cloves
1 cup chocolate chips (or other fresh/frozen/dried fruit, nuts, etc)

banana carrot muffins

I love muffins because they are such a cinch to make! Combine the wet ingredients, combine the dry ingredients, fold everything together and bake. As you will notice I separated the ingredients into 2 groups above, wet and dry. I tend to add sugar in with the wet ingredients, allowing it to dissolve and distribute more evenly throughout the batter. And remember, don’t overmix (or the muffins will have tunnels and turn out all pointy looking). Once everything has just come together, you’re done. Portion the batter into muffin tins and bake at 350 F for about 25 minutes (regular sized muffins) or 15-20 for mini muffins. This made 12 of each. Which means it would probably make 24 mini muffins or 18 regular if you wanted to choose between one of the other. But variety is the spice of life right? They’re also great to freeze. Then you can stock up when you know you’re going to be busy and there won’t be time to bake.

banana carrot muffins

 

Zucchini Muffins

These muffins have way too many things in them to even give an appropriate name. Zucchini chocolate chip muffins? Sounds like it’s pretending to be healthy. Banana zucchini bran muffins? Now we’re talking uber healthy. How about just zucchini muffins, plain and simple? My take on a classic.
zucchini muffins
Zucchini Muffins
1 cup bran
1 banana
1 cup grated zucchini
1/4 cup olive oil
1 egg
First combine these ingredients and let them soak for 20-30 minutes. The bran absorbs all of the moisture, no dry muffins here.
1 cup cake flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Add all of the dry ingredients to the bran and stir until just combined. Don’t over-mix or you run the risk of making them tough. Spoon the batter into lined muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. It makes 10-12 muffins depending on how large you make them. A perfect breakfast, snack, dessert or whatever you want them to be!
zucchini muffins
zucchini muffins

Baking with Applesauce Part 1

Remember those little applesauce cups you ate as a kid? Heck, I’m young, maybe you fed (feed) them to your kids. Well I bet you didn’t know how conducive they are to baking. If you are oblivious to this and other baking concepts then it might be wise to go to DelhiBakersclub.in for more learning. You’ll be baking with applesauce in no time! Mmmhmm, applesauce in baked goods. Plus they are conveniently packaged in 1/2 cup portions, a perfect amount for most recipes. Admittedly not the most environmentally friendly concept out there (does it help that I bought the organic ones?) but if I open an entire jar of applesauce, it’s probably going to grow fur before I use it up. And then that would be wasteful. You can never win…

That’s not the point though. Regardless of what packaging medium you choose, applesauce is probably my favorite baking ingredient. It can replace eggs (1 egg = about 1/4 cup applesauce). Minus the leavening power of course. It can even replace oil and butter (aka fat). You have to be careful with your ratios, no doubt. I have definitely taken it to the extreme but you learn pretty quickly that “vegan, gluten-free, fat-free, dairy-free, item of your choice” frankly just tastes like crap. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a major advocate for healthy food but at the end of the day, a little oil isn’t going to hurt you. In fact, for the bran muffin recipe I’m sharing, I replaced the original 1 cup of buttermilk with 1/2 cup each applesauce and water. I kept the oil the same because at 1/3 cup, the amount really wasn’t significant in the first place.

Applesauce bran muffins

With baking, you have to remember that each and every ingredient has a function. There is a science behind the outcome of your cookies, cakes, muffins, tarts, you name it. Get rid of eggs? Sure, no problem. Add some applesauce and extra baking powder to compensate. Get rid of eggs and flour, thus making a vegan and gluten-free product? You are going to start encountering some problems. I’m not saying it’s impossible but it’s a feat, that’s for sure. Because guess what’s gives Product(x) it’s structure? Hmm, protein. Where does protein come from? Eggs. And flour (gluten). Goodbye eggs and flour, goodbye protein, goodbye structure. Hello mush! So basically from my experience, what I am trying to tell you is that it’s great to experiment. That’s what cooking is all about. But in doing so, you can only alter so many variables. When you change 14 different things from the original recipe (I’m definitely guilty of doing this) and something goes wrong, how are you ever going to figure out the culprit? You just get frustrated and throw together another random recipe which fails (most likely, hey it could magically work out). Then you’re back to square 1. So experiment all you want, just be smart about it. Otherwise you just end up hating your life and going to sulk in a corner because you “suck at cooking, are a failure at life and should just give up”.

Wow, I went from applesauce to that? So then, how about some bran muffins?

Applesauce bran muffins

Applesauce Raspberry Bran Muffins

adapted from AllRecipes

– 1 1/2 cups bran
– 1/2 cup water
– 1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
– 1/3 cup oil
– 1 egg
– 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries (or fruit of your choice)
– 2/3 cup white sugar
– 1 cup flour
– 1 tsp. baking powder
– 1 tsp. baking soda
– 1/2 tsp. salt
– cinnamon, to taste

If there is one thing that I’ve learned in life, it’s that you have to soak your bran, no questions asked. Soak your bran, you ask? Yep, soak your bran. In this case you have 1 of 2 choices. You can just mix the bran, water and applesauce together in a bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. Honestly, the bran absorbs all of the liquid and it makes a world of difference in the moisture of the final product. Option 2, you can be especially efficient and throw the oil and egg in there too. Why not? One less step to do later. Actually I even included the frozen raspberries. Although I will warn you, their color bleeds into the batter turning it basically magenta (quite pretty I might add). But if that doesn’t float your boat, just hold off on the raspberries until later.
Applesauce bran muffins
When the bran is almost done soaking, preheat your oven to 350 F. Prepare some muffin tins with paper muffin cups (I hate baking muffins without them yet I still don’t have any…why???) or grease the tins thoroughly. No matter how thoroughly you do this though, the muffins are always going to stick. Always. And it sucks. The muffin top comes out of the pan alright. But the bottom always gets left behind. So, moral of the story, make sure you have paper muffin cups! Do what I say and not what I do! Way to lead by example right?
Applesauce bran muffins
Ok, now it’s time to mix together the dry ingredients. That’s why I love the muffin method. Mix the wet separately, mix the dry separately, combine, bake. Simple as that. Combine the flour, baking powder and soda, salt and a hint of cinnamon. If you want to add the raspberries (or other fruit) you can do so here (if you didn’t mix it in with the bran). This way it gets coated in the flour which helps to retain it’s color.
Applesauce bran muffins
Portion into the muffin tins (it makes about a dozen). I opted to top mine with some oats because, well, I like oats. Proceed to bake at 350 F for about 25 minutes. Or until a toothpick comes out clean and they spring back when pressed lightly. Don’t jab your entire finger into the muffin for goodness sake! You would think that’s a given but I’ve seen it done before.
Cool and enjoy. I would/could/should probably eat bran muffins for breakfast everyday for the rest of my life. Love, love, love! Blueberry muffins? Meh. Banana muffins? Meh. Chocolate chip muffins? Meh. That’s a lie. But I would actually being enjoying the chocolate chips more than the muffin itself. Bran muffins however? 4 thumbs up from Mallory (big toes can count). Throw some gold stars in there too and you are set!
Applesauce bran muffins
PS: You see that half eaten muffin? Well due to the lack of muffin cups, I ripped it in half trying to remove it from the pan. And so I had to eat it. Not that I wouldn’t have eaten one anyways but I’m telling you, these things do happen. I don’t just make things up for fun, I’m here to help you. Then you can avoid making the same stupid little mistakes that I make and it’s all good. Unless you purposely want to make “faulty” products just so you have an excuse to eat them. In which case, go right ahead, be my guest. I admire your strategy, very clever.

Cinnamon Sourdough Bran Muffins

Weekly inventory shift at work. Check.

Wash, chamois and vacuum car. Check.

People stare as I do this on the side of the street. Check.

Random 12 year olds ask me for cigarettes (I reply that I do not smoke and neither should they). Check

So what is the next logical thing to do on a Sunday afternoon?

Bake cinnamon sourdough bran muffins, of course! Oh, and some caramels to but that recipe will come later. As for the muffins, delicious…and I would like to think that they are decently healthy as well.
Check times 2! But let’s not confuse this with the term “double check” as defined as “the act of checking again to ensure that something is correct”. PS. I didn’t even use dictionary.com for that, I came up with it all by myself…pretty legit, right?
Let us proceed with the muffins!

Cinnamon Sourdough Bran Muffins

sourdough bran muffins

Based upon the Blueberry Muffins recipe at sourdoughhome.com

Ingredients:

– 1 cup sourdough starter (and you thought it was just for making bread!)
– 1 egg
– 1/4 cup canola/veg oil
– 3/4 cup bran
– 1/4 cup flour
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1 tsp. baking soda
– 1/4 tsp. salt
– cinnamon and nutmeg, to taste

Preheat your oven to 425F and prepare a muffin tin by lining it with muffin cups or greasing it with oil/butter. Keep in mind the recipe makes 6-8 muffins, depending on the size.

sourdough bran muffins

The recipe says to mix the dry and wet ingredients separately before combining, but I threw it all together in one bowl and gave it a stir. Whichever way you choose, just make sure you don’t over mix. When you are making muffins, it is ok if there are still little bits of flour (obviously you don’t want huge clumps, but it does not have to be perfectly smooth).

sourdough bran muffins
sourdough bran muffins
If you compare my recipe to the original one, I substituted most of the flour for bran. However if you aren’t a fan of the bran, use 1 cup of white or whole wheat flour, or a combo of the two. You could also mix in around 1/2 cup of raisins, blueberries (as the original recipe did) or chocolate chips. Although you kind of lose the ability to classify them as “healthy” muffins. I get it though, sometimes you just want chocolate and you don’t give a crap! Which is basically every day of my life!
Then pour the batter into your prepared muffin tin and bake for 12-15 minutes. The recipe says they will take around 20 min. but I am not sure how this is possible at such a high temperature. If I would have left mine in that long they would have been burned to a crisp and drier than a popcorn fart! I just love saying that!
sourdough bran muffins
sourdough bran muffins
I would be curious to bake them at a lower temp (between 350-375) for a longer period to see the difference. Because of the sourdough in the batter, I think that the 425F idea is key in developing a nice, crunchy crust. Yet they still remain moist and soft on the inside. The sourdough flavor was not as prominent as I expected. It was actually much more subtle than the stench coming off of my starter. But smeared with some cherry jam, scrumptious!
sourdough bran muffins
And hey, you know your oven better than I do, so listen to your gut. If you think they are done, they probably are (the tooth pick trick is always reliable if you are unsure). If you see them burning, I would say you should do something about that. Don’t just stare at them and do nothing because the recipe said to keep them in for longer. Sounds pretty obvious right? You would be shocked at how many people stick to a recipe as if it were sacred and unchangeable. Unless everyone is cooking in the exact same conditions, at the exact same time, it is virtually impossible to create a concrete list of measurements and instructions to suit all situations. So the moral of my little rant is that deviation from your recipe is perfectly acceptable.
Well there are still a few things to check off of my to-do list for Sunday November 6, 2011. Ei. making and eating dinner (GRILLED CHEESE!).
sourdough bran muffins
sourdough bran muffins
sourdough bran muffins

I suppose I should take a shower too because *someone* told me I looked like a slob. You know who you are 😉 I love you anyways. The same goes for all of my readers! Thanks for stopping by. Hopefully you enjoy what I have to say and find it helpful, whether you are an experienced culinarian or you have never cooked a day in your life. Cheerio!
(not to be confused with “Cheerio’s” as defined as “the bite sized, “o” shaped cereal”)