Saturday, February 18, 2012

Banana-Cranberry Muffins, A Tale of Two Pans

Better late than never, a couple of weeks ago, Gail made these banana-cranberry muffins. Boy were they delicious. But as you can see from the picture, half came out with a golden color on the bottom even though both muffins tasted the same. They went into the oven in two different pans, but went in on the same rack at the same time. The only difference was in the pan.

The lighter muffins were cooked in the aluminum pan pictured to the left. The aluminum pan is made by the Mirro Aluminum Company, which is no longer in business. The golden muffins were cooked in a non-stick, Wilton pan. I'm guessing the darker pan transmitted the heat more effectively resulting in the golden color.

Gail extended her normal muffin mix with bananas and cranberry sauce. The tartness of the cranberries was a good balance to the often cloying sweetness of banana muffins. Gail substituted half the bananas below with cranberry sauce.

Banana Bread or Banana Muffins
Freeze over-ripe bananas as they occur, make banana bread when you have 3.
Makes 1 loaf or 12 regular-sized muffins

1 batch basic muffin recipe (below)
⅓ c sugar
3 mashed ripe bananas (minimum 1½ c mashed)
  1. Make basic muffin recipe, increasing sugar by 1/3 c. Add bananas to completed batter.
  2. For bread, bake in loaf pan until tester comes out clean, about 1 hr. For muffins, bake in muffin tins 20 min.
  • Substitute orange juice for milk.
  • Add nuts, or chocolate or peanut butter chips (and bacon for Elvis bread!).

Basic Muffins
Add pretty much anything to these. Best made in small batches and served hot.
Makes 12 muffins

1 egg
3 T butter
1 c milk
2¼ c flour
½ c sugar
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
  1. Crack egg into shallow metal bowl to come to room temperature.
  2. Melt butter on stove-top over low heat just until melted. Meanwhile, prepare any fruit or other ingredients that will be mixed in.
  3. Remove melted butter from heat; stir in milk.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 F; grease muffin tin if serving muffins hot, else line with paper baking cups.
  5. Sift dry ingredients together (or pulse a few times in food processor with chopping blade), so liquid ingredients will mix in with minimal stirring.
  6. Beat egg; slowly whisk in milk and butter mixture, whisking constantly.
  7. Stir liquid quickly into dry ingredients just until combined; batter will be lumpy. Prolonged stirring will work up the gluten in the flour, which makes muffins tough.
  8. Add additional ingredients (see below), again minimizing stirring.
  9. Pour batter into prepared tins; bake until tester comes out clean. For bread, bake in loaf pan until tester comes out clean, about 1 hr. For muffins, bake in muffin tins 20 min.
  10. Cool muffins in tins 5 min; transfer to cooling rack. Some people cool muffins upside down, but this can make tops misshapen.
  11. Freeze any leftover muffins within 48 hr, or grill 3-day-old muffins in butter before serving.
Variations to mix in before baking:
  • Substitute applesauce or shaved apple for half of butter only if serving muffins right away, since fat keeps baked goods from drying out.
  • Substitute brown sugar for all or part of white sugar.
  • Substitute honey or molasses for sugar, but use half as much since they have much stronger flavors than sugar.
  • Substitute fruit juice for milk.
  • Add 1 t vanilla or lemon extract and/or 1 t mixture of cinnamon, clove, ginger or nutmeg to batter.
  • Add 1½ c chopped, crushed, diced, grated or mashed fruit (2-3 pieces), very well drained if necessary. If desired, toss fruit with 1 T sugar before mixing into batter. Increase sugar by ⅓c when adding fruit.
  • Add ½ c nuts and/or chocolate chips.
  • Sprinkle 1 T sugar or cinnamon sugar over muffins before baking.
  • For a truly decadent muffin, dip baked muffins in melted butter, then cinnamon sugar.
  • For savory muffins, add crumbled cheese and cooked bacon.

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