Banana muffins

Do you have two blackened bananas sitting in your fruit bowls just crying out to be turned into banana bread? Yes, then this is the post for you.
Every year in the UK we throw out 6.7 million tonnes of food, most of which could have been eaten. 40% of this is fresh fruit and vegetables (and bananas are in the top 5 fruit and veg we throw away). These facts are just a few of the facts on Love food, hate waste campaign website. The website is jam packed with ideas and tips for reducing waste and saving money as well as lots of great recipes for using up leftovers.

I’ve blogged in the past about some of the ways I reduce waste which as a nice side effect also saves money. For example making the most of a chicken, meal planning and using this as a basis for a shopping list and freezing leftovers. There are also a growing number of cook books on the market about making the most of the food we buy. The basic principle most of these book encourage is buying the best quality food you can afford and making sure you get the best out of it and don’t waste any. One such book is The new English Kitchen by Rose Prince which is full of tips and recipes to help you get the most of the food you buy. It covers everything from baking your own bread, making your own stock, cooking with cheaper cuts of meat and the principle of making food in to more than one meal. Another similar book is The thrifty cookbook 476 ways to eat well with leftovers by Kate Colquhoun. These two books aren’t full of mouth watering colour photographs of the recipes but instead they are packed full of great advice and recipe ideas and the authors passion for food and making the most of it are evident.

The other day I had a very sad looking fruit bowl, a couple of blackened bananas and a few apples that had seen better days. So I decided to turn the bananas in to banana bread and the apples combined with a few cooking apples I stewed and turned in to a crumble. For the crumble topping I used a mixture of the left over topping (stored in the freezer) from making the blueberry muffins, porridge oats and broken up pecan nuts. The crumble was delicious served with some natural yogurt. The banana muffins were also very tasty and a great nutritious treat to add to our lunch boxes. Kate gives a basic banana cake recipe in her book and lists a few variations. I have adpted the recipe by halving the amount of sugar in the original recipe. I like mine with mixed spice and chopped nuts to give it plenty of flavour and the nuts give a bit of texture. I have made it as a loaf and as muffins and I love both. Two delicious treats from one neglected fruit bowl.

Banana cake
Adapted from The thrifty cookbook

2 bananas, past there best, the blacker the better. Mashed with a fork.
1 egg
130g Self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
55g very soft butter
50g caster sugar

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 tsp mixed spice

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Line a small loaf tin, about 22x12cm. Lining with parchment paper to make the cake easier to remove.
  • Put all the ingredients in a bowl, mix together and combine well with a fork. Depending on how mushy the bananas are, you might need to add a dessertspoon of warm water or milk to give the mixture a thick dropping consistency.
  • Put the whole lot in the loaf tin and bake for 35-40 minutes. If the cake gets too brown on top, you might need to cover it with a piece of foil for the last 5 minutes or so.
  • When a fine metal skewer or piece of raw spaghetti poked into the centre comes out clean the cake is done. Let it cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edges to loosen them and turn the cake out on to a wire rack to cool.
  • Alternatively, you could spoon the mixture into a muffin tray lined with paper cases, in which case reduce the cooking time to 15-20 minutes.

The best blueberry muffin recipe?

This might just be the most delicious blueberry muffin recipe around. It’s from Ottolenghi the cookbook. If you haven’t seen this cookbook it is definitely worth a read. The baking section alone is fantastic but there are also lots of delicious sounding/looking vegetable, meat and fish dishes. This is the first recipe I have tried from the book and it was a difficult choice picking which one to try first. The pictures throughout the book are absolutely stunning and will have your mouth watering. My copy at the moment is from my local library but it is definitely going on my wish list of books I want to own.

I baked these the other day and they are simply delicious. They taste of blueberries, lemon and a hint of apple and they have a delicious crumble topping. Like all muffin recipes they are simple to make. The trick is to keep stirring to a minimum when mixing the wet and dry ingredients together. There should still be some unmixed lumps. The recipe says it should make 10-12 muffins. I ran out of muffin cases after making 6 and the mixture went on to make a further 18! mini muffins. I think even if I hadn’t run out of muffin cases it would have made a few more than 12.

Blueberry crumble muffins
Ottolenghi the cookbook

300g plain flour
100g caster sugar
200g cold butter, cut into small cubes

  • Put the flour, sugar and butter in a bowl and mix with your hands to work into a uniform breadcrumb consistency. Make sure there are no lumps of butter left.
  • Transfer to a plastic container. It will keep it the fridge for up to 5 days or for ages in the freezer.

Blueberry crumble muffins
Makes 10-12

540g plain flour
5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 free-range eggs
340g caster sugar
140g unsalted butter, melted
380ml milk
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 Granny Smith apple (unpeeled), cut into 1cm dice
200g fresh blueberries, plus a few extra for the topping.
1/2 quantity of crumble

  • Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas mark 3. Line a muffin tray with paper cases.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, lightly whisk together the eggs, sugar and melted butter (make sure it is not too hot). Whisk in the milk and lemon zest, then gently fold in the fruit.
  • Add the sifted dry ingredients and fold together very gently. Make sure you stir just enough to combine; it should remain lumpy and rough.
  • Spoon the mixture into muffin cases to fill them up. Generously cover with the crumble topping to form small domes over the batter, then dot with a few extra blueberries. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean. Take out of the tins while still warm.