Burnt out on banana bread? Make muffins instead
Overripe bananas seem to keep multiplying on my kitchen counter. I was about to start another batch of banana bread when my daughter begged, “Please, not another loaf. Can you make muffins instead?” I thought she was just too lazy to cut slices, but she insisted she sincerely prefers muffins.
She has a point: Banana muffins aren’t just mini versions of bread. Because they bake much more quickly at a higher temperature, they’re fluffier than hearty, dense loaves. That makes them ideal for whole wheat flour, which tends to make slow-rising bread dry or heavy or both. Whole wheat has health advantages over white flour, but its real appeal is in its complex, almost nutty flavor, which pairs perfectly with the funky sweetness of bananas ripened to black.
Pecans complement that duo, especially when toasted and buttered as they are here. You get even more of their crunch and buttery richness because they bake on top of the muffins instead of softening in the batter. That extra touch makes these muffins more than just a way to use up bananas and transforms them into a breakfast that’s as delicious as dessert.
Butter Pecan Banana Muffins
Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 12 muffins
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
11/4 cups whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat a standard 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray or line with paper liners.
Spread the pecans on a small rimmed baking sheet and bake until toasted, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven, add the butter and toss until evenly coated. Cool on the sheet while preparing the batter.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Whisk the banana, sugar, buttermilk, oil, egg and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Fold gently with a silicone spatula until no traces of flour remain. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and sprinkle the tops of each with the buttered pecans.
Bake, rotating the tin halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 16 to 18 minutes. Cool the muffins in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then unmold. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Make ahead: The muffins can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw before reheating in a toaster oven or oven set to 350 degrees.
Spiced Banana Muffins: Add 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom to the flour mixture.
Nuttier Banana Muffins: Substitute toasted walnut or other nut oil for the vegetable oil. Stir 1 cup chopped toasted pecans into the batter before sprinkling the buttered nuts on top.
Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins: Stir 1 cup chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate into the batter.
If you don’t have buttermilk, mix 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice into 1/2 cup milk and let stand 5 minutes before using.
You can substitute granulated sugar for the brown sugar, which can be dark or light.
You can use whole wheat flour, white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour. You also can substitute 11/3 cups all-purpose flour.