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Friday, September 18, 2009

Banana Apple Muffins with Cinnamon Walnut Crunch

I am in a strange sort of limbo this week. I felt so clever when I put in my two weeks notice so that my last ho-hum day at my ho-hum office job would be one week before my first happy day at my first happy pastry place.

Having this time off seemed utterly divine and blissful as I was looking forward to it. I envisioned myself spending my days lounging on the couch, enrobed in fine linens while nibbling bonbons, with not a care in the world…

But, when Monday actually rolled around, the reality of it all was quite annoying. I realized that my couch isn’t very comfortable, I don’t have fine linens to wrap myself in, and eating too many bonbons gave me a splitting headache and made me cranky. Oh yeah, and I was lonely.

So, I did what makes me feel better…I baked something. And for me, there is really nothing cozier than baking muffins.

I had some over-ripe bananas and some lovely pink lady apples around, so I decided to put that combo together and sprinkle the top with a tasty cinnamon-walnut crunch. Luckily, these muffins cheered me up and were just as wonderful as I had imagined.

Banana Apple Muffins with Cinnamon Walnut Crunch
Makes 12 muffins

For the muffins:
3 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
1 pink lady apple, chopped into ¼ inch dice (I like the skin on, but do whatever makes you happy)
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup cinnamon apple instant oatmeal (or any flavor you like…if you don’t have this around, you can just add an additional ¼ cup of flour instead)
¾ cup brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ stick of butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cups milk (I used 1%)
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Cinnamon Walnut Crunch:
*This makes more than you’ll need…use the rest to much on or put on top of yogurt.
1 egg white
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped walnuts

To make the Cinnamon Walnut Crunch:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Whisk egg white until frothy, then whisk in sugar and cinnamon. Fold in the nuts. Spread on parchment-lined sheet tray and bake for ~12 minutes, until beginning to dry. Stir to break up nuts. Continue to bake until nuts and coating are dry and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Cool and finely chop.

To make the Banana Apple Muffins:

Turn up the oven to 350 degrees (after the walnut crunch is done). In a large bowl, combine the flours, oatmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger and salt and whisk to mix well. In another large bowl, combine the mashed bananas, melted but cooled butter, milk, eggs and vanilla and mix well.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour the banana mixture into the well and stir gently with a rubber spatula. Mix only until there are no more streaks of flour or pools of liquid and the batter looks fairly smooth. A few small lumps scattered throughout are fine. Gently fold in the apple pieces until evenly distributed.

Grease muffin tin or line with 12 paper liners. Fill each spot ¾ full with batter. Sprinkle Cinnamon Walnut Crunch evenly on top. Bake muffins for ~17-20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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