Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Banana Day

I am in the midst of some serious freezer organization, attempting to stock meals in the freezer for when the new baby comes. My primary objective is to occupy as much of the freezer as possible with homemade dinners, ready to defrost, reheat and enjoy. In my first survey of the freezer, I found it brimming with frozen meats, forgotten store bought conveniences, and uh… frozen bananas. Do you do this? Whenever bananas are “on their way out” I stash them in the freezer until they reach a critical mass for banana muffins or banana bread. So there I was with a bowl full of black skinned defrosted bananas. Converting these into a more valuable freezer commodity seemed like the low hanging fruit on my freezer project.

The first step was measuring the amount of mashed bananas from my freezer stash. My recipe of choice is banana chocolate chip muffins, adapted from a Joy of Cooking recipe. I actually had enough to make muffins and try a banana sandwich bread recipe from the Tasajara Bread book… the day and my kitchen took on a delicious and unmistakable banana fragrance.

To foil or not to foil? In addition to saving money by not tossing old or half eaten bananas I also wanted to see if I could eek out any additional savings by avoiding a muffin tin liner. Muffins with and without the liner both turned out a beautiful golden brown, though overall the buttering and flouring of the muffin tin, in addition to the gentle extraction after baking, made the unlined muffins a bit more fussy. So, hey if you have the liners on hand go ahead and use them but if you are looking to avoid another item on your grocery list they are easy enough to do without.

Below is the adapted banana muffin recipe, which we eat around here as a dessert and yummy breakfast treat. I will have to post again about the banana sandwich bread which was also tasty and made wonderful French toast later in the week.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

If your bananas are coming from the freezer take them out the day or night before and place the bananas (with peel still on) in a bowl to avoid a watery mess on your counters. If possible, have ingredients at room temperature before you start. Also, feel free to vary the amount of all-purpose flour with whole wheat for a more wholesome and hearty muffin.

Servings: 20+ muffins
Cost: $4.28 ($0.19 per muffin)
Time: 15-20 minutes assembly, 20-22 minutes baking, total 35-45 minutes

2 2/3 cups organic unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder

6 2/3 T unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups (about 4) mashed very ripe bananas

1+ cup chocolate chips (up to your discretion)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour muffin tin or place liners in tin. Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate large bowl, beat butter and sugar on high speed until lightened in color and texture, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the flour mixture until the consistency of brown sugar. Gradually beat in the eggs and fold in the mashed bananas and chocolate chips until just combined. Use a spoon or small measuring cup to fill approximately ¼ cup batter into each muffin. Bake for 20-22 minutes until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let muffins cool in the pan for 2-5 minutes, before removing to a wire rack. Muffins freeze well in foil, saran wrap, zip lock combination for 6-8 weeks. Just in time for baby.

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