Thursday, August 25, 2011

Banana Muffins with Pecan Crumb Topping

Today I made the last banana muffin recipe you will ever need. No really, if I had the metabolism of my marathon runner sister-in-law I would have promptly inhaled every one of these hot out of the oven. My husband would have wandered into the kitchen when the oven dinged to find my face covered in crumbs, a guilty, but blissful look on my face.

I've known for a long time that if I could choose a bizarre superpower it would be the ability to eat anything I want and still be healthy and not get fat. Given this power, I might crush the world's banana market just for this recipe. Have other people around to help you eat these or if you are Kimberly don't. You've been warned.

Banana Muffins with Pecan Crumb Topping
(adapted from MizzNezz's recipe) 
Yields 12 muffins

For the Batter:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 ripe medium to large bananas, mashed with fork
1/3 cup butter (a little over 5 tbsp.), melted
1 egg beaten

For the Topping:

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon cold butter
1/4 -1/2 cup chopped pecans (I used 1/4 cup this time, but I could easily see doubling the amount)

1. For the batter, mix all the dry ingredients except the sugars together. In a separate bowl mix the sugars, bananas, melted butter and egg. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined.

2. For the topping, mix the sugar, cinnamon, and flour together. Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Add the pecans.

3. Fill 12 well-greased muffin tins with the batter. (Depending on the size of your bananas they'll be 3/4 or more full.) Sprinkle the topping over the top. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. These are super moist muffins so I would remove them from the tin and cool on a rack so they don't get soggy.

A Few Tips for Newbie Muffin Bakers
(These are things I wish someone had told me before I baked my first batch of muffins way back when.)

1. The secret to a fluffy, tender muffin is to not overdevelop the gluten in the flour. That's why wet and dry ingredients are always kept separate in muffin recipes until the last step. Your goal is to stir as little as possible to combine the wet and dry ingredients. The batter should stay pretty lumpy. Resist the urge to pummel it until smooth.

2. My first couple of attempts at crumb toppings failed miserably. I hacked at the mixture with a fork until I had a buttery paste. Don't do this! You want small balls of butter mixed with the dry ingredients. The easiest way to achieve this is with a pastry blender, a simple 5 dollar tool that will save you a load of work in many baking situations (I use mine for biscuits all the time). If you don't have one handy you can cut the butter into very small pieces and stir it with the dry ingredients.

3. Brown sugar and granulated sugar can be substituted for each other on a 1 to 1 basis, just make sure the brown sugar is tightly packed. Brown sugar also adds moisture and a molasses flavor, which I personally love.

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