23 January 2010

big beautiful banana muffins


My love affair with America's Test Kitchen continues with a recipe for muffins. The basic recipe is plain with options for various flavors, and I chose the banana. A couple changes I made were to replace half of the flour with white whole wheat, not subbing brown sugar for the white, and not adding walnuts, though I used slightly more than the amount of finely diced banana called for to make up for it. That's right, the bananas weren't mashed, and I kind of like that.


Using yogurt as the liquid, along with eggs and melted butter, the recipe whips up quickly and even can be made a) ahead of time, and b) ahead of time and frozen in pre-portioned "cups" for future baking, which I'll be trying out later for the sake of testing.

The texture is moist, spongy, and soft. It didn't have a mouth-melting quality of a muffin made where the butter is beaten with sugar, it was light and good for what a muffin should be.

To make the crowns large and domed, the same Once Upon a Tart principle of filling the tins to just below the top is implemented with the ATK muffins. I still wasn't quite pleased with the overall height, though I figured I slightly overmixed the batter since didn't have the correct egg size and used 2 tablespoons less butter because I didn't want to cut into another stick, so I quickly beat a third medium size egg with a few tablespoons of milk and stirred that in. I wouldn't say it was really overmixed, but it probably was just by a bit. I also got 17 muffins instead of the 12 they said, most likely due again to the extra additions. I didn't see when they said to fold the extra ingredients into the batter, but I'm assuming it's before all the wet and dry ingredients have been folded together properly (a few light streaks of flour should remain).

One mistake I realized I made was that the recipe says to mix the wet ingredients with dry just until combined, then fold in melted butter. Obviously, I did not do this, and they make no explanation for why this method differs. This only means I'll have to make even more to see what happens.


I had a little ATL experiment of my own, one I've noticed in the past, too. Whenever there isn't enough batter to fill all of the cups in the muffin tin, I fill the empty cups halfway with water. I notice the muffins in the tin with water tend to have a higher crown than those in tins filled with all batter, even though the steam should hit all of them. Interesting.

Also, I notice that if the muffins come out at a certain height, after cooling they fall down a bit, even if cooked completely. Is this a steam being released thing going on?

Edit: These were delicious. Not too sweet, yet a perfectly accented banana flavor. I already noted the texture above. Here are some previously blogged banana bread recipes: black-and-white banana loaf, GT's banana bread, Mom's favorite banana bread.

Anyway, I have a few more recipes I've made that I need to blog about. If I don't, I certainly will talk about it. I may get them all out of the way in one sweet post. In the meantime, enjoy the recipe for muffins after the jump.

big beautiful banana muffins
Recipe from The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

Makes 12

ingredients ~
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk or low-fat yogurt
2 large eggs
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups finely diced bananas

directions ~
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 370 degrees. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin.

  2. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt together in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk the yogurt and eggs together until smooth. Gently fold the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula until just combined, then fold in the melted butter. This is where, maybe along with the butter, I'm guessing you also fold in the bananas.

  3. Using a greased 1/3-cup measure, portion the batter into each muffin cup. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out with just a few crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking time.

  4. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then flip out onto a wire rack, and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.



  1. Having water in some of the cups may slow the warming time of the pan. Since metallic pans are excellent conductors of heat, the entire thing should stay below (or at least not significantly above) 212F until all the water has evaporated. Perhaps the heating delay has some effect on crown height.

  2. So, how did it taste? Was it the first time you made banana muffins? Have you ever had banana muffins before, and if so, how did your recipe compare to what you had before?

    Also, I didn't see any vanilla in your recipe. Is vanilla ever used in muffins? I found that vanilla can accentuate 'sweetness' in a recipe.

  3. Greg ~ Thanks! I can see how the delayed heat might somehow make the crowns rise before the insides have a chance to set? Or something like that.

    Jogger ~ These had to be the worst muffins I've ever made in my life. Furthermore, both banana bread recipes I've blogged about previously were probably better, but I can't remember since it's been a while. Thirdly, these were quicker. The taste wasn't too sweet, yet the banana flavor was accented enough to stand out.

    I also noticed a lack of vanilla, but didn't feel I was missing anything in the finished muffin. If I make these again, I'll add some just for the sake of testing it out.

    In chocolate chip cookies I've begun adding about 2-3 teaspoons vanilla extract and letting the dough rest overnight. It melds and creates a depth of flavors with the caramel notes.

  4. Nice edit, Christina. :rolleyes:

    If they were that tasty, you would have said "They were delicious!!!!!!!!!!"

  5. I love CI recipes too! I really enjoy reading your posts and thoughts. I find it weird that CI would tell us to fold in the melted butter, wouldn't that make us overmix more easily?


Thanks for taking the time to comment. Your thoughts are appreciated! ^,^


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