You’ll agree, I think, that when it comes to baked goods, banana bread is an invasive species. It’s ubiquitous in bakeries. It’s the thing non-bakers make. And in my kitchen, it’s what happens when my brain is overwhelmed with other recipes. It’s a centering device of sorts, and this week, between a gazillion recipes for canned black beans, recipes for the Pike Place Market cookbook, and some serious soul-searching about holiday cookies, I’ve needed something grounding.
This version—okay, it’s a muffin, not banana bread, but they’re practically kissing cousins—started with granola. I’ve been loving the stuff from a new local brand, Hooting Owl Granola. (Owls are hip right now, you know.) I called the owner to find out more, and she told me she’s coming out with a new flavor called The Seedy Side of Things, made with a top-secret mix of fun seeds (think chia, hemp, etc.). It made me start pawing through my pantry. Seedy muffins, I thought. Then my neighbor dropped off a hunk of chocolate chip banana bread, and those half-dead bananas started whining at me from the fruit basket. There wasn’t much choice.
I thought it might be a great first cooking project for me and Graham. He’s watched me cook, for sure, but hasn’t participated much. I assumed all those great sounds—millet bouncing off the side of a mixing bowl, a whisk whacking back and forth—might hold his attention. I suppose I also thought that having him witness the physical combination of such wholesome ingredients could erase the fact that I fed him fish sticks for breakfast yesterday in the car.
We talked about it. We banged the muffin pans together, and I explained everything about making big muffins for mommy and little muffins for Graham. We started off okay, but about 14 seconds in, somewhere between measuring the all-purpose flour and putting it into the bowl, dumping Cheerios off the side of his high chair proved a much more entertaining endeavor for my son. So it goes.
To be fair, these shouldn’t really be called seedy muffins, because they’re mostly full of grains—good-for-you things like millet, cornmeal, and those teensy weensy camelina seeds, which are absurdly rich in antioxidants considering their size. But somehow, “seeds” seemed easier to explain to Graham than “whole grains.”
So as a bonding experience, these were a complete failure. But nutritious? Sure. A good use for dying bananas? Certainly. And Graham had two (almost including the paper) without blinking. Maybe he’s ready for The Little Red Hen.
Seedy Sour Cream-Banana Muffins (PDF)
I’m not typically a big fan of muffins with lots of stuff in them, but this banana version, which depends on camelina seeds, millet, and cornmeal for crunch, is something I’d eat every day. They’re miraculously ungreasy, and the omega-3s in the camelina seeds allow you to feel virtuous for eating two (or three). If you can’t find camelina, substitute raw quinoa.
TIME: 30 minutes
MAKES: This recipe makes enough batter for 12 unlined muffins tins, heaped full, or 12 lined muffins plus 12 lined mini-muffins.
Vegetable oil spray or muffin liners
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup raw millet
1/4 cup camelina seeds
1/4 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar (or up to 3/4 cup, to taste)
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup canola oil
2 very ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with the vegetable oil spray (or line a 12-cup tin and a 12-cup mini tin with cupcake liners), and set aside.
Stir the flours, millet, camelina seeds, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and brown sugar together in a big bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk the sour cream, milk, eggs, and vanilla to blend. Add the oil and bananas, and stir until smooth.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir to blend. (The batter will be thick.) Divide the batter between the muffin cups—a heaping 1/4 cup for regular (lined) muffins, or heaping tablespoons for mini muffins. The batter won’t rise much, so don’t be shy. Sprinkle the muffins generously with turbinado sugar. Bake 20 to 25 minutes for regular muffins, or 15 to 18 minutes for mini muffins, or until the muffins are puffed and firm to the touch in the center. Cool 5 minutes in pans, and enjoy warm, if possible. Store any remaining (cooled) muffins in an airtight container at room temperature, up to three days.