January 8, 2012

Blueberry-banana muffins

So here we are in the early days of January.  The merry-making of the holiday season is over.  I'm bummed about that; I just love Christmastime with all the lights, decorations, parties and, of course, all the delicious food and treats.  Now in January, it appears we're left with the aftermath and it just doesn't feel right to sit here and write about rich desserts.  Everyone's cutting back and as much as I dislike the idea of dieting and excessive restraint, I, too, can tell that I might have enjoyed the holidays a teeny bit too thoroughly.
I'm not taking sweets or desserts out of my life - oh no.  I'm just taking it slow and practicing a little more restraint for a few weeks.  But I still have a strong urge to bake something all the time so I'm trying to focus on some lighter, more healthful choices.  So today, I'm making blueberry-banana muffins.  Two fruits in the title means it has to be good for you, right?  Yes!
This muffin not only has blueberries and bananas in it, it has other good stuff we can boast about too.  Wheat germ, for one.  And instead of just all-purpose flour, these muffins are made with a combination of whole wheat and all-purpose flour.  I use white whole wheat flour, which I think has a more subtle texture and flavor but still all the benefits of plain whole wheat.  Yes, there's still butter and sugar in this recipe.  Specifically, there's roughly 2/3 tablespoon of butter and less than one tablespoon of sugar per muffin.  And don't forget all the good stuff in there: blueberries, banana, wheat germ, whole wheat flour - and  we even use 2% low-fat milk!  So I think we can all have one of these on a January morning without any guilt.
The best part?  Other than they're better for you than the typical muffin, they taste really good!  The muffins are soft and moist, not heavy at all, and I love the little bit of grainy texture from the whole wheat flour and wheat germ.  I have to tell you I was tempted to sprinkle some sanding sugar on top of these just before they went into the oven but I restrained myself...and I think they are just sweet enough without it.  Now if you want to go ahead and do that though, I think it would be a good idea.

Once again, I made half the recipe since there's just the 3 of us and I just don't feel very comfortable knocking on anyone's door with baked goods right now.  In our experience, these muffins stayed moist for two days stored at room temperature and covered.  If you choose to make a full recipe (12 muffins), bear in mind you can freeze the extras.  Wrap them individually with plastic wrap and freeze in a freezer bag for up to 2 months.  Thaw them at room temperature, heat them until warm in a 300 degree oven, or split and toast them to eat.  I already have a few baked treats in my freezer so six muffins will do us quite nicely this time. 

To start, whisk the whole wheat and all-purpose flour, wheat germ, baking soda, and salt together.  I'm using white whole wheat flour and raw wheat germ (versus toasted).  I'm not altogether sure whether toasted wheat germ would be better here but since the recipe doesn't specify and I'm using it for baking, I'm going with the raw.  I had good results so I think raw is fine. 
In another bowl, mash the bananas (you need 3/4 cup for the full recipe) with a fork and stir some milk and vanilla extract into it (see bottom for full recipe).

This muffin recipe does call for using the mixer.  Beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Then, add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Turn the mixer speed to low and add the flour and banana mixture alternatively, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  As with any muffin  and most other batters for that matter, don't overmix once the flour has been added.  Once it comes together and you don't see streaks of flour, stop. 

Gently fold in the frozen blueberries.  I'm sure you could use fresh as well.  Scoop the batter into lined muffin tins.  I don't know if it just happens to me but I had an extra muffin.  Instead of six for half the recipe, it made 7...this happens all the time but I think I just need to fill them a bit more in most cases.  You could fill the muffin cups up near the top since they puff up with a dome and won't flow all over unless you seriously overfill them.  Either way though, an extra muffin or two is not a bad thing.   
Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for roughly 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Check early since mine were done closer to 22 minutes.  Let the muffins cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Happy breakfast!


Blueberry-Banana Muffins
From Martha Stewart

- Makes 12 muffins -

1 cup whole-wheat flour (or white whole wheat flour)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ripe bananas (3/4 cup mashed)
1/3 cup low-fat 2% milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup frozen blueberries

Preheat oven 375 degrees.  Line a 12-cup muffin pan with liners.

In a bowl, whisk together the flours, wheat germ, baking soda, and salt.  In another bowl, mash the bananas with a fork and stir in the milk and vanilla extract.

Beat butter and sugars together in a mixer until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  With the mixer on low, add flour mixture and banana mixture alternatively, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Mix until just combined.  Gently fold in the frozen blueberries with a rubber spatula.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tins.  Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean.  Cool muffins in the pan for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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