August 27, 2011

Banana Nut Muffins

I was never a big soap opera fan and never got caught up in any of the story lines or characters of the main shows of the time, but for some reason during my last year of high school (I'm not divulging how long ago that was) I started watching an episode here and there of The Bold and the Beautiful, and got hooked.  I'm sure it didn't have anything to do with a certain dark-haired, manly, though perfectly coifed, main character with a jaw line you could slice cheese on.  There was just something mesmerizing about the show for me, and I was hooked for a year of two (what did he see in her...or her...I mean really!).  

So, what do banana nut muffins and a soap opera have in common?  Well, for some reason while baking and subsequently admiring these lovelies, that show title came to mind, and it seemed fitting...these banana muffins are definitely bold and beautiful, slightly addictive, somewhat nutty, and a great way to wind down in the afternoon with a cup of tea or coffee.  Where the muffins and show part company however is on Good For You Street (muffins good, ongoing daytime soapie emotional drama bad).    The muffins are packed with full-on, one might even say bold banana and toasted walnut flavors, carried on a sweet, moist and slightly dense (but not heavy) cloud of whole wheat goodness, and are blessed with a mesmerizing spice aroma and exterior that are, simply, beautiful.  However, unlike some other stars out there, these lovelies get their good looks, eh hem, naturally.

OK, so I admit to some minor photoshopping, but there was no airbrushing or reducing of waist sizes (or other types of enhancements shall we say) in any of the photos...simply minor touch-ups.  They really are beautiful all by themselves, and achieved their lovely domes without the use of any artificial elements (baking soda is natural, right?)

Although made with 100% whole wheat flours, they are surprisingly moist and tender.  You will forget about all the good-for-you ingredients packed in there once you take a bite, as these are simply tops in the flavor department...the good for you aspect is just a happy side bar.  The story line here is favorite bakery muffin, even though the credits roll with names like 'whole wheat pastry flour', 'olive oil', 'agave'.

I made both regular and jumbo-sized muffins.  You could also bake this in a loaf pan and serve in slices. I personally prefer the muffins or bread plain, but a thin skim of butter is also quite divine.  If you prefer a lighter texture in the muffin, half of the whole wheat could be substituted out for regular all-purpose flour.  I like the dense nature, though, as they then become, when paired with a warm cup of tea or coffee, or a cold glass of milk, a mini-meal, a healthy snack, a protein and fiber-rich, healthy carb breakfast, pre-exercise energy boost or school-run pick-me-up.  They can be celebrated so many ways!
Here they are posing for their close-ups...


As previously mentioned, the texture is definitely more quick-bread than cake-like.  I tried to capture the moist quality of the interior, with the little bits of banana, but the pictures really don't do them justice.  The yogurt in the recipe helps balance out some of the naturally heavier and drier nature of the whole wheat flour with some much-needed moisture.  I also use a high quantity of bananas for both flavor and moisture.  It is important not to over-bake these as they don't brown as much when using a high proportion of whole wheat flour, so you have to take them out when only just done (use a wooden skewer) and not when they look done.  And you are sifting your dry ingredients, right?  It helps make a lighter, more airy crumb.

The coconut oil adds just a hint of 'tropical' to these muffins that most people are hard-pressed to identify, but they just know they taste good.  You could certainly use butter if you prefer or if you don't have any coconut oil, but coconut oil is also a heart-healthy fat (along with the olive oil), so I urge you to give it a try.  I mean, dear friends, I worked hard to substitute out a whole stick of butter out of the original recipe.

The toasted walnuts and spices are the necessary bling here, or the dramatic music equivalent in the show. They bring a flavor complexity and warmth that would be so missed if they weren't there.  Think soap opera without the da-da-daaaaaaaaaaaaa moments.  The nuts also add protein and some heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, but I prefer to refer to them as muffin bling...much more glamorous (but still healthy and good for you).  And I simply love freshly grated nutmeg and ground coriander in just about everything these days.  The smells and flavors are intoxicating (more where-were-you-20-years-ago kind of things that I've recently discovered and am now totally enamored with).

Bold and beautiful banana nut muffins.  Bake will be hooked, a fan, who knows...maybe even a groupie. 

Banana Nut Muffins:

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup natural sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon banana extract (it's not cheating, I just like LOTS of banana flavor)
4 medium very ripe bananas (black skin is good), at least 1 1/2 cups mashed
1/4 cup agave
2 large organic eggs
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt (not no-fat)
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or just use two cups total of whatever flour combination you like)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 to 1/4 freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup toasted walnut pieces

Toast the walnut pieces in a 350 degree oven until lightly brown and fragrant, about 15 to 20 minutes (watch carefully).  Set aside.

Cream the butter and natural sugar in a mixing bowl at medium speed for about 5 minutes.  While the butter is beating, melt the coconut oil in a small bowl.  After five minutes of beating, reduce the mixer to low and add the coconut oil, olive oil, and extracts.  Beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beater as necessary.  Add the bananas, pulled apart into pieces, one by one.  Add the agave and yogurt.  Add the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition.  Sift all the dry ingredients including spices onto a piece of wax paper.  Lift up the paper, forming a chute, and add to the wet ingredients, beating on slow, and mixing until only just blended.  Do not over mix.  Stir in 3/4 cup of the chopped walnuts.  Scoop into jumbo muffin cups, regular muffin pans, or loaf pans; you can fill pretty close to the top as they don't spread.  Remember to use muffin papers or to grease your pans.  Top with the remaining nuts.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 to 30 minutes for the jumbo muffins, about 20 minutes for the smaller muffins.  Bake only until a wooden skewer just comes out dry.  Cool in the pan on a rack for just five minutes, then remove from the pans (for muffins).  Cool for 10 to 15 minutes for the loaf pans.  Remove to a rack to finish cooling (or eat warm).


  1. These muffins looks healthy delicious. I really like these just as they are, whole weat and everything.

  2. Hi Kim! Thanks for stopping by. They are really yummy...the healthy part is just an added benefit ;-)

  3. They look great! I love the idea of adding so many spices to your muffins :)

  4. Hi Chinmayie! Thank you so much for your comments, and I totally agree with you about the spices. They just add such a great flavor. I can't seem to get enough ground coriander these days. What a great spice...fabulous in sweet baked goods, and lovely in savory dishes as well (not to mention good for us too)!

  5. Beautiful work -- I love wholemeal muffins and as my blog name suggests, I also love spicing things up as much as possible. We're kindred muffin spirits I guess :)

    Anyhow, love your photos and this is a recipe I'll be making as soon as banana prices go back to normal here!

  6. Hi Yasmeen! So glad to see a kindred spice and wholemeal muffin spirit!
    Thanks so much for the generous comments, and I am sorry to hear that the bananas are so dear where you are. I hope they become more reasonable soon!

  7. These muffins look great. Banana is my fav fruit to bake with and these sound perfect for my mornings. Love all the spices.

  8. These look just wonderful :) Such a perfectly smile-inducing little muffin and gorgeous flavour combos, the spices sound divine! Lovely recipe :)

  9. I love a flavorful muffin with nuts. It looks delish

  10. love your pictures!! the muffins look scrumptious... and healthy. may make some for this Friday's coffee break (in Sweden we have this tradition of having coffee and cake at work, every Friday afternoon). I think I will use Manitoba flour. have a nice day.

  11. Everytime I look at a banana muffin recipe, I curse my luck that I can't have any- I'm allergic to banana or so I think. What would I give to have a bite of your "bold and the beautiful" (can't believe the show is still on) banana muffins- love that they are whole wheat and the coriander in it intrigues me. Perfect dome shape- somehow I rarely get the dome shape on my muffins-whats the trick?

  12. Banana nut muffin is the most versatile of all the muffins at least for my household.Even better with the added touch of coconut n olive oil and I of course prefer wholewheat any day! Fabulous pictures too!

  13. These look healthy and love the spice combo u used. Nice presentation.

  14. Hey Shumaila! I'm so sorry to hear about the allergy ;-( I know, I can't believe the show is still alive and well, even with some of the original actors! I've found I have to have the leaveners just so or the muffins won't rise, and it really helps to use a cookie or ice cream scoop (the round ones with the little lever). Gives you a jump on the shape. When I start tinkering with the recipes and start switching in more whole wheat, you sometimes need as much as one tablespoon of baking powder to get the correct rise.

    Hello Aipi! Thank you so much for your nice comments. I can add or subtract ingredients based upon the preferences. Also, if any family members don't like the nuts, I usually grind them up (being careful not to make 'butter' out of them, and sneak them in with the rest of the batter for the health benefits and the flavor.

    Howdy Kankana! Very appreciative of the generous comments. The healthy part in this recipe is what I like to call 'stealthy healthy' wouldn't guess they were 'healthified'. ;-)

    Thank you all for coming by! So great to hear from EVERYONE!

  15. Barbara...I forgot to ask you what Manitoba flour is (I'm going to Google it right now). And by the way, what a lovely tradition to have. I could get used to that!

    Myfudo and Procrastobaker...thanks so much for stopping by for a visit and leaving such much-appreciated comments!

    Hi Tanvi! I love them in baked goods, but funnily enough could take them or leave them fresh (weird, I know).

  16. OK, so for anyone else interested, it would appear that Manitoba flour is the equivalent of bread flour in the US, with a high gluten content. Wow, I have never heard of this, but am glad to learn something new!

  17. I love how beautifully golden they are! And they look very tender, too. Give me anything bananas and I'm in heaven!

  18. Gorgeous muffins! They are so beautiful and tempting.



  19. Hello Patricia! So great to 'see' you! And thank you for the lovely comments.

    Hey Rosa! So glad you came by for a visit as well...I appreciate the kind comments. Cheers!

  20. Lovely muffin, It will be a sure hit with my kids.
    Lovely pictures and I luv your teapot...

  21. Hi Reem! Thank you, thank you! I hope the kiddos like them, and yes, I'm rather partial to the tea pot as well (the best part is I found it on clearance, so even more adorable ;-)

  22. Whole wheat flour works wonderfully with bananas. I use white whole wheat flour a lot too. Fools the kids...somewhat. Love all the bold flavours going on and I love that you have used agave too. Will have to make these soon. Great photos too!

  23. My hubby loves banana nut muffins! I've got to try this recipe. Love the spices you've incorporated :)


So glad you came by! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!