Posted by: Erin | August 15, 2010

Spellcheck Apparently Dislikes The Word “Streusel”

Last weekend, I discovered that the bananas I’d bought, intended for cereal, were going soft really fast. I decided, on a whim, to make banana walnut muffins. Everyone I know who bakes seems to say that just-past-ripe bananas are best for baking. I’ve never tried it before, so I thought that was as good a time as any.

I put together the dry ingredients from the Cooking Light recipe I was modifying (Banana Nut Muffins with Oatmeal Streusel), and moved onto the wet ingredients. I peeled open one banana, and much to my dismay, it was definitely past “just-past-ripe” stage. I tossed the bananas, and, because I’d only gotten the dry ingredients together, put the lid on my lovely Pyrex bowl (one of my best kitchen purchases ever), and moved the bowl off to the sideboard. I went grocery shopping last week and bought a few bananas, intending to let two of them ripen and then finish the muffins.

Today was the day! The bananas were past the “eating-with-cereal” stage, but looked to be in perfect shape for baking. I mixed up the wet ingredients, added them to the dry ones, and then threw in what was probably close to a cup of chopped walnuts into the batter (rather than 1/4 cup the recipe calls for) and roughly a cup of semisweet chocolate chips. (I also replaced the whole wheat flour with regular flour, as that’s what I had.) I didn’t bother with the streusel topping – I’d never intended to – so once the walnuts and chocolate chips were mixed in, I scooped the batter into the waiting muffin tray and liners. (Super useful tip: use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop up the batter into the muffin tray. Especially when dealing with a batter that has chunks of something in it, this allows you to transfer a reasonable amount of batter but without the annoying dripping and dropping that usually happen when I use a tablespoon or other semi-flat spoon.)

The recipe claims it will make 12 muffins, but I managed to fill the 12 muffin tray liners all the way to the top and I still had some batter left. Assuming this was because I put in more walnuts and chocolate chips than the recipe was expecting, I thought perhaps that’s why there was more batter, so I filled four more cups about 2/3 of the way, and put all 16 into the oven.

25 minutes later, I pulled the muffins out of the oven. They looked nice, but they weren’t browned at all on the top, the way I’m used to muffins looking. They also didn’t rise nearly as much as I expected either – they didn’t even fill out to the sides and top of the liners. I found this odd, but a toothpick came out clean from three different muffins, so I presumed they were done.

After letting them cool for a bit (while my apartment still smelled like flour and bananas), I tried one. On the whole, I am pleased. There’s lots of chocolate, which makes me happy. However, when I went to peel off the paper liner, this happened:

I’m not sure if it’s because of the type of batter, or the length of time in the oven, or if I should just learn to spray the paper liners with a little cooking spray before I put batter in them. The muffins still taste good, so it doesn’t matter all that much, but I do feel like this is a borderline baking fail. If anyone has any thoughts on avoiding this problem in the future, please let me know!

UPDATE: It seems that not all of the muffins are totally fused to the liners. ‘Tis still a mystery.

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