Thursday, October 20, 2011

Apple-Banana Bran Muffins

I wish I could tell you that this recipe came from some free-willed creative vision I had.  That it came to me while standing on top of a snow-capped mountain looking over a breathtaking vista, or while meditating in a peaceful buddhist sanctuary, and suddenly a vision of Apple-Banana Bran Muffins manifested in my third eye and my destiny was found to create them.

No, not so much.  But that sure sounds nice.

In actuality, this recipe came up because of two very common predicaments that home cooks encounter all the time.
The first is this: you bought an ingredient for a certain recipe and have more leftover after you're done that you'll need to use up; What the heck to do with it besides the make the same recipe again?
The second:  There's something in your fridge or on your countertop that has Father Time working against it, and you've gotta use it up.  Or else into the garbage it goes, unused and unloved.  So sad.  Too sad.  So something has to be done.

So this recipe, you could say, came from necessity.  And don't they say that Necessity is the Mother of Invention? (you know, they)  And if I do say, it is very true in this case.  The two culprits in this case were the end of a quart of buttermilk and some very brown bananas.  And we're talking brown bananas, people.  Every day I would come home from work and I would see the bananas hanging sadly from the banana hook in our kitchen.  I would reluctantly glance at them out of the corner of my eye, blocking out their pleas that sounded something like: "Eat me! Use me! Do SOMETHING!  I can barely hold on anymore!"  It got ugly.  So, like I said with what happens in these situations, something had to be done.

And hence the birth of this recipe.  It makes one fantastic batch of muffins, and one of the reasons I enjoy it so much is that is actually makes a hearty, tasty muffin, not a cupcake disguised as a muffin, as so many muffins are these days.  There are not pounds of sugar in it, nor cups of oil - only 3 tablespoons! - so a majority of the sweetness and the moist crumb come from the ripe bananas, with a fun addition of the sweet studs of apples amidst the batter.  The buttermilk adds great flavor and tenderness, and with nutrition-rich additions of whole wheat flour, wheat or oat bran (use either!), and walnuts if you dig 'em, you can eat these muffins and feel super powered.  Breakfast on the go?  No problem.  Do it and rock it.  In fact, make a bunch and throw em in your freezer.  Then they'll be ready for you whenever you need them.

How's that for turning a sour situation into a sweet success?  

Apple-Banana Bran Muffins
Use any level of overripe banana here, from brown speckled to deep, dark doom.  The latter may look ugly, perhaps even dangerous, but these intensely overripe bananas are disguised pieces of gold, with even more flavor from their developed sugars than a just slightly overripe banana.  Waste not want not! 

Also, I found myself without wheat bran in the middle of making this batter - oops - so I improvised and blended some old-fashioned oats into a fine powder and it worked perfectly.  So wheat bran, oat bran, or a Macgyver-ed, on-the-fly oat bran of blended oats will do just fine.  


  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas, (2-3 naners)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup unprocessed wheat bran or oat bran 
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil or melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup small diced apple
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.
  • Whisk eggs and brown sugar in a medium bowl until smooth. Whisk in bananas, buttermilk, wheat (or oat) bran, oil and vanilla.
  • Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the dry ingredients; add the wet ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined. Stir in apples. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups (they’ll be quite full). Sprinkle with walnuts, if using.
  • Bake the muffins until the tops are golden brown and spring back when touched lightly, 15 to 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Loosen edges and turn muffins out onto a wire rack to cool slightly before serving.

  • Adapted from EatingWell Magazine

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