Two seriously overripe bananas lingering in the fruit bowl looking out of place among the volumes of winter citrus of sparkling clementines and bitter oranges I stocked up on to marmalade make. No one feels like milk shakes nor cold breakfasts of fruit. There’s only one thing to do, make something hearty and warm to use those fibre-packed bananas now bursting their blackened skins. I spy the last of the walnuts from Christmas left in an old wooden bowl on the breakfast bar. They ask to be cracked and used before spring puts them past their best.
I do think that some winter days in the Mediterranean call for Anglo-American-inspired bakes and cakes. Or may be it’s because those are the ones of my childhood and ingrained in me as being ‘cakes’. Love almond paste cassatella and fine patisserie as I do, I tend to find their iced and glazed perfection just not appetising when my toes are numbed from our limestone floors and my fingers find it hard to type at speed. Steaming, straight from the oven, a fresh-made batch of banana walnut muffins is more my kinda cake in January. I’ve now new doors to ease the chill from outside, but all the same, with the constant tramp of workmen through my house, my winter nest is open to the four winds. Doors are flung wide to accommodate the passing sacks of plaster and plumbing fittings and see rubble and scaffolding carried out.
Apart from nostalgia and my innate primal reason for seeking comfort food on a grey day, I felt the need to be tied to the oven today and not just because of the melancholy weather. It’s just over 24 hours since the chilling news of the Charlie Hebdo attack. I read of it at midnight last night; I had decided to give the news a cursory glance before switching off and then ended up numbed and unable to sleep after reading of the horror.
How banal then today my hankering for baking seems. I suppose subconsciously I wanted to cling to something routine, normal, homely to stave off thinking. I wanted to give my son something to look forward to on his school homecoming which is fraught these days with blacker and blacker looks and furrowed brows as he wages war in his mind against the style of teaching, boring outdated subjects and a growing list of ills of the education system. What can I say to him when he learns of horrors like Hebdo’s? I hope he’s not heard talk of it in the playground and offer him hot banana walnut muffins to coax a brief smile and easing of that lined brow. He’s only 12; he has cartoonist on his what-I-wannabe-when-I-grow-up list. I know that I am the one seeking the comfort of these muffins.
[bctt tweet=”Banana walnut muffins, perfect comfort food for wintry tea.”]
All images © Liz Ayling 2015
- 75g golden granulated sugar
- 125ml corn oil (rapeseed, sunflower etc)
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla essence (Madagascan)
- 2 tbsps runny honey
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- 160g plain flour
- 65g oatbran (or whizzed up rolled oats)
- 2 tsps baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- pinch of salt
- 2 overripe bananas, mashed up
- handful of chopped walnuts
- Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Centigrade.
- Sieve the flour, salt, bicarb, baking powder, ground nutmeg and oat bran into a large bowl.
- In another bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, honey, corn oil and vanilla essence til well mixed.
- Peel and mash the bananas. Chop the walnuts up roughly.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold in well until the dry is mixed in. Don't worry if the mixture is lumpy - don't overbeat til smooth.
- Stir in the mashed bananas and walnut pieces til evenly distributed.
- Using a large spoon, fill muffin cases or tins (silicon ideal) or paper muffin cases ¾ full.
- Bake for 25 mins or until risen and golden brown on top. Test with a cocktail stick if unsure if the mixture is cooked in the centre. The stick should remove with dry crumbs only if the muffins are done.
- Cool for five minutes in the tins then turn out on a wire rack to cool.
- Lovely eaten steaming though! They keep well in air-tight tin for two days.