I don’t normally bake with bananas. My mother has a delectable recipe for banana bread, but these deliciously sweet fruits have been forbidden since hypoglycemia reared its ugly head.
But sometimes opportunity is the mother of invention, and I inherited four very ripe bananas from a friend with little time to utilize them. The same person who passed them on was also a bit under the weather. Time to get baking!
One thing I love about making muffins is how you can just sort of throw in whatever you have around to make them as simple or complex as your mood is flowing. I had some pecans around that were ready for toasting and was trying to use the rest of my agave syrup (I won’t be baking with it soon – more to come on that). Tossing stuff into a bowl with gusto, I’ve got a decent recipe going here. The challenge was using the agave syrup instead of sugar: in most muffin recipes, sugar and butter are beaten until fluffy so that the moisture of the banana doesn’t soup the batter. But with agave, which is liquid, there is no such dry and sweet combination. So I added cormeal, increased the amount of baking soda to give it a little extra lift, and threw in the pecans that I had toasted ever so slightly for some texture.
The result? They came out light and fluffy while still being dense, and the cornmeal gave them a scrumptious, ever-so-slightly crumbly texture that I love. The amount of sweetness was perfect for me.
Because I was staying with friends at the time I made these get-better muffins, my full flour-arsenal wasn’t at my fingertips, so I used Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free flour mix. In a recipe with this complexity, it blended just dandily.
As always with my recipes, you can always substitute the butter with butter flavored Earth Balance and the eggs with powdered egg replacer to make them vegan, gluten-free banana bread muffins. They may lack a little heft, but they’ll still be delicious.
Yields one loaf or 16 muffins
- 2 cups gluten-free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Baking Mix)
- ½ cup ground cornmeal
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 ½ tsp xantham gum
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 stick (8 tbsps) unsalted butter
- ½ cup light agave syrup
- 2 eggs
- 3 very ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 1/3 cups)
- ½ cup toasted pecans, walnuts or hazelnuts (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Grease and flour (preferably with rice flour, as it’s grainy and helps the bread release) a loaf pan or muffin tins
- If you have raw nuts, spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake them while the oven preheats. Check on them regularly to make sure they don’t burn – this should take no longer than 10 minutes and they’ll brown quickly once brought to heat.
- In a small bowl combine flour, cornmeal, baking soda, xantham gum and salt
- In a large bowl, beat butter with a hand mixer until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes
- Add agave syrup and beat to combine
- Add eggs one at a time and beat to incorporate
- With a wooden spoon or spatula, stir in mashed bananas
- Add the dry ingredients and stir to combine
- Fold in toasted nuts
- Bake for 1 hour for a loaf pan or 18 minutes for muffins
- Cool completely before removing from pan