When it comes to breakfast treats like waffles and (American-styled) muffins, I rarely get them from cafés or coffee-shop chains. One big reason is that I can easily make them at home. Another bigger reason is that almost all of the time, the store-bought ones turn out to be quite bad.When I say bad, I mean both not knowing what ingredients go into the baked good as well as (usually) the taste. This is especially true when it comes to muffins – they tend to be quite blasé. Store-bought muffins tend to be overly huge, and oftentimes, overly sweet. Furthermore, the selection of muffins in cafés and coffee-shop chains is pretty limited – how many times have you wished for a muffin that’s not blueberry?
To make your own muffin is not difficult at all. Some bakery books even offer “mother” recipes for muffins and leave it up to the baker to add in whatever ingredients they fancy (or have in their pantries). My all-time favourite combination is banana, nuts and chocolate. I like my muffins to have a good proportion of batter and key ingredients. And often the ones from the shops are not very generous with their key ingredients. I like that when you bite into a muffin, you get a taste of all the different flavours in a single mouthful – in this case, you get the distinct fragrance of the bananas, the crunch from the nuts and the sweetness of the chocolate. Of course, the other great thing about making your own treat is knowing exactly what had gone inside your tasty creation. And seriously, nothing beats a freshly baked treat to make your morning a bit better.
Banana, nuts and chocolate chips muffin
(Heavily influenced by Joanne Chang’s Flour)
This recipe is not found in Flour. I love the banana bread recipe from Flour and I used that as a reference and created this banana nuts chocolate chips muffin recipe.
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 20-25 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
Makes 12 medium-sized muffins
120g all-purpose flour
100g whole wheat flour
120g unsalted butter, softened (room temperature)
130g granulated sugar
2 large eggs (a large egg without shell should weigh around 54-56g)
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt (table salt is fine)
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
60ml (¼ cup) crème fraîche or sour cream*
120g bittersweet chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli’s 60% bittersweet chocolate chips)
100g walnuts or pecans, toasted, chopped
200g skinned bananas, mashed
Preheat your oven to 180oC. You can either butter or line your muffin tray with muffin cups. I prefer the latter as it saves me a few chores. If you do not have a muffin tray or no intention to buy one, you can buy those sturdier cupcake/ muffin cups–they tend not to go out of shape when filled with batter. In Singapore, you can easily get them from Phoon Huat.
In a medium-sized bowl, add in both all-purpose and whole wheat flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg (if using) and mix well, and set aside.
In another medium-sized bowl, mash the bananas together with crème fraîche (or sour cream) and vanilla extract, and set aside.
In the stand-mixer bowl, add in the softened butter and sugar. Using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar for 5-8 minutes, medium speed until the mixture is pale yellow and fluffy. You can also do this by hand (or using a hand mixer). Use a large-sized bowl and a wooden spoon, mix the butter and sugar until it becomes fluffy. This should take 10-15 minutes by hand. Try to use a sturdy, heavy bottom bowl so as to prevent it from slipping off your hands.
Once the butter and sugar are incorporated, add in the eggs, one at a time (if you are using the stand-mixer, you are still on medium speed). At this point, the mixture will look like half-cooked scrambled eggs. It is meant to look like that. Make sure the egg is fully incorporated before you add in the next one.
Once the eggs are mixed in, add in the mashed banana mixture and mix at a medium speed for around 1-2 minutes. Once all the ingredients are incorporated, remove the bowl from the stand-mixer.
Using a spatula, fold in half of the flour mixture into the stand-mixer bowl (which contains the butter, sugar and bananas). When the flour is almost fully incorporated, fold in the rest of the flour mixture, nuts and chocolate chips. It is very tempting to mix vigorously to get rid of the flour streaks. Don’t. This will release the gluten in the flour, leaving you with a rock-solid muffin. Just be patient and gently fold in the flour until there are no flour streaks. Don’t be overly worried if you see lumps – chances are they are the mashed bananas. And please don’t take a shortcut and use the stand-mixer to mix in the flour, nuts and chocolate chips–the chances of over-mixing are quite high.
Fill each muffin cup ¾ full – this should be around 2 tablespoons of batter. I like to use ice-cream/ cookie scoop for this job as it helps to release the batter that is usually stuck on the spoon.
Once the muffin cups are filled, place the muffin tray on the top of a baking tray – this is to ensure even baking at the bottom. If you are not using a muffin tray, place the muffin cups on a baking tray. Bake for around 20-25 minutes (rotate the tray after 10-15 minutes of baking). You can use a toothpick or a skewer to check if your muffin is done. There should be tiny bits of crumbs stuck onto the toothpick/ skewer. Once cooked, the top of the muffin should be golden brown and still soft to touch.
Remove the muffins from the tray and leave them on a rack to cool for 5 minutes. If you did not use muffin cups to line your tray, let them cool in the tray for 5 minutes before you tilt and remove them. If you have problems removing the muffin, you can use a paring knife and run it around the edge of the muffin. Please don’t leave them for too long in the tray to cool as condensation will happen and you will get a soggy bottom. Once removed, leave them on a rack to cool.
Serve the muffins warm. They are good on their own or with a bit of butter (I won’t judge you).
*My preference is always to use crème fraîche. You will still get a great muffin using sour cream but it won’t be spectacular. Crème fraîche is rather easily available in good supermarkets – I get mine from Cold Storage in Singapore.