Baking: Cinnamon Swirl Banana Muffins

As you all know from this post, I have a touch of Fresher’s Flu. And what does this student do when ill/stressed/annoyed/grumpy/all of the above? She bakes! My house had lots of very brown and mushy bananas to use up, but I wanted a change from the usual Banana & Nutella Muffins (much to some of my housemates disgust!). Thanks to Wahaca and Hula Cafe (a lovely little place in Edinburgh that do the best smoothies – I’ve not blogged about my summer holiday, but maybe I should!) I have a rather strong addiction to cinnamon, so decided to incorporate that. My brainwave was these Cinnamon Swirl Banana Muffins, some with a hidden surprise!

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Next time I personally would double the amount of cinnamon, and possibly use another banana and lose an egg (thrifty tips here guys!). But definitely err on the side of caution when it comes to cinnamon – you can always dust with more after baking, but can’t take it away. I used this recipe as a brief guide, but didn’t really follow it at all – but I’d thought I’d show you as there are some great recipes on the site!

I haven’t costed this recipe exactly – but relying on the fact that you may have cinnamon in your cupboards (it is a useful spice to have, mainly because I like spoons in porridge, but a little does add a nice fruity note to a curry) and some baking powder (if you bake a lot, it really is useful – I ran out and all I could get were stupidly expensive sachets, so it is worth buying a pot) it shouldn’t be too expensive, as there are no special ingredients. The soft brown sugar can always be substituted with generic sugar you throw in your tea if you don’t want to splash out anymore.

 

Anyway, here’s the recipe!

 

Ingredients (Makes 12 big muffins)

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  • 3 bananas
  • 2 eggs (medium)
  • 115-125g butter (about half a pack, I used salted)
  • 225-240g (I have very unreliable scales at the moment!) plain flour
  • 100-120g sugar (I always use the cheapest I can find here)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Optional – a handful of oats, some dark chocolate
  • For the swirl/topping – 50g soft brown sugar (or normal if you prefer), and 1+tsp of cinnamon (to taste)

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to around 180 degrees.
  • Peel your bananas and mash into a bowl.

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  • Add your eggs to the bananas and beat up.
  • Melt your butter, let cool slightly (we don’t want scrambled eggs!) and add the the mixing bowl.
  • Add in your flour, sugar and baking powder, and mix to combine.

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  • If you are using them, throw in your handful of oats. If the mixture gets a bit stiff and sticky cooking, beat in a splash or two of milk.

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  • Make your cinnamon mixture – mix the brown sugar (or alternative) in a bowl with the cinnamon.

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  • Line a muffin tin with paper muffin cases (I bought some really pretty ones from Wilkinson’s recently – and don’t use silicone ones with banana recipes as they tend to stick more).
  • Add a tablespoon of the muffin mixture to each case.
  • Sprinkle over some of the cinnamon sugar.

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  • Add another tablespoon of mixture to the cases (they should be almost full – the actuary in me estimates around 5/6 full).
  • Swirl your mixture slightly with the top of a teaspoon – they won’t swirl as readily as the nutella version, so don’t worry.
  • If you are making some with a chocolatey surprise, push a square of dark chocolate (I used ASDA’s own smartprice version) into the centre.
  • Sprinkle more of the cinnamon sugar onto the top.

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  • Put in the oven, for 20-25 minutes. I turned mine round halfway as the oven in this new house cooks unevenly.
  • Cool before eating, although they are good blasted in the microwave too.

Perfect as a pick-me-up when you realise that going into second year is a big jump in terms of workload (one class test and piece of coursework already done, AND they count towards my actual degree!).

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For more baking recipes, check out my aforementioned banana and nutella oat muffins, and my lemon-and-lime drizzle cupcakes – I’m sure there will be plenty of baking over second year, as it’s the perfect method of yummy procrastination!

Do any of my readers have any recipes they recommend?

Baking: Citrus Drizzle Cupcakes

I came out of a two-and-a-half hour exam earlier. Knowing I had another (4 hour!) exam on Monday, what did I do? Put my head down and revise? Drown my sorrows in alcohol? No, I turned to baking.

 

I’ll be completely honest with you, I have no choice but to bake at the moment. For one thing, both the making, the eating and the giving away to friends is a great stress reliever. But the main reason is that it’s coming to the end of the year and I have a LOT of food to get through.

I currently have just under a kilogram of flour, lots of various different sugars, and a selection of flavourings. Last week I made brownies (not as successful, so they don’t get a blog post – my halls oven is failing rapidly). This week I wanted something fresher, to reflect what I thought was sunnier weather – again something that is also failing rapidly. I knew I had a bottle of lime juice and a bottle of lemon juice to use up. I recommend always having some lemon juice – I love it. Over pancakes, as a simple salad dressing, or over fish fingers (hey I’m a student!) it’s really useful at perking things up. Lime juice is less of a necessity. I only have it because of my addition to Mexican food, which I have street-food restaurant Wahaca to blame for. I make refried beans a lot of the exam period, and they always benefit from a splash of lime juice. But anyways, lots of lime juice to use up.

I decided to make citrus cupcakes. I have a cupcake ‘recipe’ I use, that I’ve used for years, that I don’t know where it came from, and that I usually flavour with vanilla. I decided to use that, but ditch the vanilla in favour of a citrus mix. I then swapped out my usual buttercream  icing for a drizzle type concoction. It seemed to work. I definitely over cooked the cupcakes, but I had enough mixture left over for a ‘cake’ in my Le Cruset baking dish. This isn’t so dry, and is much better – so keep an eye on these little cakes, especially if you have a dodgy student oven.

 

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Citrus Drizzle Cupcakes

Here’s the recipe. It made 12 cupcakes and a reasonable size cake – I’d guess you’d get at least 18 cupcakes out of it. Note that in the picture one is missing. Someone had to sample it didn’t they…

Ingredients;

  • Oil (vegetable) – 6 tablespoons
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup of sugar – I used standard granulated for this
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 cups plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (or just use 1.5 cups of self raising flour)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Lemon and Lime juice – good splashes of both, preferably to taste though I take no responsibility for any illness from eating raw cake mixture (it’s not a good idea, but just about everyone I know does it)
  • For the drizzle – more splashes of lemon/lime juice, and granulated sugar, just enough so it stops dissolving and feels grainy

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
  2. Beat together the oil, sugar, and the salt, until fully mixed.
  3. Add the eggs gradually, the mix should go light in colour, and reasonably fluffy.
  4. Sift together (I’ll admit I didn’t do this – due to lack of a sieve) the flour and baking powder. Add this to the mixture, alternating between a cup of flour and some milk. Mix until you have a smooth batter.
  5. Stir through the lemon/lime juice – again, use your own judgement as to how much.
  6. Add to muffin cases in a tin (fill about 2/3 full) and bake for 15-18 mins, probably towards the shorter end of the cooking time.
  7. While they’re cooking, prepare the drizzle mix as specified in the ingredients.
  8. As soon as they’re out, spoon the drizzle mixture oven. Let cool, and eat! Simple as that!

Baking: Banana Nutella Oat Muffins

I’ve been looking for recipes I can bake which will do for an on-the-run breakfast, or quick but filling snack, when I go to lectures. My second-term timetable is pretty evil; 9am starts four days out of five, and 5pm finishes most days. This means making things ahead is a must for me (my freezer is currently stuffed full of meals – another blog post!). Now, last week I bought some bananas, thinking I would eat them. I always get cravings for bananas, but never eat them. I tend to want them at ridiculous times (who gets up at 3am just to have a banana?!) and so they just go overripe. As these ones did. However, I’m now a student. I can’t afford to throw away food. I quickly went through what was in my cupboards, did a bit of googling, and decided to adapt The Londoner’s recipe (found here) to make them a bit more substantial. Basically I made it, threw in some oats, and reduced the nutella slightly. Here’s what I did, and what I ended up with:

Banana Nutella Oaty Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 230g flour (I used plain, and added 3-4 teaspoons of baking powder and a splash of milk)
  • 150g sugar (I’d reduced this down next time, probably to 120g, maybe 100g)
  • 2 tablespoons porridge oats (could add more – I will be)
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 115g melted butter (I used salted)
  • 2 eggs (I used medium sized ones)
  • 2 tablespoons of nutella

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C
  2. Peel, break up and then mash the bananas straight into your mixing bowl. Don’t worry too much about lumps.
  3. Melt the butter, and add to the bananas. Let it cool for a bit if its a little warm, or you’ll scramble the eggs.
  4. Break the eggs, beat lightly and add to the bowl. Mix everything together briefly.
  5. Add the flour (and baking powder if you’re using plain flour) and sugar, and mix until everything is just combined. It will look a bit like sick – don’t worry, it definitely shouldn’t be smooth! 
  6. Mix in the porridge oats – it will look even more like sick now!
  7. Prep a muffin tin by putting in paper cases. You could use the posh silicon ones, but that’s too much washing up for me!
  8. Add one tablespoon of the mixture to each case.
  9. Melt down your nutella slightly. Add a bit (around a teaspoon, definitely a good dollop) to each case.
  10. Top the nutella with around another tablespoon of the muffin mixture.
  11. Get a teaspoon and turn it upside down, and use the handle to swirl the muffins, making a marbled pattern with the batter and the nutella.
  12. Put the tray in the oven, cook for just over 20 minutes (mine took 22).
  13. Bowl licking time – the nutella one can’t just be washed of course, needs to be as clean as possible beforehand! 
  14. Let cool until you can handle them, eat warm if possible. 

 

I thought these were really good. I would maybe want them more substantial. Next time I will reduce the sugar, add at least double the amount of oats (and probably a little more baking powder), and maybe add some chopped nuts. There’s another version of this recipe which uses no flour and no butter (but does add low fat yoghurt) which I fancy trying, but that means digging my blender out of the cupboard. This recipe took about 15 minutes to mix up (rushing up and downstairs locating ingredients), and then 22 minutes to cool, and comes in at a reasonable 205 calories per muffin (the mix made 14 muffins). Alongside an apple, I reckon they could be a decent breakfast for days I wake up too late to make porridge. They’re definitely a good snack for a long weekend-day of maths!

These are amazingly quick to make, and a great fuel for the mind – I’ve made them lots during the exam term as they’re great to make when you need a break, and great to eat when you need cheering up!