Tis the season to invoke my inner Nigella Lawson (Domestic Goddess, I know you’re hiding deep down inside me!) and spur myself with full force back into the kitchen. It’s time to dust off, and don on, my floral apron hiding at the back of beyond on one of my kitchen shelves. I’ve taken quite a long vacation from baking as I’ve been distracted by summer, work (never a good thing) and a new love- yes, a boy. It’s officially fall, or as I’m continually corrected by ‘well-meaning’ English friends who ‘invented the English language,’ autumn. As I’m now living in Oxford, I’m trying my best to fit in by adopting this unnatural word, autumn. I do, however, feel slightly highfalutin while using it in a sentence and know that I would be subjected to sneers back home from family and friends if it was said in their presence.
Over the last two days, I have felt a definite shift in the seasons, crispness in the air, the anticipation of something new to come, good things of course. Autumn is officially upon us. Autumn evokes new school supplies (perfect in their wrappers, freshly bought from Staples), woolly tights and bulky jumpers, flurries of falling leaves while you walk through massive piles of rust red-orange and golden leaves, rosy coloured cheeks fresh from battling the wind, snatches of sunshine playing on your skin in the cool, crisp air, apple cider, and even better, apple cider donuts, pumpkin carving… The list is endless. Can you tell I’m an avid autumnite?!
Three questionable bananas have been resting on my desk at work for days and as a colleague remarked yesterday, ‘Those bananas have seen better days.’ In penitence for forcing my colleagues to come face to face with those brown bananas for days on end, I’ve decided to bake them some delicious treats. Many people in the office, however, are gluten-free or have joined the healthy eating brigade – dieters. Scary word, we shall quickly move on. I therefore searched for a healthy banana recipe. I stumbled upon the Fannetastic Food Blog and found a Banana Spelt Muffin recipe that looked delicious and had enough positive commentary to induce me to try the recipe. Plus, it had incredible idiotproof steps! I gleefully announced to Trica (my cubicle neighbour at work) that I was going to become the muffin lady at work! She dryly replied, ‘As long as you don’t become the muffin top lady you’re fine.’ It’s highly doubtful that anyone in the office will gain a muffin top from these nutritious and yes, delicious muffins!
Let’s get baking!
What do you need for this delectable treat?
- 2 cups of spelt flour (I used Wessex Mill Wholemeal Spelt Flour that I bought from Millets Farm Shop.)
- ½ cup of brown sugar
- ½ cup finely ground flaxseed
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. sea salt
- 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
- ¾ cups of skim milk
- ½ cup of plain (or vanilla) non-fat Greek yogurt (I used regular yogurt and it was fine.)
- Optional add ins- ½ cup of each: walnuts, raisins, blueberries, dark chocolate chips, etc.! (I added white and dark chocolate chunks since that is what was in my cupboard.)
- Preheat the oven to 150 °C or 300 °F (spelt apparently bakes more quickly than regular flour, thus the low oven temperature ensures that the dough has more time to cook before browning (or burning!) and will stop the bottom of the muffin from burning and turning really hard.)
- In one large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together – flour, sugar, flaxseed, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In another large bowl, mash the bananas together.
4. Add all the wet ingredients to the mashed up bananas – milk, yogurt and any add-ins (I added chocolate pieces that I chopped up).
5. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir all the ingredients together until they’re completely mixed together. Don’t over stir though.
6. Spoon the batter into a buttered, cooking-sprayed or non-stick muffin pan. I, of course, didn’t have any butter and had no idea if my pan was non-stick or not, so I used sunflower oil to lightly coat each filling section. Fill up each muffin circle to the top with batter. Top each muffin with a sprinkle of raw oats and a pinch of cinnamon. (I love adding cinnamon to everything!)
7. Place the muffin tray into the oven. Cook for about 25- 30 minutes. You can tell a muffin is done by opening the oven door and slowly moving the tray towards you. (But keep the tray in the oven, in the heat. You don’t want to expose the whole pan to the open air or uncooked batter will fall flat.) Insert a toothpick (or cocktail stick as they say in England) in the centre of the muffin. If the muffin is done, the toothpick will come out clean with only a few crumbs hanging onto the side. If the toothpick has batter remaining on the stick, it’s not done and needs to go back in the oven for a few more minutes.
8. Take the muffin tin out of oven. Cool for 15 minutes and voila, you have delicious muffins to eat and if you feel generously inclined, to share.
I highly recommend eating a muffin immediately after they have cooled. The chocolate I added was exceptional and melted in my mouth. I was surprised at how amazingly moist the muffins were since there isn’t any butter in the recipe. The flavour of the spelt flour is subtle. I suppose the best way of describing it is there are undertones of a nutty flavour. I will definitely use spelt flour in future recipes! Next time I make the muffins though I will add raisins and walnuts to make it healthier. The time has come. This muffin lady is about to present these delights to her fellow comrades. 3pm, perfect timing for an afternoon tea-time treat!