ABC muffins

School goes back next week, and that means school lunches, and school lunches means muffins. I have made masses of muffins for years and years and years, starting when my elder daughter was a tiny new baby. I would bake a batch, eat some, and put the rest in the freezer so I could grab one quickly when the day had turned to custard, as it does with new babies, and I needed something, anything, to eat. These days, I bake a batch at the start of the week, put three in the school lunches for that day, freeze the rest, and pop them into the lunchboxes later in the week. Full of sugar and fat, of course, but it’s good honest sugar and fat that I have put in myself, so I know that the girls aren’t being filled up on corn syrup or palm oil.

Our current favourites are Apple, Banana and Chocolate Muffins. I first saw a recipe for them in an Alison and Simon Holst recipe book, but for some reason, I just couldn’t get their recipe to work well for me. So I filched the idea, and added apple and chocolate chips to a banana muffin recipe that has been in our family for so long that Mum and I have lost its provenance.

You will need some apples, bananas, and chocolate chips. If I have stewed apple (or as my girls call it, apple stew) in the fridge, then I get about 1/2 cup, drain it, and dice it. You need reasonably firm apple stew for this; if your preference is for apple mush rather than apple stew, then you may want to start with whole apples for the muffins.

About now, turn your oven on to heat up to 200 degrees Celsius (about 400 Fahrenheit).

Peel, core, slice and dice two apples. Put the diced apple into a saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to the boil. Let it simmer gently for a minute or so, then turn it off, and drain the apples and leave to cool while you prepare the rest of the recipe. Alternatively, you could leave the apple skins on, and grate the apples. I’ve tried this occasionally, but I’m not fussed about the result, or as my girls would say, it’s not to my taste.

Melt 50 grams of butter, and set it aside to cool. If you prefer, you could use 50 mls of cooking oil instead (canola is good), but I find that the colour and taste of the muffins is not as good.

Sift 1.5 cups of plain flour, 2 tsp cream of tartar, and 1 tsp baking soda into a large bowl. If you don’t have cream of tartar and baking soda on hand, use 1.5 tsp of baking powder and a pinch of salt, ‘though the result will be cakier than a standard muffin. If you like, add a little ground cinnamon, or grated nutmeg.

Add 1/3 cup sugar. This is on the light side for a muffin recipe, but you get added sweetness with the fruit and chocolate chips, so they get too sweet if you add more sugar.

Mash two bananas in a bowl, ’til they are reasonably smooth. Beat one egg with 1/2 cup of milk. Usually I would add about 3/4 of a cup of milk in a muffin recipe that uses 1.5 cups of flour, but the mashed banana adds a bit of extra liquid to the mix, so the amount of milk is reduced.

Add the mashed banana to the egg and milk mix, and beat some more. You could add some vanilla essence too if you like, but the flavour could be swamped by the cinnamon and nutmeg, so it may not be worth it.

At this stage, before you mix the wet and dry ingedients together, get your muffin pans ready. The recipe makes 12 good sized muffins, so a standard muffin tray should be fine. Grease the muffin pans well with butter paper, or spray them with an oil cooking spray.

Make a well in the dry ingredients, and pour the milk and banana mix in. Mix together gently, just enough to combine the ingredients. Then stir in the diced apple, and about 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. Finally, add the melted butter, and mix ’til smooth.

Although it sounds like you mix this and you mix that and then you mix some more, you should try to minimise the amount of mixing you do. Overmixed muffins can get rubbery. So as you add each wet ingredient, stir the mix just enough to combine the ingredients.

Once everything is mixed together, spoon the mix into the muffin pans, and bake for about 12 to 15 minutes. Take the muffins out of the oven when they are golden brown, and springy to touch. Let them sit in the pans for a moment or two before running a knife around them and easing them out of the pans.

These muffins are most delicious when eaten while they are still warm, but they are not too bad at room temperature. If you decide to freeze some and put them in school lunches, then wrap them in paper towels before you put them in lunch boxes. The paper towels will absorb the moisture as the muffins defrost, so you won’t end up with a horrid sticky mess.

I find this recipe doubles well if you want to make a big batch. Sometimes I make a 1.5 mix, which is a bit tricky when it comes to the eggs. I use 2 eggs, and about 3/5 of a cup of milk, which seems to work out about right.

I’ll be making a batch on Tuesday morning, when the girls go back to school. And sometime in the next week or two, I’ll try the mandarin muffins on Anne’s food blog, Something Else to Eat. They look delicious, and very easy to make.

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18 responses to “ABC muffins

  1. Ooh, great idea! I so like your food posts.

  2. *drools* Hmm, there are two very ripe bananas and several apples in my fruit bowl, but no choc chips in the pantry. Must add choc chips to shopping list for tomorrow.

  3. Hooray for good honest sugar and fat!

    They look lovely.

  4. Yum!

    Can we pretend the vitamins in the fruit cancel out the fat and sugar?

  5. I like meringues and cream. The cream is low sugar, and the meringues are low fat. The perfect combination.

  6. Great stuff, Deborah, I must try this recipe for our lunchbox treats. We’ve tried most of the recipes in Alison Holst’s muffin cookbook and our current favourites are ginger cardamom with added banana.

  7. They look great. I will have to give them a go.

    I love the notion of good honest sugar and fat as well. Reminds me of my childhood and those before me who ate cake with real cream, slices, scones etc – no low fat anything, nothing overly processed.

    I know it can be hard to find the time sometimes but there really is nothing like good honest sugar and fat in food in which every ingredient is known – because you added it.

  8. oh wow! those look fab!

  9. Yum…

    Having just regained my baking mojo, I can feel another muffin baking session coming on for my lunches and snacks.

    There’s chocolate chips in the cupboard, VERY ripe bananas in the freezer (just waiting for a reason to use], and GREAT New Zealand apples in the fridge. PERFECT!

  10. I just put the occasional shop-bought biscuits in my girl’s lunch box, for treats. Sure, those delicious-looking home baked muffin might be preservative- and colouring- free, but they’re still full ‘o sugar and fat!

  11. Please tell me they were exciting contraband New Zealand apples you made them out of.

    And possibly exciting contraband Latin American bananas, too.

  12. (Chocolate is always exciting, so it doesn’t need to be contraband. :))

  13. All perfectly legal, alas, TimT.

  14. I put shop-bought stuff in my kids’ lunches too. I aim for home baked, but it doesn’t always happen, and so far, the world hasn’t ended.

    I’m fine with butter and cane sugar and cream and milk and cheese and all that. I aim for less processed rather than more processed, but other than that, I try to include some carbs, some fresh fruit or vegies, some protein, and some fats in every meal. I try to emphasise food that tastes good, and health. Sometimes I achieve all of this, sometimes I don’t, but overall, we don’t do too badly. Most of the time.

    Then there are the custard days.

  15. *Completely off topic* Deborah you should be able to buy Braeburns in Australia, they are certainly grown here, and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen them in the local supermarket (in NSW though). Here’s a link to apple types grown here:

    http://www.apal.org.au/assets/static/Aust-Apple-Information-Chart.pdf

  16. Thanks, Mindy. That was really helpful. You didn’t use to be able to get Braeburns here, but I too have noticed them in NSW in the last couple of years.

  17. Some extra googling – yes I had something I should have been doing how did you guess? – showed that Braeburns aren’t grown commercially in SA, so you might have to seek out an organic farm. I think there was one, but I’m not entirely sure.

  18. I haven’t been able to find them in the markets here, but I’m hoping to get sufficiently organised to get to one of the local farmers’ markets, and see if I can find some. And I should try the organics shop across the road from the Adelaide markets, which is reputed to stock kumara, so it might have Braeburns too.

    One of my pleasant discoveries in Adelaide has been Pink Lady apples. They should be reappearing in the supermarket quite soon now…