Like all of my muffins, these are nutrient rich, low in added fat, low sugar, and high fiber. I call this a weekend muffin because the addition of some coarsely chopped good quality dark chocolate and walnuts tips the scales ever so slightly towards being a treat. Also, because I made a small batch for a recent weekend road trip we took across Sweden (with a brief dip into Norway) to the west coast. Suffice it to say half the batch was gone before we had left Stockholm city limits.
A blend of whole wheat and spelt flours gives the muffins a nutty, almost buttery taste. Very ripe mashed bananas offer a considerable amount of moisture, as well as much of the sweetness to this muffin. You may want to play around with the sugar to achieve the right level of sweetness for yourself. I used only the banana and ¼ cup of loosely packed light brown muscovado sugar to sweeten these muffins; to me they were perfect, but Paul thought that they were teetering on the edge of not being sweet enough, saved only by the chocolate. You be the judge. Next time I make these I plan on adding a diced banana to the mix to bump up the banana flavour, which is very subtle.
In addition to the flours, there is a blend of rolled oats and wheat bran in these muffins, and I'll admit, I'm not sure exactly in what proportion. In the early days of living in Stockholm I spent hours at the grocery store translating ingredient lists from the sides of packages with a Swedish-English translator app, and I've learned the names of many food ingredients, but sometimes things go amiss. As it turned out I bought a blended bag of rolled oats and wheat bran, which was not what I was expecting, but not an unwelcome surprise; I've been enjoying it as a morning porridge as well as in baking. If I had to give my best guess, I'd say probably ⅔ oats and ⅓ bran, but you could certainly use all oats or use a 50/50 blend if you wanted to bump up the fiber content some more. I gave the oats and bran a soak in a mixture of milk, water, and a touch of vinegar (you could sub buttermilk instead if you have it handy - I didn't) while I was prepping the rest of the ingredients.
Walnuts are rich in fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, and antioxidants, and have a significantly higher amount of omega 3 fatty acids compared to other nuts. Flax seeds are also rich in omega 3 fatty acids, and both flax seeds and walnuts have been evidenced in lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol. Flax seeds have a tough outer cellulose layer that can't be broken down by human digestive enzymes; crushing your flax seeds before adding them to your recipes will help ensure you get all of the health benefits out of them. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and has been linked, when consumed in moderation, to having cardiovascular health benefits. The better quality chocolate you use, the better your muffins will turn out.
Banana Spelt Weekend Muffin Recipe:
This recipe made 6 large muffins. You could make 12 smaller muffins (you'd need to reduce the baking time), or double the recipe and go for 12 big ones. It was nice making a small batch and spacing the muffins out in the pan so they had room to expand without running into one another. If you go this route, fill the empty muffin tins ¼ with water so they don't burn.
1 cup rolled oats (or blend of rolled oats and wheat bran)
½ cup milk
½ cup water
1 teaspoon white vinegar
½ cup spelt flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 very ripe banana, mashed
2 tablespoon room temperature butter
¼ cup loosely packed light brown muscovado sugar
2 tablespoon crushed flax seeds
½ cup chopped toasted walnuts
⅓ cup chopped good quality dark chocolate
Preheat oven to 400 F. Prepare muffin tins. Combine rolled oats/bran, milk, water, and vinegar in a small bowl, and set aside to soak while you are preparing the rest of the ingredients. In a large bowl, using a whisk, whip the mashed banana and butter together until well combined, and fluffy looking. Add sugar and egg, and stir until well combined. Sift together dry ingredients: spelt flour, whole wheat flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Combine oat/milk mixture with the banana mix, stir to combine, and then add the dry mix. Mix everything together until just combined, careful not to over mix. Stir in flax, walnuts, and chocolate. Spoon into prepared muffin tins, and bake for 20 - 25 min, until tops are golden and firm to touch.
All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2010