Monday, December 28, 2009

Back Bakin'

Banana-Carob Bran Muffins

It's been about five years since I last baked, and it's the first time in nearly five years that I actually have a kitchen that I love to work in. It makes such a world of difference, as does having some holiday time to dig out those favourite recipes of old, and reacquaint with nearly forgotten flavours. I have to admit that getting back to baking wasn't that successful a start. After an attempt at making "healthy alternative" shortbread cookies with whole wheat flour, I was rather dejected. I had planned to give these to my students as a Christmas treat, but after my guy took one bite, he looked at me solemnly and said, "You might want to consider not giving these to your students. " I had to agree. These things - brown, hard and dry - could not be considered cookies. Oh sad truth. I had even creatively (or so I thought) sprinkled them with crushed candy cane, which unfortunately also worked against me when they melted onto the things in hardened puddles of greenish-red goo.

Second attempt on the same night went surprisingly well, considering I had already been at it for over two hours and tired. (And I thought holiday baking was supposed to be fun.) Since I had already planned to make muffins that same evening, and by now was more determined than ever to make things right, I went ahead as planned. By the end of my night of baking, I had a dozen golden, pumpkin-raisin muffins on a cooling rack, two of which were promptly devoured with a feeling of triumph on my part, and muffled mouthfuls of "good, mmm, yah, good" from my guy.

Because of the success of this batch, I gave the muffin thing another try, this time with a different recipe. These ones turned out even better and I'm feeling like I'm really liking this baking thing. After years of baking absence, I had become a little intimidated by the whole idea. But now after several attempts, I'm ready for more. I'm certain there'll be further pitfalls and some ho-hum results, but I also have high hopes for more of the sweet taste of victory.

Recipe for (moist and scrumptious) Banana-Carob Bran Muffins

1 1/2 cups natural wheat bran
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup carob or chocolate chips, or dried fruit

Combine the above dry ingredients and mix lightly in a bowl. In another bowl, thoroughly mix the wet ingredients below.

1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup packed brown or raw sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup plain yogurt

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Spoon the batter into paper-lined, greased or non-stick muffin tins. Bake at 400 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Remove and let cool on a wire rack. Makes 12 muffins.

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