I recently received a new a muffin cookbook. It had great photography and interesting recipes. But when you look more closely, you discover that the author used the same recipe repeatedly changing the chips, fruit, or nuts to create new recipes. There is nothing wrong with that—but you can do the same thing. In this article, we’ll give you guidelines for doing so . . . plus we’ll show you how we took a great banana nut muffin recipe and changed it to make new recipes.[spacer height=”20px”]
Tips for Customizing Muffins
Take your favorite muffin recipe, one that you are comfortable with. It can be bran, whole wheat, or white. If it already contains nuts, fruit, or chips, so much the better. Then all you have to do is make substitutions. But if you are going beyond that, the following guidelines will help:
- Most recipes for 12 large muffins call for 3/4 to one cup of nuts, chips, or fruit if used. Your total of these inclusions should probably be less than two cups. Use these guidelines as starting points.
- Be willing to enhance the flavor. If you are adding apples, consider adding two teaspoons of apple flavor. If you are adding blueberries, consider adding blueberry flavor. A wide array of flavors is available. If you have a nice library of flavors in cupboard, you’ll find that you use them often.
- Tartness improves many baked goods. Consider adding lemon or orange zest or lemon flavor. (We have a terrific lemon flavor—the best we’ve ever found.)
- Be mindful of moisture. Too much moisture will cause too much spread. Use paper towels to pat extra moisture from canned fruits such as pineapple.
- Be careful with sugar. You may be tempted to add sugar to sweeten your muffins. Be mindful that sugar turns to liquid in the oven and will increase spread.
Using these guidelines, you can create many muffin variations. Here are some items to consider as examples:
- Macadamia nuts
- Strawberry tidbits
- Chopped hazelnuts
- Chopped apple
- Dry apple pieces
- Dry pear pieces
- Butterscotch chips
- White chocolate chips
When you make changes to your muffin recipe, you may wish to change the spices. Some spices are natural complements, like cinnamon with apples and nutmeg with pears. But mostly, you’ll change spices to accommodate your tastes.
Cinnamon is the most loved baking spice and we often switch from one type of cinnamon to another and often add twice the cinnamon that the recipe calls for. A good cinnamon is pleasant to the taste, not astringent, and will make a magical difference in your baking. Different types of cinnamon taste very different. Use Sri Lanka or Ceylon cinnamon for buttery, mild recipes without a lot of competing flavors. This cinnamon is mild and woodsy. When you want to kick it up a notch with a robust dynamic cinnamon, consider Saigon Vietnamese cinnamon. Cassia is the traditional cinnamon used in the United Sates but there is quite a difference between cassia cinnamons.
You can get a sampler of these cinnamons for not a lot of money from The Prepared Pantry.
In the following recipe, you’ll see how we made changes to a favorite banana muffin recipe to create new recipes.
The Best Banana Nut Muffin Recipe
We’ll start with the base banana muffin recipe. We think this is the best banana nut muffin recipe ever. But then we made batch after batch after batch in our test kitchen to get it just right. It’s not too sweet but has plenty of banana flavor and is moist and tender. This recipe makes 12 standard muffins with very high domes.
The keys for success with this recipe are:
- Use the ripest bananas that you can find. Ripe bananas have much more flavor.
- Adjust the flour if you have to. Because bananas differ in their moistness as they ripen, you may have to add a couple tablespoons of flour. The batter should be half way between cake batter and cookie dough for drop cookies. It should be stiff enough that it can mound in your scoop.
- Fill the muffin tins almost to the top. It takes a lot of batter to build a dome. If you fill the tins only 2/3’s full, you’ll have batter left over and smaller muffins. This recipe is designed for 12 standard muffins.
- Start out with a hot oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and then reduce the temperature as directed. The initial hot oven creates a burst of steam that helps lift the muffins.
- Check the cooking time. Because you turn the temperature down, times are only an estimate and reflect the time required in our oven. Other ovens may not retain heat as ours does.
The Best Banana Nut Muffin Recipe
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups ripe mashed banana
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup sour cream (not low fat)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons banana flavor
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.
- In another bowl, mix the mashed banana, sugar, sour cream, vegetable oil, egg yolks, and vanilla together.
- Add wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until the ingredients are mixed well. Fold in the nuts and chips.
- Fill the well-greased tins nearly full. Use all the batter for twelve standard muffins.
- Bake for 8 minutes at 400 degrees. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 8 to 10 minutes or until done. Let sit for five minutes and remove the muffins from the pan to a rack to cool.
To Make Cinnamon Chip Banana Nut Muffins
Use the basic recipe above. At the end of the mixing, add one cup pecan or walnut pieces and 3/4 cup cinnamon chips. Add a teaspoon of your favorite cinnamon.
Cinnamon chips, as wonderful as they are, can be hard to find. Some grocery stores carry them at Christmastime, as a seasonal item. Or you can buy cinnamon chips at The Prepared Pantry.
To Make Peanut Butter Chip Banana Nut Muffins
Mix and bake as directed. At the end of the mixing; add one cup pecan pieces or chopped peanuts and 3/4 cup peanut butter chips.
To Make Chocolate Chip Banana Nut Muffins
Mix and bake as directed. At the end of the mixing, add one cup pecan or walnut pieces and 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips. Semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips tend to overwhelm the delicate taste of the bananas and are not recommended.
To Make Island Paradise Banana Nut Muffins
Mix and bake as directed. At the end of the mixing, add one cup well-drained and patted dry pineapple pieces, either canned or fresh. Add 1/2 cup flaked coconut.
For more muffin recipes from The Prepared Pantry, download a free collection of muffin recipes.
This article was written by Dennis Weaver at The Prepared Pantry. The Prepared Pantry sells baking mixes—including gourmet muffin mixes–and baking tools and ingredients. Learn more about Dennis Weave and The Prepared Pantry.