Banana Muffins

I was enjoying the company of family this past week and doing “touristy” activities that I haven’t done in quite a while.  We did a brewery tour (not much actual brewery information, but plenty of product samples), a baseball game (even though the team isn’t winning much these days), lots of shopping, and dinner at a favorite restaurant.  And there were the usual late-night conversations, accompanied by a little single-malt scotch whisky.  It was a good visit and a lot of fun.  But the next time I have guests visiting I will be sure to have a batch of these muffins at the ready.  This is another of Thomas Keller’s brilliant recipes from his newest book “Bouchon Bakery”.  His attention to detail and meticulously instructive recipes guarantee you will have success with everything you try.  The muffin batter rests overnight before baking, so plan accordingly.  Mr. Keller prefers to make these muffins in an extra-large pan, but I think you could use a regular muffin pan and get twice as many delicious treats.  I baked mine in mini-panettone molds; take care not to overfill them if these are your choice (I admit it, I had a spillover).   I resisted the urge to add additional flavorings (cinnamon, lemon zest, and other banana-compatible add-ins).  This muffin is pure and simple; buttery, with a light and tender crumb, a hint of vanilla, and a crunchy walnut streusel.  So, I’m off to make more of Mr. Keller’s baked treats for future weekend guests.

Banana Muffins
(makes 6 extra-large muffins)
168 grams cake flour (1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon)
3.6 grams baking soda (3/4 teaspoon)
2.4 grams baking powder (1/2 teaspoon)
4.4 grams kosher salt (1 1/2 teaspoons)
120 grams unsalted butter (4.2 ounces), at room temperature
144 grams light brown sugar (3/4 cup, lightly packed)
80 grams eggs (1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon)**
7 grams vanilla paste (1 1/8 teaspoon)
24 grams creme fraiche (1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons)
256 grams mashed banana (1 cup, about 2 large bananas)
Walnut Streusel Topping
100 grams all-purpose flour (1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons)
100 grams granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
100 grams walnuts, very finely chopped (3/4 cup)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
100 grams cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces  (3 1/2 ounces)
For the batter:  Sift the cake flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a medium bowl.  Add the salt and whisk together.  Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle atachment, turn to medium-low speed, and cream the butter, until it has the consistency of mayonnaise ( if your stand mixer is very large, like mine, you can use a sturdy hand mixer, as this is a relatively small quantity recipe).  Add the sugar and mix for 1 to 2 minutes, until fluffy.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the eggs and vanilla paste, and mix for 15 to 30 seconds on low speed, until just combined.  Add the dry ingredients in 2 additions, mixing on low speed for 15 seconds after each, or until just combined.  Scrape the bottom of the bowl again to lift any dry ingredients that may have settled there.  Add the creme fraiche and banana and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, until just combined.  Transfer the batter to a covered container and refrigerate overnight, or for up to 36 hours.  For the Walnut Streusel:  Combine all of the ingredients except the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on the lowest setting.  Toss in the butter and mix on low speed for about 1 minute, or until the butter is incorporated, with no large chunks remaining.  Refrigerate the streusel in a covered container for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 1 month.  Use the streusel while it is cold.  To bake the muffins:  Preheat the oven to 425F.  Line a jumbo muffin pan with muffin papers and spray the papers with nonstick spray.  Spoon the batter evenly into the papers, stopping 1/2 inch from the top (133 grams each).  Sprinkle 30 grams/3 tablespoons of the streusel atop each muffin.  (If you use the panettone molds, spray each lightly with non-stick spray and fill to within 1 inch of the top, about 115 grams each.  Top with 15grams/1 1/2 tablespoons streusel.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 28 to 31 minutes).  Place the pan in the oven, lower the temperature to 325F, and bake for 35 to 38 minutes until the muffins are golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  Set the pan on a cooling rack and cool completely.  Muffins can be wrapped individually and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 week. 
**To measure the eggs:  beat 2 large eggs in a small bowl, push them through a strainer and then measure the amount you need for the recipe.
(from “Bouchon Bakery” by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel) 



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