We have guests arriving at our rental cottage this evening – they have stayed with us before, so at least when they arrive in the middle of the night, they know where they are aiming for.
Guests are pretty thin on the ground this year – the threat of terrorism after the recent bombs in Istanbul, the refugee situation and the little spat between our government and Russia means that many tourists are choosing to holiday elsewhere.
Çukurbaĝ, where our cottage is situated, is a sleepy little almond-farming village, which is set on a high plain above the sea. On a clear day, you can just see the sea in the distance across the almond orchards – unfortunately, we get very few clear days in summer, so most of our guests don’t get the best of the view. They need to come back in February for that, when the almonds are in blossom, but it is so cold we don’t even bother to open up the house during the winter.
I decided on banana muffins for the treat – if our guests are not hungry when they arrive, they will be even more delicious by breakfast time tomorrow morning – and they are quick to bake and easy to transport.
The recipe is very easy and you can mix up the batter in the time it takes for the oven to heat. I saw that I had made a note on my recipe that, last time, the mix made 18 muffins – unless you are feeding a lot of people, that is quite a lot! I’ve halved the recipe this time and it divided perfectly into nine, but obviously you can double the quantities if you want to.
Banana maple walnut muffins
You will need a muffin pan lined with paper muffin cases
2 very ripe bananas (you’ll probably only need about half of the second one)
175g self-raising flour
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
50g brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup (Turkish bakers – you can use pekmez instead)
40ml vegetable oil
125ml plain yoghurt
A handful of walnuts, chopped
Extra brown sugar for sprinkling
Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
In a large bowl, mash one of the bananas to a paste with a fork. Pour the oil and maple syrup into a measuring jug, then add the egg and finally the yoghurt (this way, even if the yoghurt is a bit solid, you can still measure it easily). Beat the wet ingredients together until they are well combined, then add them to the mashed banana, along with the brown sugar. Mix well until you have a smooth mixture – a wire whisk is the best tool for this job.
Add the flour and bicarb and give every a really good mix until fairly smooth – don’t overmix or the muffins will be tough. Add most of the walnuts, leaving a few pieces for the topping.
Scoop the batter into the muffin cases – a spring-action ice cream scoop is best for this. Slice the remaining banana and put a slice on top of each muffin, along with a few pieces of walnut. Sprinkle with brown sugar.
Bake for 20 minutes – the muffins should be golden and well risen. You may need to turn the tray around half way through if they are browning more on one side than the other.