Have you ever seen such a forlorn fruit bowl? A couple of pomegranates – fresh from the tree in the garden of Erol’s garage, where our car had its pre-MOT checks this week – alongside the inevitable black bananas (see last week’s post) and a lonely as-yet-unripe avocado.
Last week’s banana drizzle cake had an undignified ending. Having no Tupperware box the right size or shape, I put half in the freezer and wrapped the rest in clingfilm and put it inside the cold oven, where I thought it would be safe from the attentions of Annie Cat (the four-legged midnight stealth shopper). It had companions in the form of a half loaf of soda bread and some leftover simits. I am sure you can guess where this is going – the following day when I turned on the oven, I only remembered they were there when I smelled the plastic melting. The banana bread was totally shrink-wrapped in a coffin of melted clingfilm. Its friends were similarly entombed and also had to be jettisoned. Ooops.
Never mind, needless to say, as you can see in the photo, yet more black bananas awaited my attentions – no less than four of them this time.
As they were super squidgy, I decided they would be perfect as the base for some vegan muffins. Any kind of fruit purée works wonders when you can’t use an egg – it helps to provide bulk and to bind the mixture, as well as providing extra flavour. I added a cornflour ‘egg’ by way of insurance to help stop everything falling to pieces, but otherwise I followed my normal muffin recipe. I replaced the dairy milk with almond milk and a teaspoon of vinegar, which helps the raising agents to do their stuff.
The large quantity of bananas means that you don’t need to add too much extra sugar, and the fruit and nuts add even more flavour and some extra nutrients. I reckon these would make a great breakfast, packed lunch or picnic fodder. I used part wholemeal flour and part white flour – you could replace some of the flour with oatmeal or oatbran for extra fibre and texture if you wish. Please note that the oil is weighed, rather than measured in a jug – this is because my original recipe contained butter.
If you only have three bananas, just use all of them in the mixture and dispense with the banana topping – the nuts and sugar will still give your muffins a lovely crunchy carapace.
I would defy anyone to notice that these muffins contain no eggs or dairy products. They rose beautifully, had a deliciously soft, light centre and a slightly chewy fudgy top layer. Their only small downside was that they slightly stuck to the muffin papers – I have a feeling this is because I bought a job-lot of cheap muffin papers from Hobbycraft when I was in the UK. (Note to self: stick to Lakeland or Dr Oetker, which are made from good quality non-stick baking paper – you gets what you pays for).
Banana fruit and nut muffins – egg-free, dairy-free, vegan
Makes 12 – 15, depending on the size of your scoop (my mix made 14)
1 tablespoon cornflour (cornstarch)
3 – 4 very ripe bananas
85g vegetable oil
175ml non-dairy milk mixed with 1 teaspoon rice vinegar (or any other white vinegar)
100g brown sugar (I used Demerara)
200g plain flour
75g wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
75g walnuts, finely chopped
100g raisins or sultanas
Extra brown sugar for sprinkling
Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC and line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper muffin liners. (You may need an additional tin, or you could line some pudding cups or ramekins for any extra mixture – they won’t be quite the same shape, but it matters not. Alternatively, you can bake the muffins in batches – the mixture won’t come to any harm sitting for a while).
In a small cup or ramekin, dissolve the cornflour in 3 tablespoons of cold water, stirring until it is completely smooth.
Put three of the (skinned) bananas into a large mixing bowl with the brown sugar and mash with a fork until most of it is a purée – a few lumpy bits are good, then you get little chewy banana bites in your muffins.
Add the cornflour mix, along with the cinnamon, oil and non-dairy milk/vinegar. Whisk together until combined (the oil will rise to the surface – this isn’t important).
Sieve in the flours, raising agents and cinnamon, then mix with a rubber spatula or metal spoon until the mixture is well-combined. It doesn’t matter if it looks a bit lumpy, as long as there are no big lumps of unmixed flour. Stir in two thirds of the nuts and all of the raisins or sultanas.
Divide the mixture between the muffin cases, top each with a slice of banana (if you don’t have a fourth banana, just miss this step), then sprinkle with the remaining walnuts and a little brown sugar.
Bake for 20 minutes, turn the trays around, then bake for a further five minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to cool in the tin for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a cooling tray.