So, I’ve been working on these Whole Wheat Buttermilk Banana Nut Muffins since February.
They didn’t start out as this exactly. I was just bent on developing a great banana muffin. I first mentioned them in my Dutch Apple Pie Muffin post, because a banana muffin was the recipe I was planning to make that day, until my reserved ripe bananas ended up in a post work out smoothie. Since then, I’ve made at least 6 or more attempts at a great banana muffin. The problem is, we don’t always have over ripe bananas hanging around, so the planets have to align on the day I want to make the muffins. And then if I do have bananas hanging around, there’s usually only enough to make one or two batches/test trials.
So that’s what I would do…make one or two batches, switching and changing things around each time. Then weeks or months would pass and I would do it again. Every time I went into banana muffin mode, I would start over with a completely new idea…using different fats, different liquids, different add ins. With so much time passing between each trial, I would get inspired to try different things looking to make something a little unique. And, as usual, they were all good, but not good enough.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking what’s the big deal about a banana muffin? They’re a dime a dozen. (I must be channeling my mother with that old phrase. You can’t get a dozen anything for a dime these days.) When you start testing them, you notice different levels of sweetness, moisture, texture and overall banana flavor. When you start comparing recipe after recipe, suddenly banana muffins have nuances (yes, I did just use nuance and banana in the same sentence :) that you might not have noticed when grabbing a quick muffin to go.
Last week, when I saw some over ripe bananas staring me down from the fruit bowl, I thought, “Here we go again.” This time, I decided to make a classic banana nut muffin. I had my notes on the other 6+ trials to learn from and instead of lots of bells and whistles, I simply wanted to create a good wholesome muffin with as much banana flavor as I could pack into it. Muffin recipes can tend to be high in fat and sugar. I wanted this one to be one you could feel a little better about eating, so I started with whole wheat.
My secret weapon for whole wheat baking is using whole wheat pastry flour. I love it because you don’t have to split it with all purpose flour as some recipes call for. You can just use it as the only flour and know that your texture won’t be too heavy or “wheaty.” I use it in Dutch Apple Pie Muffins, Whole Wheat Gingerbread Pancakes and Raspberry Rugelach, just to name a few. They are all delicious and beloved and the fact that they’re whole grain never really comes up because they just taste so good.
My other secret weapon in the recipe is buttermilk. I love, love, love using buttermilk and the more recipes I can develop using it the better. Why? Because buttermilk is a refrigerator staple for me. I know that if I have it on hand, I can make Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits, or Cream of Wheat Griddlecakes or 10 Minute Buttermilk Caramel Sauce. I’ll also add it into scrambled eggs which makes them fluffy and tender.
Buttermilk was what finally made these muffins a success for me. I simply needed to get my liquid, sugar, flour and banana ratios right and we had a winner. It’s full of really true banana flavor. (It’s funny…when you don’t have the right ratio of sugar and moisture in the muffin, the banana flavor can get lost.) The muffin has a wonderful fluffy open crumb, not a dense banana bread texture. I decided to add nuts only to the top, so they could get toasty and sweet from a generous sprinkling of raw sugar. These are slam dunk delicious Whole Wheat Buttermilk Banana Nut Muffins. They were a long time coming…
but well worth the wait.