Friday, April 30, 2010

Banana Date Muffins

This is one of the first foods I made where I removed the sugar completely, and it is in muffins!!  The trick is to let your bananas get really ripe and also to freeze them.  The riper banana has more natural sugar so there is no need to add more.  I also never make banana muffins where the bananas have not first been frozen.  And don't pour out the juice that comes when they thaw - it all makes for a delicious moist muffin - without sugar!!  We also like the crunch of the healthy toasted walnuts and the bites of sweet dates that simulate the chocolate chips I used to use to fill my banana muffins!  So give them a try or come on over cause I make them almost every week!!

Banana Date Muffins

4 frozen bananas (about 1 1/2 cups) - thawed and mashed
1 egg
1/3 cup butter - melted
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce ** (increased from 1/4 c.)
1 1/2 cups spelt flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup chopped dates (approximately)
1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces (approximately)

Preheat the oven to 375F.
In a large bowl, mash the banana, add the melted butter, egg and applesauce.  Mix well.  I then add the salt, soda and powder and stir.  Add the flour and stir slightly, then add in the final dates and nuts and stir until just combined.

Scoop into a greased muffin pan and bake for 15 - 17 minutes or until  the centers spring back when touched.
Makes 12 muffins.

Cook's notes:
Nuts always taste better when slightly toasted before used in baking.  I usually do mine in the toaster oven but can also be done on the stove in a skillet.  Simply toast and stir occasionally until you smell a wonderful warm, buttery nutty smell.

Dates - use scissors to cut them.  Much faster and easier than a knife.  I strongly suggest buying dates loose in bulk.  They are the cheapest and easiest to use for cutting up. 

Rating: 5 Star!!
We love these and they are always in my freezer. 

Spelt Buttermilk Pancakes redone

I had a dream of the perfect family breakfast this morning with fluffy pancakes, bacon, fresh fruit and orange juice...but that did not quite happen that way.  Let's admit it, pancakes need to be eaten fresh once they are done cooking, not put on a plate and held until all the cakes are done.  Nooooooo.  So right there, it does not really work as a family sit-down meal.  But regardless, it is still an enjoyable breakfast even if the "chef" is the last to eat.

I thought I had a great recipe but then I was inspired by the buttermilk pancake recipe I found in Fine Cooking Dec09/Jan10 issue.  They looked so light and fluffy and delicious I had to try it - with spelt and no extra sugar.  Why do they add sugar to something we ladden with syrup?!?  So here is our new delicious recipe that will now be our staple.  Sorry I cannot take pictures like they do in the magazine.  Trust me, they are great.
See the notes below if you don't have spelt and xanthan gum.

Spelt Buttermilk Pancakes

2 cups spelt flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 - 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
2 cup milk or rice milk * see notes below
2 Tbsp vinegar
2 eggs - lightly beaten
3 Tbsp melted butter

Combine the milk and vinegar and allow to sit to "sour" before being mixed in.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, powder, soda, salt and xantham gum.
In a medium bowl, mix the "buttermilk" and eggs and pour into the dry ingredients.  Stir until just combined.  Add the melted butter and gently stir until the batter is evenly moistened (there will be lumps).  Let the batter rest while you heat the griddle.

Preheat the griddle (375F) or skillet (medium to medium low), lightly season the surface with butter.  Pour the batter onto the griddle for each pancake ( about 1/3 cup of batter for each).  Let them cook until the edges appear to be set and bubbles rise to surface.  The top surface should still look wet.  Flip the pancakes and continue to cook until the second side is nicely browned. 

 Transfer the pancakes to a waiting recipient so they can start eating while the pancakes are freshest and most enjoyable...or put on a platter and wait until the rest of the batter is cooked.

Serve with butter, pure maple syrup and fresh fruit!

Cook's notes: 
Milk:  The original recipe calls for buttermilk and one can substitute that with milk and vinegar as noted in the ingredient list.  I have also done this recipe with rice milk and yogurt (1 cup of each) and that works too.  Or you could do the original 2 cups of buttermilk if you have.
Xanthan Gum: If you don't have Xanthan gum, you can still make these successfully with spelt flour or white flour if you prefer, however, the texture is better and the pancakes stay fluffy when Xanthan is used with spelt.
Lumpy Batter: I saw a cooking show on the perfect pancakes and to my surprise, they insist on leaving lumps in the batter.  So I had to try it and am now a firm believer - lumps make better pancakes.   I think it works because the batter is not whipped like one would need to do to get  the lumps all out.  Be sure to leave the lumps.

Rating: 5 Star!
A basic recipe but they are delicious and easy too.  The perfect weekend breakfast!