I get on very well with muffins. Not for nothing were they among the first baked goods in my cooking arsenal. There are two, and only two, cardinal rules to successful muffin-making: combine all the wet ingredients with all the dry ingredients at the last minute, and don’t overmix. They’re fast and easy. And, if you’re making them right, muffins come in hearty portions which is always, always a good thing.
I love that muffins are insistently accompanied by a sit down and a sigh. Even the name sounds like a pillow. At this time of year muffins are fortification in the darkness to shoppers, card-writers and the domestically overwrought, i.e. me. Muffins will keep you smiling as you let that jolly, beardy daytripper take all the credit for your excellent present choices.
My muffin of the month swings from light and lovely to dark and dastardly in the same mouthful, all floral with banana and vanilla, spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg and then revealing nuggets of dark chocolate deep within.
This is a really adaptable recipe. Once you’ve munched your way through the first batch I recommend trying an apple, walnut and sultana version (replace the bananas with apple, the chocolate with walnuts, and then add a good handful of soaked sultanas).
Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins
Inspired by Nigel Slater’s banana, chocolate and muscovado loaf cake in Kitchen Diaries II
250g plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
170ml light olive oil
200g dark brown soft sugar
100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
2 large or 3 small bananas (around 250g peeled weight)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan).
Line a muffin tray with paper cases.
Mix the flour, baking powder and bicarb well and then sift into a bowl.
Beat the oil, sugar and eggs together – use a mixer if you have one, if not, give it some muscle.
Mash the banana and then stir in the vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add to the oil and sugar mixture.
Add the flour, stir till just combined and then add the chopped chocolate with a final turn of the spoon.
Spoon the batter into the muffin cases, making sure to distribute the chocolate fairly (or you’ll get complaints) and then place in the oven straight away.
Bake for around 20 minutes. When done, the tops will be golden, firm and will spring back when pressed lightly.