Procrastibaking: Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip Muffins

Greetings, future procrastibakers!

That’s right – procrastibaking – when you put off work by baking delicious treats (which you will then eat in order to fuel your capacity to do work).  Procrastibaking is a wonderful thing.  You can take a break from work, bake something wonderful, and share it with friends and colleagues who are just as stressed as you are.  You’ll get together and munch on yummy things, and one of them will ask you how your dissertation is going.  You’ll mumble at first, and then start to talk about an issue you’re having with a chapter.  As you explain your problem, you begin to develop a brilliant solution.  Eureka!  An epiphany!  Aren’t you glad you procrastibaked?

I mentioned at the end of last week’s entry that I wanted to try something new this week.  Behold, a recipe for banana walnut chocolate chip muffins!  The recipe and directions will be written twice here: once throughout the entry, and once at the very end of the entry.

The ladies who live on my floor (it’s an all-female dorm) are very familiar with these muffins.  I bake them once or twice a month, and they usually vanish overnight.  This recipe comes from Evelyn Raab’s The Clueless Baker, my all-time favorite cookbook.  The recipe is for banana bread, but I did not feel like purchasing a loaf pan when I got to England, and so I opted to use a muffin pan instead.  This actually turned out for the best, because muffins are more portable than a loaf, bake faster, are easier to store, and don’t dry out as quickly as a loaf does.

An important note before baking anything!

If you’re about to bake something, huzzah!  But please remember the following useful tips:

1. Read the ENTIRE recipe first.  I will very likely post things on here in the future that require things to be at room temperature, which is best achieved by leaving things out overnight.  I’m sure you’d hate to start a recipe and find that you have to delay your procrastibaking by even more hours.

2. Don’t just read the ingredients and throw everything into the same bowl at once!  Wet and dry ingredients usually need to be separated until the last moment.  There’s some science behind this that I would’ve understood if I hadn’t spent high school chemistry reading books for English class under my desk, but it mainly comes down to not throwing everything into the same bowl unless the directions specifically tell you to do so.  At a high school track team baking event years ago, two of my teammates threw all of the contents of a blueberry muffin recipe into a bowl.  The result was a liquidy mess of floating clumps of flour and blueberries.  If you do not heed this advice and this happens to you, throw the batter into a blender.  It won’t be pretty (I recall that we feasted on purple muffins that day), but they’ll be bake-able.

3. Make sure you always know where your oven mitt is.  Nothing’s worse than hearing the oven alarm go off and having nothing with which to remove the baked goods from the oven.

That’s all for now, but I’m sure I’ll find reasons to add more later.

Back to the muffins!  You’ll know when it’s time to make banana muffins when your bananas look like this:

The recipe calls for two bananas, but if you have two fairly small bananas, you'll need a third one.  Similarly, if you have two very large bananas, try to find a third large banana and make a double batch.
The recipe calls for two bananas, but if you have two fairly small bananas, you’ll need a third one. Similarly, if you have two very large bananas, try to find a third large banana and make a double batch.

At this point, you essentially have a moral obligation to make banana muffins.  I mean, where else are they going to go?  The garbage?  How dare you.

The recipe doesn’t call for walnuts and chocolate chips, but it’s suggested.  You can throw in whatever you want really: walnuts, pecans, chocolate chips, raisins, etc.  Just make sure there’s 3/4 of a cup of everything total in the mix.  These are my toppings:

Banana 1

Next, if you’re using them, chop your nuts and set your toppings on the side.  You’ll thank me later when you have your batter all ready to go, but no toppings prepared.  Then your batter will sit there getting super impatient while you chop walnuts.  Don’t leave your batter hanging like that.

I like to use 1/2 cup walnuts and 1/4 cup chocolate chips.  First, measure out your walnuts:

If you really want to get into a nut-chopping mood, might I suggest T-Swift's
If you really want to get into a nut-chopping mood, might I suggest T-Swift’s “Blank Space” as background music?

Now chop.  But not too much.

Banana 3

Then add the chocolate chips and set on the side.

Banana 4

Next, you’ll need your dry ingredients: flour, sugar, and baking soda:

Banana 5

Put 1 1/4 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 tsp baking soda in a large bowl:

Banana 6

Then mix with a sifter, whisk, or fork until well-combined and set aside:

Banana 7

Next, you’ll need your wet ingredients: seriously ripe bananas, vegetable oil, and eggs.

Banana 8

Now, if you have a blender, this next part is simple.  Put the 2 bananas, 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, and 2 eggs in the blender, and blend until it looks like a delightful banana smoothie (“smooth goo” is how Evelyn Raab describes it).  If you do not have a blender (which I do not here in the land of “all the outlets are different from American ones”), then follow these steps.  Break up the banana pieces into a medium-sized bowl:

Banana 9
If you’re wondering why this looks suspiciously like the bowl I used to mix the dry ingredients, it’s because I put the dry ingredients in the wrong bowl (my bad). I moved the dry ingredients into a larger bowl, cleaned this one out, and put the bananas in.

Grab a wooden spoon and mash the living daylights out of those bananas:

Was I mashing this to Tegan and Sara?  Um, heck yeah.
By this point, your kitchen will start to smell like bananas.  You’re welcome.

Now that they are sufficiently mashed, add 1/2 a cup of vegetable oil and 2 eggs:

Banana 11

You want to create a blender effect, so I use a whisk to mix everything together.  First, start slowly, otherwise vegetable oil will go flying everywhere, but once it looks like the ingredients are mostly combined, start whisking furiously for about 3-5 minutes.  If your arm doesn’t get tired, you aren’t whisking hard enough (hey, think of all the muffins you’ll have to eat to replenish those calories!).

Banana 12

Once you have a (near) blender-quality banana mixture, pour it into the bowl with the dry ingredients, and scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure all of that banana mixture goodness pours into the bowl:

Banana 13

Combine the wet and dry ingredients until just mixed.  Use a spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure there are no hidden pockets of flour:

Banana 14

Remember those toppings that you prepared in advance (because you’re just efficient like that)?  Add them in and mix until evenly dispersed:

Banana 15

Now that your batter is ready, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius) and line a muffin pan with muffin/cupcake cases.  You can also grease the pan with butter or use a cooking spray, but I think cupcake cases are generally less messy:

Banana 16
If you’re curious, I got the cupcake cases (and the muffin pan) from Lakeland.

Fill the pan as evenly as you possibly can.  I like to use the 1/4 cup measurement when I pour batter into muffin tins.  This recipe makes a dozen muffins (or one loaf!), so just try to use up all of the batter:

Banana 17
The bananas I used were a bit large, so the batter ended up coming pretty close to the top of each muffin case. They’re usually a bit lower than this.

Once your batter and the oven are good to go, bake for 20-23 minutes.  That means that after 20 minutes, stick a toothpick (I use a wooden chopstick) into a muffin.  If it comes out clean (traces of chocolate are considered clean in this case), then they’re done and you can remove them from the oven and onto a counter.  If the toothpick has clumps of batter on it, leave the muffins in for a couple more minutes and try again.  I left these in for 20 minutes:

A girl on my floor walked in and said,
Note the hole in the muffin on the lower righthand side.  That is where I plunged in a chopstick.  Happy to say it came out clean.

Let them cool for about five minutes before you try grabbing one from the pan.

Then, nom away!

Banana 19

The chocolate chips ended up sinking to the bottom of the muffin.  I think this was another side-effect of the large bananas.  Let that be a lesson to use slightly smaller bananas.
The chocolate chips ended up sinking to the bottom of the muffin. I think this was another side-effect of the large bananas. Let that be a lesson to use slightly smaller bananas.

Here’s the recipe:

Banana Muffins (adapted from Evelyn Raab’s The Clueless Baker) – yields a dozen muffins

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 seriously ripe bananas
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).  Line/grease a muffin pan.
2. Chop walnuts.  Combine with chocolate chips and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, and baking soda.
4. In a blender, add the bananas, vegetable oil, and eggs, and blend to a smooth goo.  If you do not have a blender, break up banana pieces into a medium-sized bowl and mash them until they are somewhat goopy.  Add vegetable oil and eggs and whisk until you achieve (near) blender consistency.
5. Add banana mixture to dry ingredients, scraping the sides with a spatula, and then mix until combined.
6. Add walnuts and chocolate chips.
7. Spoon batter into muffin cups.
8. Bake for 20-23 minutes, or until a toothpick/chopstick comes out clean.  Remove and let cool.
9. Enjoy!

Happy procrastibaking!  If you like what you’ve read and want more deliciousness in your inbox, please follow or subscribe!  Or, if you want to show your friends the awesome muffins that you’re going to bake in the near future, please share on the social media site of your choice!  Updates will be about once a week, alternating between recipes and bakery/café reviews.  Thanks for reading, and see you next week!

Val

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