I think the world would be a better place if everyone ate more muffins. Have you ever been upset while eating a muffin? Or if you were upset when you started, were you upset by the time you finished? Probably not. And if you were, you probably just got a bad one.
Muffins could be world–changers because they’re such wonderful equalizers. Their recipes are often basic, they don’t require lots of expensive cooking gear, and though I wouldn’t call them foolproof (you can over-mix a muffin to a sad, tough death), they don’t call on fancypants skills that only formally trained chefs possess.
Yesterday, Jared, who is a graduate student at Duke University, came home and informed me that one of his classes spent a modest amount of time discussing the appropriate labeling of the muffin: Is it a pastry, or is it a baked good? (Apparently the instructor appeared in class with a muffin that day, to which one student said, “That’s a nice-looking pastry.” Quite expectantly, debate ensued.) So, you see? The great equalizer. Muffins can simultaneously squelch our hunger, raise our moods and give our nation’s great young minds reason to continue their quest for knowledge.
Perhaps these strawberry and banana muffins won’t change the world at large, but I bet they’d make your family pretty happy. And little change can lead to big change. Isn’t that what they say? Maybe muffins can move mountains.
Strawberry Banana Muffins
• 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• ½ teaspoon baking soda
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan
• ⅔ cup sugar
• 2 eggs, lightly beaten
• 2 teaspoons vanilla
• 2 ripe bananas, mashed
• ¾ cup chopped strawberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and butter 12 muffins cups (you could line them with paper liners if you’d prefer). Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and set it aside.
In a large bowl, beat the butter with a hand mixer until it’s creamy, then gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat well.
In a small bowl, give the strawberries a light mashing with a fork, then transfer them to a mesh sieve and squeeze all the excess water out of them. The muffins won’t bake up right if they’re too watery. Add the strawberries to the bananas, and stir to combine.
Back to the butter/sugar/egg mixture: Add the dry ingredients alternately with the banana/strawberry mixture, adding just a bit of each at a time. Beat after each addition until smooth (but don’t mix any longer than you have to).
Fill muffin cups nearly full, and bake them for 15 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out barely clean. Remove the muffins from the pan as soon as you’re able, and allow them to cool on a cooling rack.
So where do you stand on the great muffin debate? Pastry? Baked good? Doesn’t matter as long as they make my tummy happy?
And the debate rages on.