Monday, November 8, 2010

Banana Crumb Muffins

My husband and I have one of the coolest kitchen tools. We came upon it by chance, and I had no idea what it was at the time. We were visiting his extended family in Wyoming and his cousin just happened to be home. She was going to college in Alaska and had brought home a gift for her mom. The gift was an ulu.

We were in the right place at the right time, because Alex's aunt already owned an ulu and the gift was just sitting there without a home. Alex's cousin asked us if we wanted it, and we accepted it happily. I'll be honest. It just looks cool. It has quickly become my go-to tool for chopping things, particularly nuts.

Having a 2-year old has made bananas become a staple in the home. I sometimes will buy the biggest bunch I can find so that I will have a few leftover to make something yummy. I decided to branch out from my regular banana bread and found a banana crumb muffin recipe.

I don't know what it is about this recipe, but my hunch is that it's the crumb topping that makes it so delicious. My daughter loved them, my husband loved them, and I loved them. It was a winner all around. The recipe didn't call for nuts, but I always add walnuts to anything baked with banana.

Banana Crumb Muffins
Adapted from recipe by Lisa Kreft

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.

In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.

Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

Tres Leches Cake

I grew up in an area where you would find a Mexican restaurant on every other block, and it was GOOD food. So I'm not quite sure why I never had tried tres leches cake before. Maybe because I'm too cheap to order dessert in a restaurant. Or maybe it just sounded too fancy for me.

Three milk cake. Have you ever tried it? It's a sponge cake, and once you pour the three milks on it becomes very moist. Can you just see the liquid goodness coming out of that cake? It's also very sweet and rich. I could only handle one piece at a time. At three different times during the day.

Tres Leches Cake

from Alton Brown

For the cake:

Vegetable oil
6 3/4 ounces cake flour, plus extra for pan
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

8 ounces sugar

5 whole eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the glaze:
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup half-and-half

For the topping:

2 cups heavy cream

8 ounces sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions for the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour a 13 by 9-inch metal pan and set aside.
Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Decrease the speed to low and with the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar over 1 minute. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl, if necessary. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix to thoroughly combine. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine. Add the flour mixture to the batter in 3 batches and mix just until combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. This will appear to be a very small amount of batter. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cake is lightly golden and reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees F.
Remove the cake pan to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Poke the top of the cake all over with a skewer or fork. Allow the cake to cool completely and then prepare the glaze.
Directions for the glaze:
Whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and the half-and-half in a 1-quart measuring cup. Once combined, pour the glaze over the cake. Refrigerate the cake overnight.
Directions for the topping:
Place the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whisk together on low until stiff peaks are formed. Change to medium speed and whisk until thick. Spread the topping over the cake and allow to chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
PS - I hear Pioneer Woman has a good tres leches cake recipe as well. I may just have to try it out...