Let's get something out of the way though: all classic-ness aside, as a summer berry fiend--why did I really make these? There was a single, sad, browning banana sitting in the fridge that was calling out for help and primed for bread-baking or muffin baking.
And yet, despite its omnipresence, I always find banana bread is a fickle nut to crack: do you use three bananas for a standard loaf? Four or five? A mixer? Just your arms? Recipes run the gamut. Less flour? More? Any milk/yogurts/creams? Everyone seems to think their method works better. Not to mention using oil, melted butter or creamed butter. It's all up for grabs, it all turns out a baked banana something but my suspicion is we'll keep debating what works best.
Dorie Greenspan in which she calls for not three but two, large bananas. Bingo. So, I'd halve it for a small muffin batch--my almost favorite thing to bake.
These muffins are not dressed up much, and I think that is precisely what makes them themselves. They are a nutless, coconut-less, straightforward, muffin version of a basic banana bread/cake but there are a few things that set them apart. The butter here is creamed with just enough sugar and kept moist with sour-cream. With a flour ratio already on the more minimal side, I decided to mix just a little whole wheat into the ratio, too. They are light and airy and just so good halved, warmed a tad and slicked with a dollop of honey and/or butter.
Before I share the recipe, I'll leave you with some muffin philosophy. Whenever I meet a muffin I'm interested in, I first analyze when I'd have to bake it off in order to enjoy it at its prime. There's no use in making blueberry muffins, for example, the day before only to have them go soggy on you (especially in this weather...) the next morning. Banana, bran, (and even some corn) though? They, depending on their ingredients, tend to hold up differently. And when possible, I'd like to have breakfast within a half hour of waking up. This bran muffin, as I've shared, gets better over its 1-4 day shelf life. This banana muffin was also splendid the next day.
Dorie Greenspan's Little Banana Cakes
Adapted from Dorie
Notes: What you see below is a halved batch. It will yield 5 or 6 muffins. Feel free to double it, or bake it for 60 minutes in a loaf pan (if doubled) for a classic bread form. I found 28 minutes to be sufficient for these muffins. Keep an eye after 24 minutes though. Sugar: sweetness is rather personal. With the recipe calling for 1/2 cup and banana already being sweet, I dialed it to between 1/4 and 1/2 and it was great that way.
3/4 cup (90 grams) all-purpose flour (MN note: I used about 60 grams all purpose and 30 grams whole wheat)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
*1/4-1/2 cup sugar (see headnote)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 (27 grams) large egg, at room temperature
1 very ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup sour cream (full-fat yogurt is doable too)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter 5 or 6 regular-size muffin cups.
Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, then the egg, beating for a little under minute. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the banana. Scrape down as needed.
Mix in half the dry ingredients, all the sour cream and then the rest of the flour mixture. Do not over-mix. Batter should be lumpy-ish. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.
Bake the little cakes for about 27 to 31 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Transfer the muffin tin to a rack, cool for 3 minutes, then gently turn the little cakes out of the tin. Cool to room temperature on a rack.
Wrapped airtight, the little cakes will keep at room temperature for a day or two (watch the weather though) or in the freezer for a month.