Thursday, June 19, 2008

Knitters have to eat, too (no-mess muffins)

Somehow, the recent lovely summer weather had put knitting out of mind. It may be heresy, but working with fiber has temporarily lost its appeal. Yet even when you put down your knitting, you still have to eat. Here is a recipe for no-mess banana muffins. There is hardly any clean-up and you can prepare ahead so you can pop these in the oven with very little delay.
The following recipe makes 12 standard size muffins.

The trick to making these muffins no-mess is to use a zippered plastic bag.
step 2: GET READY
Put muffin papers (aka "baking cups") into your muffin pan and pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Into your zipper bag, put
*1 3/4 cups of flour (white is tastiest, whole wheat pastry flour is a good runner-up)
*1/3 or 1/2 cup of sugar (avoiding white sugar? substitute the same amount of maple syrup BUT add the syrup to the wet ingredient in step 4)
*2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
*1/4 teaspoon salt.
Seal the zipper, check the seal, then shake the bag until all dry ingredients are well-mixed.
Into your blender, put
*1 banana (can be a super-ripe one you no longer care to eat)
*1 egg (vegan? substitute 3 oz tofu)
*1/2 cup milk (diary milk or soy milk, makes no difference)
*1/4 cup oil (avoiding oil? substitute 1/3 cup applesauce for the oil)
Whirl this mixture around until smooth. If substituting maple syrup for sugar, add the syrup in this step.
Open the zipper bag, pour the blender contents in, and re-seal bag, pressing out as much air as possible. Mash the mixture together, working the dry ingredients out of the corners. TIP: Radically reduce your clean-up time by taking a minute to fill the blender body 1/3 full of water, add a few drops of dish soap and run the blender at high speed until it fills with suds. Then, let the blender sit there soaking until you have the muffins in the oven.

Work the muffin batter into the bottom the zipper bag by repeatedly drawing the bag between thumb and forefinger. When the mixture is at the bottom, open the zipper to allow in air. Reseal the zipper, test the seal, gather the top of the bag in your non-dominant hand and twist it several times, then tilt bag and squeeze gently so the air bubble is pressing the batter into one corner of the bag. With a scissors, cut the tip off the corner, lopping off about 3/4 inch along the long edge of the cut. Gently squeeze a small amount of batter into each of the muffin papers.
Lay the bag of batter aside, cut tip up, so it does not ooze batter onto the counter. Into the batter in the bottom of each muffin paper, press whatever yummies you think would be good--walnuts, pecans, raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, dried blueberries, diced dried apricots, whatever.

Press equal amounts of the remaining batter into each muffin paper, then bake in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees until done (about 12-15 minutes). If unsure, test with a cake tester or a toothpick. Let the muffins cool in the tin. If you insist on eating them hot, the bottom crusts will stick to the papers, but once cool, the papers can be drawn off without too much loss of muffin.

*Preheat oven to 400 degrees
*Line muffin tin with muffin papers (no need to grease them)

*1 3/4 cups of flour
*1/3 or 1/2 cup of sugar
*2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
*1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt.
*1 banana
*1 egg
*1/2 cup milk, adding a couple of tablespoons if either the banana or the egg is small.
*1/4 cup oil

*chopped nuts, any kind
*raisins or dried fruit

* mix first 4 ingredients in a plastic zipper bag--these are the "dry ingredients"
*blend together banana, egg, milk, oil --these are the "wet ingredients"
*combine wet and dry ingredients in the zipper bag, exclude air from bag, then mash dry and wet ingredients together until fairly uniform
*work mixture to bottom of bag, open bag and let in a big air bubble, then reseal the bag
*cut one corner off zipper bag, and, using the zipper bag as a pastry bag, squeeze small amount of batter into each prepared muffin paper
*add optional ingredients (nuts, raisins, etc)
*finish filling muffin papers

*Bake at 400 degrees until tops are brown and cake tester comes out clean (12-15 minutes).
*Let cool for easiest unwrapping.

As you can imagine, it is possible to mix together the dry ingredients the night before, so all you have to do for breakfast muffins is pop the wet ingredients into the blender, then pour those into the bag in the AM. Heck, you can keep several ready-made bags of muffin mix in the pantry, so you can have muffins any time you like.

At clean-up time, your muffin pan isn't usually messy because you didn't grease the papers, and the squeezing trick helps avoid dribbling batter onto the tin. The zipper bag gets tossed. The blender is a very quick wash-up if, as soon as you empty the blender, you take a minute to fill the blender with a little water, a few drops of soap and then a quick whirl to fill the blender with soap suds. In fact, with this pre-soaking method, there is usually no wash up of the blender at all--just a rinse.

--Good appetite from TECHknitter (You have been reading TECHknitting on: "no mess muffins")


martha in mobile said...

A very good recipe -- and the graphics put it waaaaay over the top! said...

You are a genius. I'm never ladling batter into cups again!

lookinout said...

That's a marvelous layout of a recipe. But the other side of using plastic bags is more plastic in the landfill. However your trick on the blender is perfect.

--TECHknitter said...

Hi Gillian--Yes, you are right. It is, sadly, another plastic bag. On the plus side? Maybe a trick to avoid clean-up will cause more home made food, and less driving to the store to buy ready-made food which had to be made in a factory and delivered by a truck?

elaines630 said...

I wish I was at home so I could make these right now!! What a wonderful and easy recipe! Thank you so much!

Chelsea said...

If only this worked with paper bags. Oh well, I still may have to employ this trick on those days when I am in the mood to save water by not doing dishes!

floribunda said...

sounds yummy -- now where did those over-ripe bananas disappear to? Hope they haven't gone into the compost bin already...

Maureen said...

Wonderful! I tried them with maple syrup but the flavor wasn't pronounced in the final product and I think I'd use sugar next time given the difference in cost of the two sweeteners.

auntiemichal said...

I had the same thought on the plastic bag, but remembered that the cut corner could be sealed shut with a seal-a-meal device (non-vacuum versions are cheap at thrift stores and garage sales). Wash the bag and use at least once more.

Oh, wait! I wonder if you could do this in a bread bag? Just tie a knot or rubberband the top...

Thanks for the tutorial!

Marianne said...

Oh my gosh - this is PURE GENIUS! I love the idea of the no mess muffins.

Emicha said...

I just discovered your blog and love it. I love it even more now that you've combined two of my favorite things - knitting and baking!

Mixing the wet and dry ingredients in a plastic bag is a great idea. Just a few things I would add: first, for the tenderest muffins, only mix the wet and dry together until JUST combined (you should really still see some small streaks of flour) flour + water = gluten = chewiness.

Second, if the muffins tend to stick to the paper, give each paper cup a quick shot of non-stick baking spray before filling with batter and that oughta loosen things up.

Third, the plastic bags may be recyclable in some areas (ask your local recycling centers).

Thanks so much for all the great information!

Mish said...

Yup, you're a genius. This is going to revolutionize my muffin making. Thanks!

Sue said...

A spring-loaded scoop works very well too for filling muffin cups. I like to mix my muffins in a large bowl using only a fork to stir. For me this is an even easier cleanup than using a blender.