This was a beautiful weekend. Snowpocalypse II really brought out the beauty in DC – both in the snow covered landscape, and in the sense of community and neighborliness it sparked in DC residents. Snowball fights, people walking in middle of the snow-filled streets, neighbors chatting with each other as they shoveled snow – everyone was downright friendly during Snowpocalypse II. I know it’s easy for me to say that given that I live in the city and wasn’t stranded out in the suburbs due to the lack of above-ground metro access like DC Thrifty Cook, and I didn’t lose power like Mango and Tomato. But it’s heartwarming to see people breaking out of their shells in the face of the snow.
On Saturday night, I decided that I needed to get out of the house or go crazy with some serious cabin fever, so I put the call out on Facebook, Twitter, and the Adams Morgan listserv to see if anyone wanted to meet up at The Black Squirrel for drinks. To lure people out, I brought along banana muffins to share, and even ended up giving some to the Squirrel’s hungry servers.
Now, I have a hard time classifying these particular banana muffins – sometimes I want to call them cupcakes, and sometimes I want to call them muffins. I actually made them using my banana bread recipe, which is less sweet than a full-blown cake, and has a rich banana flavor. Since bananas are so sweet, I used half whole wheat flour, which gives them a slightly coarser crumb and darker flavor. I also upped the amount of salt, which helps balance the sweetness of the fruit. And unlike a lot of banana bread recipes, this one uses butter, which gives the cake a rich, almost savory note, and helps keep it moist and fluffy.
Because there’s so much flavor in the cake, it doesn’t need a lot of frosting to jazz it up – another reason that puts these confections in the muffin camp. I topped mine with sour cream and lemon icing, which helps bring out the sweet and salty notes of the banana cake. The icing has so much flavor that all you need is a thin layer – too much and it would overwhelm the cake.
Today is a snow day for me – the DC Federal Government is closed, most likely because the snowstorm has shut down above-ground Metro access and no one from the suburbs can get to work. So if you’re stuck at home and have some bananas going bad (as happens so often with supermarket bananas), then I think you should make these muffins. Then put the call out to your neighbors and see if anyone else is getting cabin fever. Meet up at someone’s house, at your favorite bar, at a local coffee shop, and bring these muffins to share. Maybe you’ll make some new friends, or find out something new about the people in your community. It’s a snow day – it’s time to be social.
Recipe: Banana Muffins with Lemon Sour Cream Icing
Makes 18 muffins
For the banana muffins:
2 large bananas, very ripe
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus two tablespoons all-purpose unbleached white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line one and a half muffin tins with paper liners (18 total).
In a small bowl, mash bananas until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and lightly whisk until combined.
Place dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and beat on low for 30 seconds to blend. Add the butter and 1/3 of the banana mixture to the bowl and mix on low speed until blended. Increase speed to medium high and beat for 1 and 1/2 minutes, to aerate the batter and form cake’s structure. Add the remaining banana mixture in two batches: pour a little in, mix on high for 20 seconds, scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the second batch.
Pour batter into the prepared muffin tins, filling each 1/2 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a cake tester or knife inserted in a muffins’ center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing muffins to rack to completely. Ice with sour cream and lemon icing (recipe follows).
For the sour cream and lemon icing
Juice of 1/2 lemon (approximately 1 tbs)
1 and 1/2 tbs sour cream
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
In a small bowl, mix together sour cream and lemon juice until combined. Gradually whisk in the powdered sugar, until your icing reaches desired consistency – it should be thin and slightly runny.