Banana. That's been the suffix to my name for as long as I can remember. DanaBanana. And since the 'dana' part of my name is pronounced like the last two syllables of the edible yellow fruit of the lovely Musa genus, I usually introduce myself as "Dana, like banana." To which most people then usually respond, “Oh, Dana,”....with a long “a” sound. Hm, do you say ba-nay-na and I say ba-nah-na??
"Banana!" is how J usually calls to me when we're separated at a yellable distance. Heads always turn with that, “What did he call her?” look. Although I thought it was slightly deprecating when I was younger, I’ve grown attached to its sound. DanaBanana. I LIKE it!
Good thing, because I also happen to like bananas. I’ve always got fresh ones around: the big ones like Cavendish, the little finger bananas, the little red ones. And ripe chunks in the freezer – ready for smoothies, cake, or muffins. And does anything smell better than banana muffins baking? Mm, laden with toasted walnuts, chocolate, and perfumed with vanilla.
Banana muffins were the first recipe I sought to deglutenize when I went gluten-free. I’d been using a recipe based on one Nini Belle had given to me years ago that I’d already changed up by using whole wheat, flax seeds, and omitting the egg. Could it be that much harder to also make it gluten-free?
I came up with a combination of flours that seemed to work right off the bat: brown rice, tapioca, sorghum, and teff. I’m sure you could substitute for anyone of them, but this mixture always works great for me. And you can fancy-schmancy the muffins with whipped cream, buttercream, glaze. Or do as I sometimes do, and bake the batter in two small cake pans and serve in wedges or squares, maybe with an anglaise. Or leave out the chocolate – NOT. Leave out the nuts; add coconut; add different spices. Like the varieties of bananas, the possibilities are many. But like bananas, get these homemade muffins while you can – they’re an endangered species – so you can say, “Yes, we have no banana muffins."
The Best (Dana) Banana Muffins (gluten-free and vegan)
1 good cup mashed bananas (I usually use 3 really ripe bananas)
2/3 cups sugar
1/3 cup coconut oil (or olive, grapeseed, etc.)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup soymilk (or other milk, or even orange juice)
1 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup each of tapioca, sorghum, and teff flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
good 1/2 cup chocolate chunks
good 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line muffin pan with liners. Or butter 2 small (6” diameter) cake pans.
2. Mash the bananas and stir in the sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and milk.
3. Mix together all remaining ingredients, except chocolate and nuts.
4. Stir the dry ingredients into the banana mixture. When it’s just about mixed, stir in the chocolate and nuts. Spoon into the muffin or cake pans and bake, about 13-15 minutes for the muffins and about 20 minutes for the cakes.
5. Cool (at least long enough not to burn your tongue!!) and enjoy.
Note: Use really ripe bananas – the flavor reward is all the greater. Thus, the reason for the frozen banana chunks – just thaw and they’re ready to use.