April 27, 2010

banana pineapple walnut muffins

Lately, my Sunday mornings have been all about muffins. I don't know where this obsession came from, but it's here for now, and I'm more than happy to indulge it. I'm a muffin snob, so it's in the best interest of all involved that I make my own. (In general I despise bakery muffins - they usually fall into one of two unfortunate categories: the white sugar/white flour bombs and the depressingly leaden and dry whole wheat bricks). So there I was this past Sunday, just out of bed and instantly possessed by the now-familiar muffin fairy, turning on the oven and flying through fridge, freezer, and cabinets gathering the provisions, even before the filter had been plunged on the French press.

I like to start with the basic muffin recipe from Joy of Cooking and adapt as I go. It's a good blueprint -- straightforward and reliable, it tolerates lots of experimentation and always turns out good results. This time I replaced all-purpose flour with spelt flour, milk with yogurt, melted butter with olive oil, and white sugar with maple syrup. Inspired by leftover pineapple chunks in the fridge and memories of the incredible Hummingbird Cake from Buttercup Bake Shop in nyc, I decided to go with a banana-pineapple-nut combination. Shredded coconut would have been really good, too, but I was out.

The batter comes together in about 10 minutes, and before you know it a batch of golden, fragrant muffins are emerging from the oven. Little breakfast cakes that are moist, tender, and not too sweet - just how I like them.

Another bonus to these Sunday baking sessions: muffins for breakfast all week (if they last that long - need to ration!). I like to warm a muffin in the toaster oven, split it open, and slather it with almond butter (I am obsessed with the nut butters from Justin's right now). A perfect, light first breakfast to sustain me through each day's mass- transit-in-morning-rush-hour adventure. I have my second breakfast at work - lately it's been Seven Stars Farm plain yogurt with blueberries and ground flax seeds. I am a hungry girl, so that just about keeps me till lunch.

banana pineapple walnut muffins
makes 12 muffins
Shredded dried coconut would also be a nice addition to these muffins (about 1/4 cup), in which case melted virgin coconut oil would be great to use as the fat. You can also substitute pecans for the walnuts (the pecans in my freezer were of dubious age, so I used walnuts.)
1-3/4 cups whole spelt flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt (or kefir, or milk with a squeeze of lemon juice added)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (or melted coconut oil or melted butter), plus more for greasing muffin tin
2 bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp grated lemon zest

1/4 cup chopped fresh pineapple (1/4-inch dice) (you could also use canned or frozen - drain well)
2 Tbsp chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly grease muffin tin or line with paper muffin cups.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk wet ingredients until well combined.
  4. Pour wet mixture into dry and stir until just combined. Stir in pineapple and walnuts.
  5. Spoon batter into lightly greased muffin cups (about 1/3 cup each). Sprinkle more walnuts on top, and bake at 350 F for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden around the edges and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.


  1. I need to spend Sundays at your house. Loving the pineapple in a muffin. Never did that before, but now I will.

  2. Nancy, your recipe sounds so good. I want a muffin toasted and then slathered with almond butter...

  3. With all the crappy muffins out in the world, it's a good thing that you are muffin-obsessed these days! We NEED more good muffins. I love all your healthy substitutions. I do have some coconut in the house,a perfect addition to your pineapple. fantastic!

  4. Sounds good. I'm a muffin snob too, so I have given up on buying them. But when I make them myself, seems like I need to eat two to fill me up. so they're pretty caloric.

    I've never used spelt flour. What's that like? Is it as hardy as whole wheat? Also, can you taste the olive oil?

    And lastly, I have my second breakfast at work too. I smiled when I read that.

  5. Claudia: any time! This was my first time including pineapple in muffins and I really liked it.

    Amuse-Bouche: thanks! the almond butter goes so perfectly with these.

    Nancy: We definitely need more good muffins! I've been making quinoa muffins lately, too, will post those soon.

    Adair: glad to hear I'm not the only muffin snob around here! these muffins were on the small side, so I have no problem throwing back 2 (and maybe 3 if I'm famished).

    I LOVE baking with whole spelt flour, and have been using it in nearly everything these days. It seems to make lighter and more tender baked goods than whole wheat flour does -- and doesn't give that telltale whole wheat flavor that some people don't like. I have no problem using spelt as the only flour in a recipe, whereas with whole wheat I usually use half WW and half white AP flour.

    I could not taste the olive oil in the muffins; then again, I'm an olive oil fanatic and put it on nearly everything so I might not be the best judge! (I don't think my boyfriend could taste it either, though - or if he did he didn't mention it.)

  6. What a super idea to put pineapple in your muffins! And olive oil. I've been dying to try olive oil ice cream. Haven't done it yet though! But did see an olive oil cake someplace this week. I don't think you taste it in the cake. Wonder about the ice cream??

  7. These muffins sound great! I love the idea of adding shredded coconut and some coconut oil--I am totally obsessed with coconut! Great substitutions with the butter and maple syrup!

  8. thanks, Barbara! It's funny, I tried olive oil ice cream at a restaurant once and couldn't detect much of the flavor. Might have just been the variety I tried, though.

    I saw a dessert (on food network I think) of chocolate ice cream drizzled with good extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt - bet that would be amazing!

    Hi Stacy - thanks! I have a coconut obsession lately, too. I'd like to try baking with coconut palm sugar.

  9. I have been meaning to give spelt flour a try for some time now. This recipe looks like a good place to start.

  10. Thanks, Wizzy! Spelt flour is good stuff, hope you enjoy it!

  11. These muffins look absolutely yummy!

  12. oh wow I want some of your muffins you have perfected them!

  13. These muffins sound like a total pleasure to wake up to! Reminiscent of a hummingbird cupcake, but more appropriate of a feel good breakfast.

  14. thanks, CrazySweetLife, and welcome!

    Thanks, Chow and Chatter!

    Hi Kim - yes with the whole grain these are definitely a feel-good breakfast!

  15. Hy Nancy,

    Your blog and the food you share here is marvellous n healthy..Happy to follow u...!

    The muffins looks interesting to try it out..Looks perfect n yummy. Do drop in at my blog sometime...

  16. Nancy

    I could not agree with you more about the commercial muffins! Love your pineapple and banana ones, great and moist!

  17. Hi Jay, welcome! Thanks for stopping by. Just checked out your blog and it's great, looking forward to reading more!

    Hi Taste of Beirut, thanks!

  18. Hello Nancy!

    Brussels calling!!! I love that you have used wholemeal spelt flour!! I love that!! I also love the fact that there is no butter in here!

    A job well done! Yummmm,...

  19. Banana and pineapple, hmmm love this tropical sounding muffins.