We have lived in our current place since the end of last year and put up with the disgraceful eyesore of a broken, unlevel concrete driveway and weeds and dirt passing as a backyard! This was partly due to a lack of funds after renovating the house to do anything about our garden, but after about 6 months, enough was enough – I couldn’t stand the sight of it anymore!
Neither hubby nor I are gardeners and pottering around in a garden is not my ideal way to spend a weekend. While we have decided on a minimalistic garden plan for our small area, the need for removing old concrete and re-concreting the driveway, as well as levelling the backyard and building retaining walls has pushed the job into the hands of a professional landscaper.
We went through numerous weeks of getting quotes and when we eventually made up our minds about which company to go with, there was another wait of about 2 months for them to be able to start on our job. Work has finally started and is coming along nicely. Anything looks better than broken concrete and weeds!
On the first day the landscapers were here, they arrived before we left for work and were still there when we got home, so I thought it would be nice to bake them something for morning tea the following day. I had to think of something that could be left outside (in a container) and would be “macho” enough for a bunch of tradies to stand around eating! I couldn’t imagine a bunch of guys hanging out the front of my house eating dainty little cupcakes!
I saw a recipe for banana and cinnamon muffins in Australian Women’s Weekly Bake (it also appears in AWW’s The Country Table). I had tried making Stephanie Alexander’s muffins, which were good, but not really muffin like so I wanted to try a different recipe.
One of the best baking smells I have experienced wafting out of my oven is the smell of banana cake or muffin baking. Cupcakes have a different smell, not as homely or lingering as banana muffins. If you have never tried making banana muffins or banana cake, I would urge you to give it a go, just so you can have that heavenly smell in your kitchen!
Banana & cinnamon muffins
2 cups (300g) self raising flour, sifted
1/3 cup (50g) plain flour, sifted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp bicarbonate soda
½ cup (110g) firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup mashed banana (about 2 bananas)
¾ cup buttermilk (180ml) buttermilk
1/3 cup (80ml) vegetable oil – I used extra light olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 200C (180C fan-forced). Grease 12 hole muffin pan.
2. Sift flours, cinnamon, bi-carb soda and sugar into large bowl.
3. Make a well in the centre and stir in banana, eggs, buttermilk and oil. Do not over-mix. Spoon mixture into pan holes.
4. Bake muffins about 20 minutes or until tops turn golden and skewer comes out clean.
5. Stand muffins in pan for 5 minutes, turn onto a wire rack to cool.
I made my buttermilk by putting one tablespoon of lemon juice in a cup measurement and filling the rest with normal full cream milk. Leave to sit out at room temperature for about half an hour before using.
Overall: The muffins were slightly dry on the bottom and sides outside but this might be my oven’s fault. I have a smaller oven/grill/microwave that I use for all my baking, but I bought a new muffin tray and the stupid tray can’t fit in the smaller oven. I only realised this AFTER pouring the batter into the tray so I had to use my bigger oven (which hardly gets used). At the time I didn’t have an oven thermometer (I just bought one) and the dial can’t be set that accurately, so it was probably hotter than the suggested temperature. That also explains why it rose too quickly and the tops ended up looking like volcanos!
Inside though, the muffins were moist and packed full of banana and cinnamon flavour. I prefer my banana muffins without cinnamon so I would leave out the cinnamon next time. They were a big hit with the gardeners and hubby thought they were better than the Stephanie Alexander ones.
Would I make it again? Yes, but without the cinnamon.
Over & Out, Rilsta xx
P.S. Apologies for the substandard photos – my usual camera was being repaired & I’m lousy at fixing white balance post production.