Jan took some bananas with her when she went to hang out with her friends this weekend. In the end they did not eat them, but the travel left them in pretty sorry shape. Banana bread for breakfast!
Jan has gotten tired of my usual recipe and she asked for something more substantial and less “fruit cake-like.” Son-in-law, Chris, has been on a keto diet and introduced me to the idea of bulking up breads with almond meal, instead of starch. A bit of Amaretto seemed like the thing to emphasize this addition.
Jan also wanted oat meal in the mix. There are two problems with using rolled oats in baking. The first is that they do not always cook completely when the bread is done. The second problem is that you have to add a lot of flour to prevent the chunky flakes of oats from causing the loaf to fall apart. Cook’s Illustrated found a solution to this problem, by toasting and grinding the rolled oats into flour.
I personally did not like their final product. It was not a “muffin,” it was too sweet and cake-like. I also like the texture of having at least some of the whole rolled oats in the mix. I leave about a third of the toasted oats whole and grind the rest into a course meal, the best of both worlds.
I have a jar of vanilla sugar that someone gave me at some time in the past. This is something that I would not tend to use and it has been cluttering up my cabinet for some time. Mace also seemed like a good idea, just for something different to compliment the almond, cinnamon and vanilla notes.
Karl’s Almond Banana Oat Mini-muffins
1 ½ cup rolled oats
½ cup flour, AP
½ cup almonds, ground
¼ cup vanilla sugar
1 Tbs. cinnamon
½ tsp. mace
2½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ cup canola oil
1/3 cup Amaretto liqueur
1. Place the oat meal in a large skillet and toast it over high heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching, until golden brown (about 10 minutes).
Tip: This is actually a critical step. You want to toast the oats but not scorch them. One thing I have done is to sift out the oat dust from the raw oats before putting them in the pan, because this dust will burn before the rolled oats are toasted and give you a burned taste to your muffins. Underdone is better than over done in this case. You want most of the oats well browned, but you do not want any of the oats very browned. I could not taste the burned oats, but Jan said she could.
2. Take one cup of the toasted oats and put them in a blender and process them to a fine meal.
3. Put the whole oats, oat meal, almond meal, flour, sugar, cinnamon, mace, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl and mix well.
Tip: My trick of sifting the dry ingredients together to get a complete mix does not work well with this recipe. Some of the ground meals and Kosher salt does not go through my sifter and it ends up separating the ingredients, not mixing them.
4. Use a fork (or potato masher) to mash the bananas in a large bowl.
5. Add the whole eggs, oil and Amaretto to the bananas. Mix well.
6. Fold in half of the flour at a time and mix just until there is no dry flour showing.
Tip: For a quick bread, you do not want to overwork the dough, because it will make the loaf tough. This is the opposite of yeasted bread, where you are trying to develop the gluten to give it its structure.
7. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
8. Spray Pam on a mini-muffin tin.
Tip: You may also use a cupcake pan or mini-loaf pans, but if you use either of these you may have to increase the baking time, up to 50+ minutes for the mini-loaf pans. If you use a large loaf pan (4½” x 8½” x 2½”), only fill it about a third full. If you fill a large loaf pan the bread will not cook through before the top starts to burn.
9. Put two tablespoons of batter into each cup of a mini-muffin tin.
10. Push one whole almond into the top of each muffin and let the batter rest for ten minutes.
Tip: This rest allows any dry flour to completely absorb the liquids.
11. Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes, until an inserted tooth pick comes out clean.
12. When you mini-muffins are done, remove them from the baking pan and let them cool on a wire rack for a few minutes.
Tip: If you are making a loaf, let it cool completely before trying to slice it. The warm loaf will tend to break apart, if you try to cut it too soon.