Many, many moons ago, I had a crush on Jamie Oliver. Yup, my first celebrity chef crush.
I think the British accent had a lot to do with it, but man, he knew his way around a kitchen. I remember watching an episode of The Naked Chef where he threw a beach party and stuffed a whole fish with lemons and fresh herbs, wrapped it in newspaper and roasted it in a beach bonfire. At the time, landlocked in North Dakota where lemon juice came out of a green bottle and herbs were kept in rusty cans in a cabinet, roasting a fish on a beach like that seemed absolutely exotic. I never saw anyone do that with a walleye along the banks of the Missouri, that's for sure.
I'm over my Jamie Oliver infatuation now. I still root for him with his let's-fix-school-cafeteria initiatives, but I've moved on to bigger and better things. Namely, I've fallen for Ina Garten.
Yes, the Barefoot Contessa. I've had Ina on the brain ever since watching this clip of Alec Baldwin on her show, shopping for veggies (luv u, Alec!). Sure, Ina wears fancy pants in her sprawling Hampton home, and yes, she probably hit her high celeb-wise in 2007ish. But you gotta appreciate her great taste in food and her efforts to make good food accessible, with no apologies for using mayo but without the overzealous gluttony of Ms. Paula "more whippin' cream" Deen.
Lately, I've been baking breakfasty goodness on Sunday mornings, and in an effort to use up some wheat bran that's been sitting in my cupboard for awhile, I fell upon Ina's chunky banana bran muffin recipe. With two major banana eaters in my house, it's tough keeping bananas around long enough to bake with, but I bought extra in preparation of baking up some muffin goodness.
I ate a couple of these muffins warm for breakfast, and they were good, but they taste better after they are left to sit for awhile and cool completely. I made the mistake of adding the eggs into the butter/sugar mixture too quickly, leaving butter globs that took extra mixing to better distribute the butter in the batter. Because well-distributed butter makes a better banana bran batter, says Betty Botter (but not bitter butter).
Ok, enough of that.
Ina Garten's Chunky Banana Bran Muffins
The recipe I followed from Barefoot Contessa at Home is exactly the same as below, except the quantities are doubled in the cookbook. I found this halved recipe on Food Network's website, and I'm lazy, so I just copied it here. Also, with the doubled recipe, I only had large eggs, not extra-large eggs as the recipe calls for, so I added an extra egg for a total of 5 eggs. If following the recipe below, I think 2 large eggs will be fine as a substitute for the extra-large eggs. My raisins were dried out, so I soaked them in boiling water for a few minutes before adding them in the batter. This recipe will make 12 muffins; double for 24.
1 cup unprocessed wheat bran
1 cup buttermilk (shaken)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
6 tablespoons unsulphured molasses
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup large-diced bananas (1 banana)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place paper liners into 1 (10 or 12-cup) muffin tin.
Combine the bran and buttermilk and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, 1 at a time. Scrape the bowl and then add the molasses, orange zest, and vanilla. (The mixture will look curdled.) Add the bran/buttermilk mixture and combine.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the batter just until combined. Don't overmix it! Fold in the raisins, bananas and walnuts with a rubber spatula.
With an ice cream scoop or large spoon, fill the muffin cups to the top and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.