No matter how long you’ve been baking or how much experience you have in the kitchen, you are bound to have a mishap every once in a while. You might get distracted and forget to add in an ingredient or you might leave something in the oven too long or maybe (and this is my usual mistake) you forget to buy a key ingredient when you’re at the grocery store. Most of the time, these mistakes result in a ruined baked good or a last minute dash to the store. Sometimes though, these mistakes turn out to be a happy accident and the resulting product is magical. The story of ganache is a perfect example of this. Legend has it that a pastry apprentice accidentally spilled cream into a bowl of chocolate. Instead of throwing the chocolate out, he stirred it together with the cream and it turned into a beautiful thick chocolate sauce. The result of his mistake was the indispensable pastry staple we all know and love today – ganache (which funnily enough translates to “fool” in French and is supposedly what the chef called his apprentice after his mishap!).
A couple weeks ago, I made what I like to call a “fortunate mistake.” I was making a batch of my favorite Cranberry Walnut Muffins and, as is typical of me, realized I forgot to buy buttermilk. It was early in the morning and I was hungry, so I really didn’t want to go to the store. Instead, I decided to root around my fridge to see what I had that I could substitute for buttermilk. I didn’t have any milk, so making my own buttermilk was out of the question. What I did have was a lonely little container of Fage Greek Yogurt, staring at me and begging to be used. It was my only option and like I said, I was really hungry, so I decided to give it a shot.
Greek yogurt is obviously very different than buttermilk, so I knew I was going to have make some changes to my recipe. This kind of yogurt has a lot of protein (20 grams per cup!), which is awesome when you’re eating it on its own…….but not so awesome when you’re trying to make a tender muffin. To keep the batter from getting tough, I knew I needed to add another source of moisture in to the recipe. I did the usual scan of my kitchen and stopped when I noticed a sad, single, ripe banana that was just pleading to be made into something delicious. So I went ahead and mashed up the banana and threw it in the recipe. At this point, I had made so many changes that I thought one more couldn’t hurt and decided to swap out the oat bran for flaxseed meal……cause who doesn’t love their Omega 3’s??
I had absolutely no idea if these muffins were going to turn out. Part of me thought I would end up with tough, rubbery banana flavored hockey pucks. Luckily for me though, the Baking gods aligned and the muffins came out perfect. They were moist and tender with the just the right balance of banana flavor. I actually liked them so much that they’ve become my new weekday breakfast staple. It’s rare for mistakes like this to turn out so well and even rarer to substitute a bunch of ingredients in a recipe and have it work out so perfectly! But when it does, I feel obligated to share the love and so I present to you the recipe for my new favorite muffins. I hope they make you as happy as they make me!
Banana Bran Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
1 cup Greek Yogurt (I use Fage – 2% is best, but 0% will also work)
½ cup canola oil
¼ cup maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 ½ cups bran cereal (like All-Bran)
¼ cup flaxseed meal
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
¼ cup turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a standard 12 cup muffin pan.
In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the yogurt, canola oil, maple syrup, mashed banana, and eggs. Then stir in the bran cereal and flaxseed meal. Set mixture aside and let sit for at least 10 minutes (this allows the cereal to soften).
Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
After you’ve let the cereal and yogurt mixture sit for 10 minutes, stir in the chopped pecans. Then add in the flour mixture and gently stir until just combined (it is important to make sure you don’t over mix the batter at this point).
Spoon the batter into the muffin tin. Each cup will be pretty full, but that’s okay!
Bake for 18 – 20 minutes or until the muffins are lightly browned and spring back slightly when pressed in the center.