Banana bread is such a classic that it seems unnecessary to come up with “twists” to put on it. But it is also such a classic that it’s possible to get bored making it the same way time after time, so I give in every once in a while and make something like banana gingerbread, or stir in some chocolate and nuts. For this variation, I opted to keep the classic combination of banana, cinnamon and vanilla that I love to have in my banana bread and make muffins, adding in some whole grain barley flour to give them a little something extra.
The barley flour turned out to be a good call because these are some of the best banana muffins I’ve ever had. Not too sweet, they had a good banana flavor, thanks to a generous amount of mashed banana, but were wonderfully light in comparison to some muffins I’ve had. The low-gluten barley flour held in moisture but minimized the denseness of the muffins’ crumb. The almost fluffy texture turned out to be amazing for catching little bits of butter when I spread some on the still-warm muffins.
Lest you think that these are only good hot from the oven, let me put your mind at ease. They were delicious warm, but kept both their flavor and texture for several days when stored in an airtight container (yes, they were carefully safeguarded or they would have disappeared a lot sooner).
I like the cinnamon-banana flavor combination and so I used cinnamon in the batter and added a cinnamon-sugar sprinkle to the tops of the muffins. Feel free to omit the cinnamon and go with plain sugar if you prefer. Also, you can add in about 1/2 cup chopped nuts of your choice to the recipe if banana nut is more your cup of tea.
Banana Barley Muffins
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup barley flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly ground
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium, ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup honey
1 large egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional
cinnamon sugar, for topping
Preheat oven to 350F and line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, barley flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, sugar and spices. In a medium bowl, whisk together mashed banana, oil, honey, egg, buttermilk and vanilla extract.
Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until well-blended and no streaks of flour remain. Add in nuts, if using.
Divide mixture evenly into prepared muffin cups and top with generous sprinkle of cinnamon sugar.
Bake for 14-18 minutes, until toothpick comes clean and the muffins spring back when lightly pressed
Cool on a wire rack.