Despite knowing the cautionary tale about the time I put a small object in my ear and the ensuing, terrifying trip to the ER, Cal decided to find out for himself if a Lego droid arm would actually get stuck in there. It did.
The past weeks have felt like one of those combination book-movie flip books that give the illusion of animation when the pages are quickly flipped over. Each day is over in the time it takes to flip a page. I don’t recognize Abbott’s newly sonorous voice as his unless I’m looking at him when he speaks. Our tiny garden is suddenly abundant with flowering chives, rhubarb, and soon-to-be-ripe strawberries.
I like to think I’m keenly in tune with all the nature around me, but really, I want the good parts, the flicker family inhabiting the snag outside my bedroom window, but not the wasps with a nest somewhere near our roof.
We’re at the beginning of the end. Abbott is away for a couple of nights on an end-of-year class trip with all the sixth graders from his school. Last night Cal had his annual, end-of-year Spring Arts Showcase. The coming weeks will be one long, protracted goodbye, as they always are; will, as always, make me a little off the rails.
Last week our freezer stopped working, and in order to repair it, we had to remove all its contents. I couldn't stand to put the blackened, long-forgotten bananas back in, so I made Abbott’s favorite: banana muffins. I'm putting the recipe here, my online recipe box, for when he’s on his own. His banana baked goods must have a smooth consistency; no nuts, chocolate, or other additives.
Adapted from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel
IMPORTANT: The batter and streusel need to be made the night before you plan to bake!
168 grams cake flour (1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon)
3.6 grams baking soda (3/4 teaspoon)
2.4 grams baking powder (1/2 teaspoon)
4.4 grams kosher salt (1 1/2 teaspoons)
120 grams unsalted butter (4.2 ounces), at room temperature
144 grams light brown sugar (3/4 cup, lightly packed)
80 grams eggs (1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon)*
7 grams vanilla paste (1 1/8 teaspoon)
24 grams creme fraiche (1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons)
256 grams mashed banana (1 cup, about 2 large bananas)
Walnut Streusel Topping:
100 grams all-purpose flour (1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons)
100 grams granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
100 grams walnuts, very finely chopped (3/4 cup)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
100 grams cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (3 1/2 ounces)
*To measure the eggs: beat 2 large eggs in a small bowl, push them through a strainer and then measure the amount you need for the recipe.
For the batter:
Sift the cake flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a medium bowl. Add the salt to the sifted ingredients, and whisk together.
Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and cream the butter at medium-low speed until it has the consistency of mayonnaise. Add the sugar and mix for 1 to 2 more minutes, until fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then add the eggs and vanilla paste, and mix for 15 to 30 seconds on low speed, until just combined. Add the dry ingredients in 2 additions, mixing on low speed for 15 seconds after each, or until just combined. Scrape the bottom of the bowl again to lift any dry ingredients that may have settled there. Add the creme fraiche and bananas and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, until just combined. Transfer the batter to a covered container and refrigerate overnight, or for up to 36 hours.
For the Walnut Streusel:
Combine all of the ingredients except the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on the lowest setting. Toss in the butter and mix on low speed for about 1 minute, or until the butter is incorporated, with no large chunks remaining. Refrigerate the streusel in a covered container for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 1 month. Use the streusel while it is cold.
To bake the muffins:
Preheat the oven to 425F. Spray a jumbo muffin pan with nonstick spray, or spray muffin papers with nonstick spray, and then line the muffin pan with them. Divide the batter evenly, stopping 1/2 inch from the top. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the streusel on top of each muffin.
Place the pan in the oven, lower the temperature to 325F, and bake for 35 to 38 minutes, until the muffins are golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Set the pan on a cooling rack and cool completely.
Muffins are best eaten the day they are baked, but can be wrapped or placed in a container and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 1 week.
Yield: 6 jumbo muffins