Kitchen MacGyver: The Butter, Oil & Egg-Free Baking Challenge, Part 1

Can I create a delicious baked good without the use of butter, oil or eggs?

If your reaction to the aforementioned question was colored with skepticism, I don’t blame you. I felt the same way when I eyed two nearly overripe bananas in my fruit basket and, thinking I’d bake banana bread, opened the refrigerator to find that I didn’t have any eggs or butter. My long list of things to do that Saturday didn’t include a grocery store run, so I somewhat hesitantly improvised. When it comes to cooking, I’m the type who reads recipes for inspiration, but rarely props them up in my kitchen, following each measurement and method religiously. A more precise, scientific art, baking is a different story. Omitting or using improper amounts of reactive ingredients like baking soda, baking powder, and other ingredients that give a baked good structure, texture, leavening, etc., results in a failure. Therefore, I only tend to fuss with elements that add flavor to baked goods like spices, types of sweeteners, herbs and fruit. But on that busy Saturday, necessity forced creativity, and I figured, I have nothing to lose except a few bananas. And thus, the butter, oil and egg-free baking challenge was born.

My competitive drive often unintentionally seeps into the kitchen, and I figured since I was approaching this as a challenge, I may as well deviate as much as possible from my standard banana bread recipe. Although not a familiar pairing, I gambled that a banana and pumpkin pairing would create a sweet background—as well as add fiber, vitamins and moisture—so I cut down on the amount of sugar the original bread recipe requires. To boost the protein, I added yogurt—more moisture and a slightly tangy note, too—almond milk and, halving the amount of flour, almond flour, which is just a lot of whole lot of almonds ground into a fine, coarse meal. Note: I store my almond flour, like all big bags of nuts I buy, in the freezer to extend its shelf life because these ingredients can be a bit on the pricey side. If you keep almond flour in the freezer, it’ll clump a bit, so just break up the chilly clumps with your fingers before measuring it.

Banana Pumpkin Muffins  

2 ripe bananas, mashed

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)

1/4 cup almond milk

1/2 cup plain non-fat organic yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1 cup almond flour (or almond meal; this is just finely ground almonds)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a regular-sized muffin tin evenly with cooking spray.

Peel bananas and break into two-inch chunks in a large bowl. Mash bananas with a fork. Add brown sugar to the bananas and whisk with fork until well combined. Add pumpkin, almond milk, yogurt, and vanilla extract and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, add all dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir to combine (don’t overmix; if you do, muffins can become tough). Pour batter into muffin tins and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one muffin comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool completely before removing from tin.

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