Banana Bran Muffins

Who’s ready for some wholesomeness in their life??

Banana Bran Muffins | CaliGirlCooking.com

I sure am! Well, in about two days when we’re back from our Italy vacation, that is. At which point I completely intend to fill our kitchen with healthy(-ish) dishes with good-for-you ingredients, like these Banana Bran Muffins!

Okay, to be fair, these muffins do have lots of wholesome ingredients, but I’d be lying if I said they were completely healthy. Sure, they still have sugar, white flour and eggs, but they also have not one but TWO types of bran cereal and bananas, so there’s our balance right there. And let me tell you, if you’re looking for a little more roughage (aka fiber) in your diet, Banana Bran Muffins are the answer!

Before I get to these muffins, though, let me fill you in a little bit on what we’ve been up to on our trip since my last post on Friday! On Saturday morning we caught the train to Venice, which was a pretty cool adventure all in itself. The train systems in Europe always amaze me because they are so sophisticated and make going from one city (or country!) to another sooooo easy. The US sure has a lot to learn from them.

Once we arrived in Venice, we caught a private water taxi to our charming AirBnB just south of the famous St. Mark’s Square. We’ve basically been eating our way through Venice ever since and I can’t wait to write all about it in a Travel Diaries post for you when we get back! We head home tomorrow and, although I’m sad to see such an amazing adventure with so many people I love come to an end, I am looking forward to getting back into a healthier eating routine after all of this indulgence! I’m thinking these Banana Bran Muffins will be the perfect segue to gently ease myself back into the groove.

Banana Bran Muffins | CaliGirlCooking.com

So, I told you a couple of weeks ago that I’ve been really enjoying resurrecting old family recipes and posting them here on the blog so that they exist forever and ever (I hope!) I made my Mom’s Peanut Butter Chicken a little while back, the perfect comfort food dish, and just the other week I shared my Dad’s tried and true recipe for Hot Cross Buns.

These Banana Bran Muffins are actually my take on a recipe from my husband’s side of the family. It’s one he’s brought up over and over again whenever we talk about family recipes we want to try and make for each other, and so the last time we were at his parents’ house this recipe card was one of the ones we snapped a photo of from his mom’s overflowing handwritten recipes box.

Banana Bran Muffins | CaliGirlCooking.com

The first thing I have to say about this recipe is: Don’t be scared by the very large amounts of ingredients (three cups of sugar??? Five cups of flour??) That’s because this recipe makes a HUGE yield…we’re talking three dozen muffins, so just be sure you have a couple of really large mixing bowls to make your batter!

Banana Bran Muffins | CaliGirlCooking.com

And the great news is, once you make the batter, you can either keep it in the refrigerator for up to six weeks (can you believe it?) OR you can bake off all of the muffins (as I did) and freeze them in batches for future consumption. Up to you!

The main (really only) change I made to my mother-in-law’s original Bran Muffin recipe was adding mashed banana in place of the ½ cup of shortening called for. I figured this would help make the muffins a leeeetle bit healthier and it certainly made them nice and moist! Of course, after I’d made them, my husband informed me that his mom would sometimes sub in applesauce for the shortening, so there’s another option as well!

Oh, and if you’re not sure where to find both types of bran cereal, just hit up your local Trader Joe’s! Here’s a picture of both types mixed together below ↓

Banana Bran Muffins | CaliGirlCooking.com

Basically, these Banana Bran Muffins don’t take any longer than regular muffins to make, and once you do make them you’ll have enough to last you at least a month or two. If that doesn’t sound like the perfect semi-healthy baked good to you, I don’t know what will.

Banana Bran Muffins | CaliGirlCooking.com

And with that, I’m signing off for the day and off to explore more of the magical city of Venice! Be sure to follow along on my Insta stories for all the fun! Xo

Banana Bran Muffins | CaliGirlCooking.com
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Banana Bran Muffins
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

These easy-to-make muffins are incredibly delicious and full of plenty of wholesome ingredients like bran cereal and ripe banana. 

Course: Breakfast
Servings: 3 dozen
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole bran cereal
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana (about 1 banana)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 5 cups flour, sifted
  • 4 cups bran flakes
  • 5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare as many cupcake tins as you have (ultimately you will need three dozen, but you can always reuse the pans) by either spraying them with nonstick cooking spray or lining with cupcake liners.

  2. In a medium bowl, pour boiling water over whole bran cereal. Let stand while you prep the wet ingredients.

  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar, banana, eggs and buttermilk. Add the whole bran that you’ve been soaking in the hot water. 

  4. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine the flour, bran flakes, baking soda and salt. Stir in the wet ingredients and continue to stir until no lumps of flour can be seen. The batter will be very thick and will thicken even more as it stands.

  5. Scoop batter into cupcake pans and bake in 350 degree oven for 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove and let cool in pan for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

Recipe Notes

You can bake off all of these muffins at once and freeze them in batches, or you can keep the batter covered in the refrigerator for up to six weeks to bake off when needed.

Banana Bran Muffins | CaliGirlCooking.com

Chunky Monkey Cinnamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze

Who doesn’t need cinnamon rolls on a Monday?

Chunky Monkey Cinamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com

I know I sure do! Especially when they’re loaded with banana, chocolate and walnuts like these Chunky Monkey Cinnamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze. I don’t even think that these need further discussion, but a discussion we will have.

As I mentioned in my post for these Pumpkin Praline Cinnamon Rolls with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting, I owe my deep love for all flavors of homemade cinnamon rolls to my Dad. Over the past couple of years, good ol’ Dad has been dreaming up different combos like Caramel Apple, Blueberry, Chocolate Chip, you name it, and if we’re lucky he’ll have some baking away in the oven for breakfast whenever we go up home to visit.

Two weekends ago, we were up there helping my sister move into her new house, and my parents decided to throw a little brunch to celebrate my birthday the next morning. Sure enough, Dad was in the kitchen the night before the brunch whipping up the above-mentioned Blueberry Cinnamon Rolls, and I decided it was high time for me to feature another cinnamon roll flavor on this here blog using his trusty recipe.

Chunky Monkey Cinamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com

On this same trip, Dad and I were chatting over our coffee one early morning (as we usually do since we’re the only early-risers in the family) and he brought up the fact that it had been a while since he made his banana chocolate chip pancakes – another breakfast specialty of his. It got the gears turning in my mind and I figured, why not combine the two? Cinnamon rolls, banana, chocolate chip….all in buttery, flaky bread form? Yes, please!

Of course I couldn’t stop there, and I decided to go ahead and add toasted walnuts to the mix. I mean, who doesn’t want their breakfast to taste like the best Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor around? Oh, and the glaze….yes, I trashed that up too and made it a rich, ganache-like chocolate…

Chunky Monkey Cinamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com

I’m proud to say that these Chunky Monkey Cinnamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze turned into not one, but two pans of delicious, indulgent, chocolate-y breakfast pastries, half of which are living in our freezer right now so we don’t eat them all in one sitting. Plus, I love having a freezer full of baked goods for any last minute house guests or mornings where we just don’t feel like cooking!

You’ll notice that the base for these Chunky Monkey Cinnamon Rolls is very similar to my Pumpkin Praline Cinnamon Roll recipe. That’s the beauty of cinnamon rolls! Once you get the basic formula down, you can swap different ingredients in and out to make alllll of the flavors.

Chunky Monkey Cinamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com

You’ll also notice that there is (once again) a very long prep time. Don’t be discouraged by this! The hands-on time is really quite minimal, the dough just requires an overnight rise in the refrigerator. All the better if you want an easy breakfast that’s ready to just pop in the oven in the morning (and fill your house with the most heavenly aroma at the same time!)

The dough for our Chunky Monkey Cinnamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze is brought together using a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, and is then rolled out into a rectangle over a large floured surface.  This is where our banana will live, mixed into the buttery dough just like you would when making banana bread.

The next step is the delicious, ooey gooey filling. The rolled out dough gets a light brushing of butter, and then a heavy dusting of ground cinnamon. We sprinkle our mini chocolate chips and toasted walnuts over that, and then we’re ready to rock-and-roll!

Chunky Monkey Cinamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com

That’s right, time to roll up the dough into a long, tight log. I failed a bit at the “tight” part, but was able to make it work by using a rubber spatula to scrape the dough off of my marble slab (it can get a bit sticky) and guide it onto the rest of the roll.

The rolling is literally the hardest part (besides waiting for the cinnamon rolls to rise!) and once you’re done with that just slice it up and tuck the spirals into a couple of baking dishes coated with cooking spray. Wrap them up and stick ‘em in the fridge overnight, and in the morning you’re just 45 minutes away from incredibly mouth-watering Chunky Monkey Cinnamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze!

Chunky Monkey Cinamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com

I like to let the cinnamon rolls have a little bit of a warm rise in the morning, and to do this I just turn the oven on to 250 degrees for about 5 minutes, then turn it off and put the rolls in for 10-15 minutes. After they’ve had some time to rise, I take the rolls out to, set them on top of the oven, and preheat the oven to the baking temp of 350 degrees. Once the oven is preheated, stick in the cinnamon rolls and in 30 minutes your house will smell like your favorite bakery – promise.

You can mix up the chocolate glaze while the cinnamon rolls are cooling, and either pour the glaze all over the cinnamon rolls in the pan, or leave the glaze in a bowl on the side and spoon it over each of the cinnamon rolls as they’re being served. (Although, if you wait to scoop the glaze on after you take the rolls out of the pan, you’ll have a lot more surface area for it too ooze all over…just sayin’.)

Chunky Monkey Cinamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com

And that’s it! Really, as long as you’re cool with popping the rolls in the refrigerator overnight to rise, this recipe comes together in a snap and with very minimal effort. I mean, we’re talking weekday breakfast status right here. So what are you waiting for?

Chunky Monkey Cinamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com
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Chunky Monkey Cinnamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze

These are not your average cinnamon rolls with flavors of banana, chocolate and walnuts. Just like your favorite ice cream flavor! 

Course: Breakfast
Servings: 18 cinnamon rolls
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the dough:
  • 1 packet active dry yeast (1/4 ounce)
  • 1/3 cup lukewarm water
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 large, ripe bananas, mashed
  • 4-5 cups all-purpose flour
For the filling:
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 3/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
For the glaze:
  • 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
Instructions
  1. First, make the dough. Combine yeast and lukewarm water in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Add butter, sugars, salt, eggs and banana and stir (using the dough hook) to combine. Gradually begin adding in the flour, one cup at a time, stirring well after each addition, but not over-stirring (you just barely want all the flour incorporated in the dough before adding more.)

  2. Keep adding the flour until the dough can be removed from the mixer without sticking too much. It will be a little sticky, but feel free to put more flour on your hands to help you get it out of the mixer and onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough lightly on the floured surface, adding light dustings of flour as needed, until you feel you can roll the dough out into a large rectangle.

  3. Using a rolling pin (or pizza roller), roll the dough into a rectangle that’s large enough for the dough to be about ¾ of an inch to an inch thick. You’ll want one of the long sides of the rectangle closest to where you are standing.

  4. Using a pastry brush, brush the melted butter over the dough, then sprinkle on the cinnamon, followed by the walnuts and chocolate chips. 

  5. Starting at the long side of the rectangle that’s closest to you, begin rolling up the dough into one long log. Do this slowly and carefully, using a rubber spatula and more flour to guide the dough as needed. Pinch the ends into the dough to prevent the log from falling apart.

  6. Using a sharp knife, slice the log of dough into 1 ½ - 2-inch pieces. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray, and place each roll snugly side-by-side. If you have extra rolls that you can’t fit in the pan, place them in another, smaller baking dish coated with cooking spray, such as a loaf pan.

  7. Cover rolls with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight.

  8. In the morning, take the cinnamon rolls out of the refrigerator and uncover. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit for just 5 minutes, then turn it off. Add the cinnamon rolls to the warm oven for about 15 minutes to go through a second rise, then remove the rolls and turn the oven heat up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

  9. Return the cinnamon rolls to the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and let cool slightly while you make the glaze. 

  10. In a medium bowl, sift together the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Add the melted butter and milk and whisk until a thick glaze forms. Spoon the glaze over the cinnamon rolls before serving.

Chunky Monkey Cinnamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com

 

Hummingbird Bread

This may be the.best.excuse.for.breakfast.ever.

Hummingbird Bread | CaliGirl Cooking

Who here has heard of Hummingbird Cake? If you have, I hope you are as enlightened as I was when I learned what I am about to tell you. If you haven’t, prepare to have your mind-blown. You see, I’ve known about Hummingbird Cake for quite a while now (I’ve never been one to shy away from overtly claiming my love of carbs and all things that fall under the baked goods category, see Exhibits A and B), yet it wasn’t until I was preparing this recipe for Hummingbird Bread that I learned about the dessert’s origins. Yes folks, you read that correctly, I’ve simply turned a classic cake into loaf form so it can be reasonably acceptable to ingest as the most important meal of the day –> Breakfast!

Hummingbird Bread | CaliGirl Cooking

But back to the fun little nuggets of history I discovered during my recipe research:

  • It is believed that this cake originated in the Caribbean (specifically, Jamaica) which seems reasonable since the main ingredients are pineapple, banana and spices! Where else do we find these things in such abundance?
  • The cake actually used to be called a “Doctor bird cake,” named after a type of Jamaican hummingbird called the red-billed Streamertail whose actions of sticking its long beak into the flowers were deemed similar to a doctor inspecting a patient.
  • The recipe made its way to the U.S. via press kits that the Jamaican tourist board created to attract visitors to the country.

Pretty cool, huh? You know what’s even cooler? Today I’m showing you how to make Hummingbird BREAD so you don’t even have to wait until dessert to enjoy this fruity, moist, spiced cake with a delicious cream cheese frosting. IMHO, something with this much fruit and protein from the nuts and cream cheese should certainly be acceptable to ingest prior to noon with a warm mug of coffee in our hands.

Hummingbird Bread | CaliGirl Cooking

So, confession. This recipe took me THREE tries before I was able to perfect it. Yes, that’s right. The first couple of times I tried to make Hummingbird Bread, I had ambitions of running a cream cheese swirl through the middle of the loaf and topping it with a pecan crumble. Let’s just say that (a) my batter to loaf pan size ratio was WAY off (thank goodness I put a jelly roll pan underneath to catch any drips…dodged an oven fire with that one!) and (b) my “cream cheese swirl” tasted delicious but was too heavy (and dense) to sit correctly between the layers of batter. I’d end up with an overly-browned top of the loaf with a gooey, undone center. #foodbloggerproblems

Hummingbird Bread | CaliGirl Cooking

I finally figured out that the best solution was to keep the Hummingbird Bread as true to form as possible (while still holding on to my creative idea to turn this cake into a bread), and so (after realizing how good the “cream cheese swirl” tasted on its own without even being cooked) I decided to frost the loaf with the sugary, melt-in-your-mouth, creamy cream cheese mixture rather than try to hide it inside. It made for a much more structurally stable loaf AND I must say it made it much more photogenic 😉

Hummingbird Bread | CaliGirl Cooking

I would like to point out, though, that I did not waste ANY of those failed loaves. A quick turn in the refrigerator firmed up the cream cheese swirl loaves enough so that, although not structurally stable, they are definitely, absolutely, completely edible. One down and I’ve got two more loaves to go (falling apart at the seams.) They’re just sitting in the refrigerator waiting for me on the next night I’m up until the wee hours blogging or cleaning because I haven’t ventured out of the kitchen for the past three weekends and have neglected every other part of the house and have my sister coming to visit this weekend. Oh, sorry, just me?

Well, if you’d like to come over and help me clean my house, I’d be more than happy to pay you in Hummingbird Bread…and good company?

Hummingbird Bread

Yield: Makes one loaf

Spinning the classic, Southern cake comprised of pineapple, banana, pecans and spices into a bread that's perfectly acceptable to enjoy for breakfast.

Ingredients

    For the bread:
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 medium bananas)
  • ½ cup chopped pineapple
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup chopped pecans, toasted
    For the cream cheese frosting:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
    For topping:
  • Additional ½ cup chopped pecans, toasted

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray, then line with parchment paper. Spray parchment paper with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Begin by making the batter. Combine eggs, sugar, canola oil, banana and pineapple in a large bowl. Set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture and stir until combined. Fold in pecans. Pour batter into loaf pan and place in oven. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If top begins to brown too much, cover with aluminum foil while the bread finished baking.
  3. As the bread is getting towards the end of its baking time, make the cream cheese frosting. Using an electric mixer, combine all frosting ingredients in a small bowl. Mix until all ingredients are well-incorporated. Set aside until bread is done baking and has cooled most of the way. Do not refrigerate, because it will make the frosting too hard to spread onto the bread.
  4. Once bread has cooled, remove from pan. Spread frosting over top and sprinkle with additional ½ cup of toasted pecans and serve. Refrigerate frosted loaf if not eating the whole thing right away.
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Hummingbird Bread | CaliGirl Cooking

Holdin’ it together like a champ!