I've never been a huge fan of muffins. Although they look a bit like unfrosted cupcakes, most muffins are a far cry from their distant sweet cousins. White cupcakes are sweet, moist, flavorful and fluffy, muffins are often, tough, dry, and flavorless. They're a bit like the American version of scones. But like scones, muffins can be absolutely delicious when properly made.
These lemon banana muffins are ultra moist and buttery with the perfect balance of fruity banana and zingy lemon zest. Although there's yogurt and bit of lemon juice in the batter, the acidity is neutralized by the baking soda, making the muffins light and fluffy. A combination of all-purpose and whole wheat flour adds a pleasant texture to the muffin while boosting its fiber content. The bran in the whole wheat flour also has the added benefit of physically disrupting the formation of gluten networks in the batter, ensuring the muffins are tender and fluffy.
I also love that these aren't too sweet, so you don't need to think twice about eating them for breakfast. If you're in the mood for a sweeter breakfast, just serve these with some berry preserves. Blueberry makes for the perfect compliment to the tropical banana and fresh lemon flavors.
Using bananas that are on the verge of spoiling (mostly black with a bit of yellow) is essential to make these turn out. Not only do ripe bananas have more flavor and a higher sugar content, they also have more moisture, which is necessary to make this batter turn out right. Because it's hard to time the ripeness of bananas with when you want to make the muffins, I usually just peel and freeze bananas as they ripen to this point, so I always have a steady supply of ripe bananas for muffins and smoothies.
I use a Baker's Edge Better Muffin Pan because it's compact and browns evenly, but because the muffins sit closer together, overfilling the cups tends to make the muffins run together. With this recipe, I ended up with enough extra batter for 2-3 extra muffins, which I cooked in a mini loaf pan. If you have a regular muffin pan, you can fill the cups to the top, which should be just enough batter for 12 regular-sized muffins.
- Adjust the oven rack to the lower middle position and then preheat to 375 degrees F. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with muffin liners.
- Sift together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, and salt.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).
- Mash the bananas, eggs, yogurt and lemon juice together until the mixture is uniform, and there are no lumps (a hand blender will speed this up).
- With the mixer running at medium speed, slowly pour in 1/3 of the banana mixture to the butter.
- Turn off the mixer and add half the flour mixture, mixing at low speed until just combined. Continue alternating the banana mixture and flour mixture until they both added.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin, dividing evenly and then put the pan in the oven. Bake until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean (about 20-25 minutes).
- Let the muffins cool until they are cool enough to handle, and serve warm.