Hummingbird Muffins are a riff on that rich delicious cake made famous in the south. This lighter rendition is stuffed with banana, pecans, and apple. You'll be humming with delight when you take a bite! (Skip to recipe.)
I love it when I can cook for more than just the two of us again. Our baby (and I use that term very loosely - at 6 feet tall he's a pretty gangly kind of baby) is back home for the summer, along with his unquenchable appetite, crazy humour, and smelly socks. His enthusiastic inhalation of any food left on the counter or in the fridge is an awe-inspiring sight. I've made my Hummingbird Muffins twice in the last five days and each time the batch was gone within the same day. He survived his first year of university, and is now working up an appetite painting homes for the summer. My chief taste tester is back.
But it makes me wonder where this year went, and all the last years, for that matter.
This afternoon I went to my niece's baby shower, and seeing her and her young friends, some pregnant, most with young children, gave me a twinge at how fast time goes. I remember when this lovely niece was a downy-headed little newborn. I believe it must have been just yesterday? Sitting around, eating cupcakes and listening to all the talk of labour, delivery, and sleepless nights, I felt like I could chime right in, felt like I was still a young mom sitting around talking with her friends.
But then I remembered - I'm a 'mature' mom, my kids are already out of school, they're in their late teens and twenties, young adults off on their own. I'm not a member of that young moms club anymore. No matter how much I feel inside my heart that I'm still one of them . . . that I can still remember every moment of each preganancy, labour and delivery, that I can complain about the sleepless nights and the toddler temper tantrums, the picky eaters, the birthday parties and the diaper changes . . . on the outside and to the rest of the world, I'm way too old for all that. It's okay. When I was in my twenties I thought the same thing - those middle-aged women were nice, but they were old. They were another generation.
Well, now I'm that generation, and I don't feel old at all. Because wasn't it just yesterday that I was there, too? I just blinked a bit, and now I'm here.
With my hulking teenager and adult children. A whole different set of things to complain about and also a whole lot to be proud of. A whole different set of worries and triumphs. Those of us that are parents, we're all walking the same line. We're just at different points in the continuum. Those young moms are just a few steps behind, and tomorrow they'll be walking where I step today.
I remember a conversation I had with my parents' 72 year old neighbour lady when they lived on Vancouver Island. This spunky old lady had just had her birthday, and my mom and I stopped in to say hello. I had my firstborn son on my hip, just a baby. I asked a few questions about her life and commented on how active she was (huge garden, and involved in lots of activities). Mrs. Albright told me how even though she'd just turned 72, she still felt like she was 21 inside. I nodded and said that was cool . . . but with the arrogance of my twenties, I didn't really believe her. I mean, she was a sweet little grandma - she looked old. Now that I'm a few decades older myself, I suddenly get it. I, too, still feel like I'm twenty-something inside. And I totally believe myself - until I look in the mirror, that is. Or until I look at my children. Then reality hits.
So I have a glass of wine.
And go bake some muffins.
* * * * *
Kitchen Frau Notes: I have a recipe for a delicious Hummingbird Cake in an old cookbook. The cake is apparently a classic, made famous in the southern United Sates. It contains mashed banana, crushed pineapple, pecans and spices, and is often served with cream cheese icing. The name came about because you hum with delight when you eat this delectable cake.
Well, I've used that cake as inspiration for these muffins, substituting the pineapple with shredded apple, and lightening it up considerably. They are nutty and slightly sweet, just right for breakfast or snacks. There definitely is some humming going on when we devour these muffins.
Feel free to use walnuts if you can't get a hold of pecans - just make sure they are fresh because walnuts can go rancid quickly, and then they taste bitter and strong. I keep my walnuts in the freezer.
If you're baking for an egg allergy, the muffins turn out very well using a chia egg instead of a regular egg.
(gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free option)
- 1½ cups (210gms) gluten free flour (my favourite one here) or regular flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup (240ml) mashed overripe banana
- 1 large egg (or 1 chia egg* see below)
- ½ cup (120ml) oil (I like grapeseed or avocado oil)
- ¼ cup (60ml) honey
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup pecans (or walnuts)
- 1 medium apple, shredded with peel (about ¾ cup/180ml)
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a muffin tin with paper muffin liners (12).
*If using a chia egg instead of a regular egg, stir together 1 tablespoon ground chia seeds with 3 tablespoons water. Let gel for 5 minutes.
In one bowl mix flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon.
In another bowl, mash the banana. Add the egg (or chia gel), oil, honey, and vanilla. Whisk together well.
Reserve 12 whole pecan halves to garnish the muffins. Coarsely chop the rest. Shred the apple, with the peel, on the large holes of a box grater (the same size used for shredding cheese).
Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir just until combined. Stir in the chopped nuts and shredded apple.
Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cup liners. Press one of the reserved pecan halves lightly into the center of each muffin.
Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack to continue cooling.
Makes 12 muffins.
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I love reading your take on life's passages, people, and events. You are a fantastic story writer; you know I tell my grade four students about my famous sister who loves to write children's stories, blogs, young adult stories, and newspaper articles. She even gets paid to edit. It's all in line to inspire them to write about what they love. And you love life and food and family and laughter. Ok, I too am feeling that twinge of baby talk and all. Thanks for sharing your stories and love of cooking. We all enjoy eating your cuisine. We'll give the muffin recipe a go tomorrow. Thinking of you.
Aw, thanks Nancy. That means the world to me. I truly feel blessed to have such support from you. You're making me blush, and you make me feel pretty special. I know I'll come back and read this comment on days when I'm feeling overwhelmed and under-appreciated (which I know us mothers all feel at times). Thanks so much for being there and also for sharing your love. I am who I am because of my family. XOXO
You still are a teenager in my eyes. I would never be able to keep up with you and your schedule. You are such a good Mother. You have four strong, smart, wonderful children who love you. You will once again have those special feelings when your grandchildren start coming along. I'm glad you are enjoying having your last baby at home. This recipe looks wonderful. I think I should try it out. Thanks for the great stories, your recipes, and your friendship.
Wendy, thank you so much for that uplifting and loving comment. You have made my day! Your words and your friendship mean so much to me. Thank you from my deepest heart. Hugs.
Hey Margaret, I think we need to share that bottle of wine!
You bet! I'm in (and looking forward to it 🙂 )
These look fantastic 🙂 Do you think I could sub coconut sugar for the honey?? Thank you!
Hi Jessica, I haven't tried it, but I'm sure you could. The only thing you have to do when subbing a dry sweetener for a liquid sweetener is to add 1 tablespoon of liquid for every quarter cup of honey or other liquid sweetener that was in the recipe, so in this recipe, you'd use a quarter cup (plus maybe a couple more tablespoons, since honey is sweeter than sugar) of coconut sugar plus one extra tablespoon of liquid - like milk, water, or fruit juice. I think it should work fine. Good luck with that. 🙂
Made them with coconut sugar today and OMG they are to die for! Thanks for sharing the recipe 🙂
You made my day! Thanks.
A Canadian Foodie
What a beautiful post!
I love old recipes- would you mind emailing me a photo of the cake from the old cookbook? I want to give it a go!
Interestingly, the Hummingbird Cupcake shop on Portobello in London is famous for its hummingbird cupcakes and I thought the idea came from there! Small and confusing works sometime - but I remain curious and must try if I'm able - maybe both recipes
Thank you so much, Valerie. Yes, I love poring through old recipe books, too. It's a glimpse into kitchens of long ago - and you find all kinds of treasures. I had no idea the Hummingbird cake recipe was famous over the ocean, too. It's a small world. Maybe it originated over there!