Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Spiced Banana Pear Muffins

LESLIE:  I’m always amazed when I read articles or blog posts by cooks who say they “developed” a recipe (professional speak!) after looking in the fridge and seeing one of these, two of those, and a quarter pound of this, then remembered they had a can of X in the pantry and a quart of stock in the freezer, and voila! I’m even more amazed when the result turns out to be amazingly good!

And then, one recent Sunday morning, I woke with a hankering for fresh muffins. On the counter sat one well-browned banana and one very ripe Bosc pear.

Et voila!

I used my basic muffin recipe, adapted from The Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home. The amount of very ripe fruit was dictated by what I had—if my mother’s classic Banana Bread recipe takes two bananas, I figured one and a pear would be great. Adjust if you need to, based on what your kitchen counter holds. The spicing is gentle and compliments the fruit well. You could easily use pecans or husked hazelnuts instead of the walnuts.

A word on the jam shown in the pictures: It’s Paw Paw Butter, sent to me by my friend, Sara Bir, author of the Fruit Forager’s Companion, who was our guest last summer with a beautiful Buckwheat Berry Buckle. She led a terrific conversation I was part of at the Montana Book Festival in September on recipes as storytelling, and when I expressed curiosity about the paw paw, which grows wild in the central region of the US, she sent me a jar. It’s utterly delightful—custardy, with a taste reminiscent of apricot jam without the tartness. You hardly need it for these muffins—eat them bare, with butter, or maybe with apricot or pear preserves—but if you get a chance to try a paw paw, take it!

Spiced Banana Pear Muffins

2 large eggs
½ cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
3/4-1 cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ripe banana, smashed with a fork
1 ripe pear, smashed or diced
2 cups unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare your muffin tins with cooking spray or oil.

In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, oil, brown sugar, and vanilla. Add the fruit and mix well.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. Add to the egg mixture and combine, being careful not to overmix. Fold in the walnuts.

Spoon into prepared tin. Bake 20-25 minutes, until the tops are puffed and golden brown, and a knife or tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Allow to cool about 5 minutes before removing from the tin.

Makes 12-15 standard-size muffins. These freeze well.


From the cover of CHAI ANOTHER DAY, Spice Shop Mystery #4 (Seventh St. Books): 

 Seattle Spice Shop owner Pepper Reece probes murder while juggling a troubled employee, her mother's house hunt, and a fisherman who's set his hook for her.

As owner of the Spice Shop in Seattle's famed Pike Place Market, Pepper Reece is always on the go. Between conjuring up new spice blends and serving iced spice tea to customers looking to beat the summer heat, she finally takes a break for a massage. But the Zen moment is shattered when she overhears an argument in her friend Aimee's vintage home decor shop that ends in murder. 

Wracked by guilt over her failure to intervene, Pepper investigates, only to discover a web of deadly connections that could ensnare a friend - and Pepper herself.

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries, and the winner of Agatha Awards in three categories. Death al Dente, the first Food Lovers' Village Mystery, won Best First Novel in 2013, following her 2011 win in Best Nonfiction. Her first historical short story, "All God's Sparrows," won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story, and is now nominated for a Macavity award; read it on her website. A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.


  1. Looks delicious! I'll have to try this. Thanks for sharing! Renee - rwilson@ws4r.com

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Muffins sound delicious. Paw Paw reminded me of when I lived in Indiana. Bobbytobey@verizon.net

  4. Well done. Nice kitchen logic.