I think of this as a garbage disposal-style recipe, and I hope you won’t take that the wrong way. What I mean is, you can throw your nearly dead bananas at it, and your leftover hot cereal from this morning, and that bag of dark rye flour you’ve had lying around in the refrigerator since last March. Or, if you’re short a banana but happen to have some applesauce, put a little of that in instead. I might even try using leftover oatmeal next time, instead of the cracked grain cereal.
Another note: Boyce calls for creaming butter when it’s cold, rather than room temperature. I can’t say for sure, but I think she does it as a convenience: that way, you don’t have to plan ahead. I was nervous, but when beaten on high speed, it really does cream just fine.
Bring 1 ½ cups water to a boil. Add the cereal and salt, and whisk to prevent clumping. Reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the cereal is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool; then set aside ½ cup of the cooked cereal, saving the rest for another use. (You can freeze it in ½-cup portions to use for more muffins later, if you want.)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease 8 cups of a standard-size muffin tins.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the dark rye flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and the brown sugar. Beat on high speed until the mixture is light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the bananas, molasses, egg, and the ½ cup cooled cereal, and beat on medium speed until thoroughly combined, a minute or so. It may look curdled. Don’t worry about that. Add the dry ingredients, and mix on low speed to just combine. Using the spatula, mix a bit more to ensure that the flour is entirely absorbed.
Scoop the batter into the 8 prepared muffin cups. (I use an ice cream scoop to do this, but you could also use a spoon.) Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan midway through, until the bottoms of the muffins are dark golden in color. (Twist one out of the pan to check.) Remove the tins from the oven, transfer the hot muffins to a wire rack, and cool slightly. The muffins are best eaten warm from the oven or later that same day. Or, on later occasions, consider warming them in the oven or toasting them lightly before serving. They also freeze beautifully.
Yield: 8 muffins
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter and flour a 9- x 5-inch metal loaf pan. (Alternatively, you can spray the pan lightly with cooking spray and then line it with parchment paper, letting the excess hang over the sides. That’s what I did, and it made it very easy to remove the finished bread from the pan; I just grabbed the parchment and lifted. Also, because I don’t have a 9- x 5-inch pan – and because an 8 ½- x 4 ½-inch is a little too small – I used a 10- x 3-inch pan that I found once at a flea market.)
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together the banana, eggs, oil, honey, and water. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and stir well. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
In a small bowl, mix together the topping ingredients. Sprinkle them evenly over the batter.
Bake the bread until a tester inserted into its center comes out clean, about 1 hour, give or take a little. Cool the bread in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Then carefully remove the bread from the pan, taking care not to dislodge the topping. Cool completely before slicing.
Yield: 1 loaf