It's a lucky cook who has willing guinea pigs to experiment on. Usually it's Him Outdoors but at the moment I have three extra: our builders James and Mick and Andy the roofer, who've worked through rain, hail and snow this week and have earned a bit of TLC.
A shout of "tea's up" will usually bring them scrambling down the scaffolding and they're always game to sample whatever I'm cooking that day. This time though I blackmailed them into having their photos taken: no picture, no banana muffins.
As muffins go, these are fairly healthy. I resisted the temptation to pipe maple cream cheese frosting all over them (but don't let me stop you, in fact send me photos) and I reduced the butter and sugar content a fraction but they're honestly not as joyless as I'm probably making them sound. The men all took some home so unless they were just being polite I must have done something right.
We ate them during a tea break but they'd make a good breakfast or lunchbox filler too.
Banana Breakfast Muffins (makes about 12)
250g self-raising flour
75g vanilla sugar (or normal caster sugar)
1 tspn baking powder
1/2 tspn bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
1 tspn powdered cinnamon
A grating of nutmeg
2 large, ripe bananas, mashed
50g melted butter
125 ml milk
2 large eggs
Dried banana, to decorate
Maple syrup, to glaze
Pre-heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7. Grease a 12-hole muffins tin or line it with paper cases. Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarb into a bowl and stir through the sugar, spices and salt.
In another bowl, whisk the mashed bananas with the milk, eggs and butter. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid ingredients. Stir until you have a lumpy batter but don't over-mix or your muffins will be tougher than a weather-beaten Suffolk builder.
Divide the mixture between the muffin tins and top with some pieces of dried banana. Put the kettle on because the chaps will need more tea soon.
Place in the oven (the muffins, not the builders) and immediately reduce the temperature to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the tins halfway through. They're ready when a toothpick poked into them comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and brush the tops with maple syrup while they're still warm. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Supply, with copious amounts of well-sugared tea, to the workforce.