“Bring me a muffin.”

It’s a mantra I croak every Saturday when the husband wakes me up to say he’s getting bagels.

I love muffins. When I taught aerobics, I’d power up on apple-spice or maple-walnut mounds while the other teachers scarfed down eggs and protein bars. During my wild-and-woolly days, I’d sop up nighttime excesses with oat bran-and-raisin bombs. These days, I buy muffins at doughnut shops, muffins at bagel shops … even (gasp!) muffins at gas station convenience stores.

But here’s the sad little secret about muffins: Most of them are terribly disappointing. They’re either dry and flavorless (sorry, bagel store) or so oily they leave a greasy film on my fingers. (What did I expect, gas station convenience shop?) Even the muffins at specialty food stores and bakeries can be dense and oil-slicked.

So I’ve found a replacement. This cake has all the good things I love about muffins: a moist crumb, a hint of sweetness, a dash of spice. It’s perfect with my morning coffee (or afternoon tea). It adapts itself to whatever spices and ingredients I have on hand. (I’ve made it with yogurt, sour cream — even ricotta cheese; yesterday I stirred in the last of Margaret’s creme fraiche.) And the recipe is fast — no need to coax butter to room temperature or haul out the electric mixer.

Besides, I should stop kidding myself. What’s a muffin, really, but a slab of cake for breakfast? If I want a true-blue muffin fix, I can always bake this batter in my muffin tins!

Banana Muffin Cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon, or a combination of cinnamon, cardamom and ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sour cream, plain yogurt or creme fraiche (or 1 cup ricotta cheese and 1 cup sour cream or yogurt)
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9x13x2-inch pan.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the sour cream, bananas, olive oil, eggs and vanilla. Whisk until smooth.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir just until combined. (The batter will be very thick. Don’t worry about it.)

Add the chocolate chips and gently fold them into the batter.

Pour the batter into your greased pan. Smooth to the edges of the pan, then level the top.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is nicely golden and the cake’s edges begin pulling away from the sides of the pan.

Cool for 10 minutes before digging in.