Belinda Jeffery

Banana, Date & Hazelnut Muffins

I love muffins…and obviously I’m not the only one, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve whipped up a batch when we’ve had unexpected visitors and they’ve been demolished post haste! There is something about the simple, honest flavours and ease of putting them together that makes them particularly beguiling.

At least once a fortnight, I squirrel a batch away in the freezer so there’s always one ready to be warmed up when I’m desperately in need of a little something sweet…which I have to admit is about 4pm every afternoon!


Makes 12

  • 1 ¼ cups (185g) spelt or regular plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 220g pitted dates, roughly chopped
  • 120g roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup (125ml) light olive oil
  • 3 very large ripe bananas, mashed (about 310ml)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 180C and tuck 12 paper muffin or cupcake liners into a 12-hole muffin tin.


Tip the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and salt into a medium-sized bowl and whisk them together with a balloon whisk for 45 seconds. Add the dates and most of the hazelnuts, reserving a small handful for garnishing, and toss them about so they’re thoroughly coated in the flour mixture.


Put the sugar, eggs and oil into another bowl and whisk them together for a minute or two until they’re light and creamy (the mixture is quite thick so your mixing arm will get a bit of a workout!) Add the mashed banana and vanilla extract and whisk them in for another 30 seconds or so until the mixture is fairly smooth (don’t worry that it’s not completely smooth – there will still be some little lumps of banana in it.) Stir the dry ingredients into the banana mixture until they form a somewhat sloppy batter. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. (I use a spring-loaded ice cream scoop for this, as it makes scooping the batter out of the bowl and into the muffin cups neatly so much easier.) Sprinkle some of the reserved hazelnuts over the top of each muffin.


Bake the muffins for 22 – 25 minutes, or until they spring back when lightly pressed and a fine skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Transfer the muffin tin to a cooling rack and leave the muffins to settle in the tin for 5 minutes, then carefully lift them out onto the rack. They’re lovely served warm or at room temperature, just as is, or with a little butter or ricotta. They freeze well for two to three weeks.


P.S. As far as reheating them goes, a gentle burst in the microwave, just until they feel warm, works really well. Otherwise, wrap them loosely in foil, then warm them up in a 180C oven for about 10 minutes (frozen ones will take 20-25 minutes.)