There was a road I drove once the summer I was 20 and a few times again the summer I was 21. The two lanes wove northwest of I-89 through Vermont, over the mountains. The route was beautiful and windy, then the way leveled out, pointing the car through farmland. One of the best best kinds of American landscapes, and the kind of drive I miss now that I’m a dedicated mass transit-ite.
The road reminds me of summer, and of being 20 and 21. Ah. But I bring up the road today because it also reminds me of Snickerdoodles and Morning Glory Muffins.
Somewhere along the road, a mountain town materialized. The kind with a country store, a restaurant with a porch, and a bookstore-slash-bakery. The bookstore-bakery served freshly baked cookies, muffins, and cake, and strong coffee. On a few of the drives, I bought huge, chewy snickerdoodles and dense, homey morning glory muffins. I remember them as the best snickerdoodles and best morning glory muffins I’ve ever had. I could probably find the town and the shop using my high-level Googling skills, and then go back there on a pilgrimage, but I never have.
Since then though, I’ve gotten a morning glory muffin wherever I’ve seen one. The morning glory muffin is the compost cookie of the breakfast basket. Anything goes–into the batter. In the book, I have about eight variations of what I call 1, 2, 3 Cake, a standard proportion that can become banana bread, pumpkin bread, carrot cake, or yogurt cake. Morning glory batter doesn’t discriminate amongst these ingredients. In go bananas. In go carrots. In go walnuts. In goes coconut. You can add raisins and chopped apples too.
I make things easier by baking this in a square pan. The cake cooks as fast as muffins and is even easier to clean up. Til the day my path takes me bake over that mountain road in Vermont, this easy breakfast bread makes a delightful substitute, gently evocative of being 20 and 21 and stuffing baked goods into my mouth as I drive on windy roads.
Morning Glory Muffin Bread
Makes 16 squares
This is dump-and-stir baking at its finest. You can add about 3/4 cup chopped, peeled apples and/or 1/3 cup raisins to the batter when you add the carrots and coconut if you like.
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 very ripe bananas
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup safflower oil, other neutral oil, or melted butter
3 carrots, grated – yielding about 3/4 cups
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup shredded coconut, preferably unsweetened
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-by-9-inch square pan, then line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Whisk to combine, then set aside.
In a larger bowl, mash the bananas. Don’t pulverize them – leave some chunks! Add the eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla, and stir well to combine them. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the wet, then fold the dry ingredients in. When dry and wet are nearly combined, add the carrots, walnuts, and coconut. Fold those in too, but don’t overmix. It’s okay to see some lumps of flour. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cut into 16 squares and serve warm.