Hazelnut, Banana and Lemon Muffins

Hazelnuts are a favorite of mine, whether for baking or for savory dishes. Their earthy, somewhat sweetish flavor, and their creamy texture, elevate any dish they are added to. So, it was no wonder I ended up using them when I was preparing to bake some simple banana-lemon muffins, and wanted to give them an interesting twist.
I chose to pair the hazelnut flour with spelt flour, as it also has a nutty flavor which enhanced the one of the hazelnuts. To have another layer of hazelnut flavor and texture, I also topped the batter with lightly roasted chopped hazelnuts.
To add some fruity sweetness and color to the muffins, I added a mix of dried cranberries, golden and dark raisins to the batter, along with a hefty amount of lemon zest.
All these flavors worked well together, in these moist and aromatic muffins. They are perfect for serving on a weekend brunch or lunch, or as a light snack any time of the day. Try them and enjoy.

Makes: 24
Prep time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes

1 stick (115 grams) butter
½ cup thick yogurt 2% fat
½ cup whole milk
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup sugar
2 L eggs
Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
½ cup mashed banana (from 2 medium)
1¾ cup spelt flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
Dash salt
1 tsp vanilla paste
¾ cup whole hazelnut flour
¾ cup mix of dried cranberries, golden and dark raisins
For topping:
1 cup lightly roasted and coarsely chopped hazelnuts
Lemon icing (optional, click HERE for instructions)

1. Line two muffin pans with 24 paper baking cups. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C).
2. In a small bowl, mix the yogurt, milk and lemon juice, and let it sour for a couple of minutes at room temperature.
3. Melt the butter and pour into a large bowl. Let cool a bit, and add the sugar, eggs and zest. Whisk well and add the mashed banana.

4. Add the yogurt mixture and whisk together. Add the spelt flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla, mix and add the hazelnut flour. Mix in the dried fruits with a spatula. Divide the batter between the baking cups. Scatter the chopped hazelnuts on top.

5. Bake for 30 minute, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out almost dry (the muffins are meant to be moist.) Transfer to racks, to cool to room temperature before serving.

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