Tuesday, August 21, 2012

the best ever bran muffins




What is it about certain foods evoking a memory that you can remember the exact details that  surround the particular food?  Your mind trails off to when you last ate it, the event you were celebrating, the location, or - in my case, a happy memory from long ago.






As a child, my father would go out very early on August Saturday mornings to buy The Racing Form to study the horses running that day at Saratoga Race Track.  He would always return home with his Racing Form, and a white paper bag filled with bakery fresh bran muffins.  My mother would have a cookie sheet ready, cut the bran muffins in half - and with cut sides up, slip them under the oven broiler so they were lightly browned, with a crispy top!  My three siblings and I would watch the pat of butter my mother added, melt beautifully into the lightly browned nooks of the hot bran muffins, and dive in!  Delightedly eating our Saturday morning treat, I can still see a hot bran muffin sitting on a plate in front of my father, with his steaming coffee next to it - as he studied the Racing Form on his lap.  To this day, when I go home to Saratoga, there are always bran muffins sitting next to the toaster oven!  (By the way, the jockey silks tea towel seemed so fitting for my photos, while thinking of Saratoga! :))






I was long overdue to bake a batch of my best ever bran muffins, and share this wonderful recipe with my readers!  Over the years, I'd tried so many bran muffin recipes, including every recipe on bran cereal boxes - bran buds, bran flakes - always trying to re-create those true, authentic bakery bran muffins from childhood. None of the recipes ever lived up; that is, until I found Nancy Silverton's - Pastries from the La Brea Bakery, featured by David Lebovitz a few years ago.  My search ended.






Toasted wheat bran, simmered and pureed raisins, and freshly grated orange zest, are some of the lovely ingredients that make this real bran muffin the best ever - not to mention its moistness and delicious flavor! Using mainly whole grains and very little sugar, but still the perfect sweetness, make this a wholesome muffin as well!

With a touch of fall looming in the air, there is something comforting about a freshly baked muffin and a hot cup of coffee.  Why not give these a try - I'm confident you will never use a bran cereal box recipe again!

Until next time - mangia!  xox

Carol






The Best Ever Bran Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:

2 cups (125g) wheat bran
1 cup, plus 1/2 cup (190g total) dark raisins
1 cup, plus 1/2 cup (370ml total) water
1/2 cup (120g) buttermilk or plain low or non-fat yogurt (I use buttermilk)
a few swipes of fresh orange zest
1/2 cup (105g) packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (125ml) vegetable oil (I use canola)
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1/2 cup (65g) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (35g) whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking solda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Create the muffins:

1) Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).  Line a 12-cup muffin tin (1/2 cup size indentations) with paper liners.

2) Spread the wheat bran on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for six to eight minutes, stirring a few times so it cooks evenly.  Let cool.

3) While the bran is toasting, heat 1 cup (135g) of the raisins with 1/2 cup (120ml) of the water.  Simmer for ten minutes, or until the water is all absorbed.  Puree the raisins in a food processor or blender until smooth.

4) In a large bowl, mix together the toasted bran, buttermilk or yogurt, 1 cup (250ml) water, then mix in the raisin puree, orange zest, and brown sugar.

5) Stir in the oil, egg and egg white.

6) Mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and sift directly into the wet ingredients.  Stir until the ingredients are just combined, then mix in the remaining 1/2 cup (55g) raisins.

7) Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, making sure the batter fills the tin, and is mounded slightly in each one.  Because muffin tins can vary in size, if your tins are larger, make fewer muffins.

8) Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the muffins feel set in the center.




30 comments:

  1. These muffins sound so delicious, Carol! I love to recreate baked goods that bring back fond memories :). Your tea towel is the perfect touch!

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    1. Thanks, Laura! I bought the tea towel last spring, and this post just seemed to fit it! :)

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  2. I can't wait to make these - and your photos are incredible!!! Thanks, Carol!

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    1. Jeannie, you will love them! Glad to see you home from your beautiful vacation, and on the computer again!!!

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  3. This is the best bran muffin! I´m such a die hard fan of Nancy S. Lovely pics!

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    1. Thanks so much, Paula! When I first tried Nancy Silverton's bran muffin, I could hardly believe my taste buds - I've been baking them ever since! She has an amazing culinary history. It's truly the best ever!!! Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. I have made the box bran muffins, but can't wait to try these. The box ones are always dry.
    Isn't it wonderful that you could connect your thoughts with the past?

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    1. Thanks, JJ! I'm confident you will enjoy this recipe. It is extremely moist, with a delicious flavor! I would love to hear what you think, after making a batch!

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  5. I made these last night, they are awesome!! I will definitely cut a bit of the oil out and replace with applesauce though. It always hurts to add that much! :)

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    1. So happy you enjoyed them...thanks for stopping by to let me know! We love them too, in fact, thinking of baking some this weekend! Great fiber! :)

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  6. Hi Carol,
    I made your muffins tonight and I loved them, I made them with dried cranberries instead and added some cinnamon, they are really yummy and great for the fiber. Thanks so much :)

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    1. Good Morning Suzanne! I'm so happy to hear that! I'm honored that you tried one of my recipes, since you're such a phenominal cook! Thank you so much for letting me know!! Enjoy the muffins and the great fiber!!! :)

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  7. I just made your recipe and my husband and I love them. Delicious! I will definitely be making them again. Jill

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    1. Hi Jill! I'm so happy you enjoyed them! Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and let me know!!

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  8. Hi Carol. I have just found your blog and am enjoying browsing through it. I have made a note to make a few of the recipes. Could these bran muffins be made with oat bran rathe than wheat bran? No allergies; I just so happen to have an open bag of oat bran! Thank you.

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    1. Good morning! So happy you found my blog and are enjoying it! I've never personally substituted oat bran for wheat bran in a recipe, but it can be done; however, the flavor and texture of the muffins will be totally different. These muffins are so delicious the way the recipe is written, but if you want to go ahead and use your oat bran, and don't mind a difference in taste from these bran muffins, feel free to try! I'd love to know how they turn out! Enjoy your day...and thanks so much for stopping by!!!

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    2. Hello again Carol. They were great with oat bran! Thank you for the recipe!

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    3. That's wonderful!!! I'm so happy they turned out well for you! I may have to give them a try myself, since I have some oat bran on hand too! Have a great week! Carol

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  9. I am going to make these this week. I might even try a batch using dried cherries. I'll let you know how they turn out!

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    1. Good morning, Angela! I can't wait to see what you think! They are definitely worth the time, and are so delicious! Love your idea of adding dried cherries...let me know how that works for you! Have a great weekend!

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  10. Love, Love Love this post!!! I made a bran muffin recipe years and years ago, (realistically, probably about 15) just after I married my husband, but I lost the recipe. I've tried recipes here and there, but I've never found one that I love. This one looks to be similar, and I'm going to try! Liv comes home tonight (Yay!) and I need to fill her with healthy foods... mommy needs to bake.

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    1. Enjoy your weekend with Liv, Kim! I know you can't wait! This is such a wonderful recipe...the ones I used to make from bran flakes and buds just didn't do it for me. When I found this, it was the best ever! BTW, I don't know if I told you that I recently tried your banana pumpkin bread! It was fabulous! I actually made muffins out of it. I have ripe bananas that I mashed up a couple days ago and put in the fridge to make it again (bread this time) this weekend! Thanks so much for stopping by! Enjoy the muffins, and most of all, Liv! xox

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  11. These look perfect Carol! I adore muffins and these look so yummy. I loved your story about your childhood memory about the bran muffins in the white bag.

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    1. Good morning, Jocelyn! Thanks for your sweet comment! With lots of horse racing going on today, these muffins came to mind, and thought I'd post them on FB. This was one of my very early posts last year, and still one of my favorites. Have a wonderful day!! xox

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  12. I made these muffins this week, and the turned out perfect. I was hesitant to fill the liners so full, but it worked perfectly. I am so excited I found a perfect bran muffin recipe! Thank you so much.

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    1. So happy you liked them as much as me, Sarah!! Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and let me know!

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  13. These. Are. Amazing. They taste exactly like the ones my mum always made. Deliciously moist and bursting with flavour. It's surprisingly difficult to find a recipe with real bran instead of the cereal. People don't know what they're missing!! Thanks!!

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    1. Thank you so much, Jessica!! You described them perfectly!!! …and yes, it's so hard to find a good recipe…I searched for years before coming across this exceptional recipe! Makes me want to go bake a batch right now! Have a great day!

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  14. I'm going to make these tonight! Although I only have pastry wheat flour...should I add more liquid? I've never used pastry flour before.

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    1. Hi! You're going to love these! The recipe calls for wheat bran (toasted), which is essential for the recipe. It also calls for all-purpose and whole wheat flours, not pastry flour. All ingredients are easily found in all supermarkets. Hope this helps! Thanks so much for stopping by!

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Hi! Thank you so much for stopping by a cup of mascarpone, and taking the time to leave a comment! I read, smile, and cherish each and every one of them! xox

Carol