Friday, October 7, 2011

Bran Muffins (Dirt & Stick Muffins)

If I had to choose one baked good to make, it would be muffins.  They are so easy, versatile and tasty. Since breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, I love that they are a main-course baked good! I appreciate creative, unique muffins and simple classic ones as well.  It's great when you find a quality, basic muffin recipe that you can then add to and tweak depending on your mood.  Furthermore, I think muffins are a great treat to share with people:
with my kids' teachers at school to start their day,
with my college students to offer some homemade goodness,
with my neighbors on a saturday morning to celebrate the weekend,
or a new parent who's been up all night,
or struggling friend who needs some kindness and nourishment,
or a child, because they are so fun to eat!

My former student, Amy, who is now in Colorado in grad school, sent me this NPR article about showing compassion through the gift of food.  If you have a couple of minutes, you should read it. It's inspiring! Thanks, Amy, for thinking of me!
(Speaking of my college students, my student Becca, surprised our 9:30 class this week with a gift of very special pumpkin cream cheese streusel muffins.  They were deliciously fall!  I ate one at class and another for lunch.  Here's the recipe.)

the Bran. You can find it in the health
food aisle of the grocery
Muffins come in all flavors and sizes.  I love a cupcake-like muffin, I mean, how could I not?  It's like a license to eat cake for breakfast! But bran muffins are at the top of my list.  When I'm reaching for a muffin at a bakery, I usually go for a bran muffin.  This bran muffin recipe is my favorite for a hearty, whole grain, rusky muffin.  Dave calls them my "dirt and stick muffins" because they have real wheat bran in them and they feel healthy (though still moist and yummy)!

I have some history with bran muffins.  My mom raised us on raisin bran muffins, which are really tasty, easy to make, and are perfect for those reluctant-to-eat-bran people.  They are fluffy and sweet (lots of sugar in this recipe) and light in their color and texture. If that is the bran muffin that sounds appealing to you, here is the recipe.

If you are more of a hearty, denser, healthier muffin, this one is for you.

In both recipes, the batter is able to be kept in the fridge up to a few weeks, so that you can bake a few of them fresh each day.   (The Raisin Bran ones actually require refrigeration for 6 hours prior to baking them – which for me just means that I mix the batter at night and let it refrigerate for the 6 hours I sleep and it's ready when I wake up; the Hearty Bran don't require refrigeration before baking).

I have tried many mix-ins with these: craisins, blueberries, raisins, apples, pears, walnuts, pecans, peaches, you name it.  A local favorite coffee shop, The Frothy Monkey, has daily muffins and they usually have a bran of some creative variety – i've had mango pineapple bran, blueberry bran, prune bran, and last week they had apricot almond bran.

[I have posted several muffin recipes on this blog, click on THIS ONE that has my tricks and tips that I have learned along the way to help with your muffin-baking pursuit]

1 cup bran soaking in hot water
the batter
3 cups Unprocessed Wheat Bran
1 cup boiling water
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup butter, softened (or I sometimes use ¼ cup vanilla yogurt; ¼ cup butter)
2 ½ cups All-purpose flour (or I sometimes use 1 cup whole wheat/ 1 ½ cups white wheat)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups buttermilk
¼ cup honey
Any "mix-ins" you would like (craisins, blueberries, nuts, etc)

Mix 1 cup of wheat bran with 1 cup boiling water; stir and let water absorb into bran.  
In a bowl, blend sugar and butter.  
Measure and combine flour, baking soda and salt.  
Combine the moist bran with the beaten eggs, the remaining 2 cups of bran, buttermilk, blended sugar/butter mixture, and the dry ingredient mixture.  
Stir until well blended.  
Add ¼ cup honey and any “mix-ins” you would like.
Place in refrigerator for future use, OR bake at once - (If you are going to wait to make the muffins until later, I think it is best to omit the mix-ins until the time you are baking them).

batter in the fridge for whenever you want to bake them
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  
Stir batter and scoop into greased muffin tins. I like to sprinkle some turbinado sugar (coarse raw sugar) on top before baking.  If I used a "mix-in", I sprinkle some of those ingredients on top to indicate what's inside, and because it's so pretty!  
Bake 15 minutes, or until done.  

Keep remaining mixture in airtight container for 2 to 4 weeks.  Makes about 2 dozen muffins.

Happy Friday muffins for teachers


  1. Julie! I made these yesterday and Lucy gave a few to her preschool teacher this morning. :) Thank you for the inspiration.