Bran muffins

bran muffins

bran muffins with currants

I found a really great recipe for bran muffins in a recipe book that I haven’t opened in ages. Ok, I just noticed that the name of the recipe is Butter Bran Bread; the butter part probably explains why they taste so good. And the two eggs and half cup of sugar don’t hurt either. The recipe is from The Complete Book of Breads, by Bernard Clayton, Jr.; the first edition.

Here’s the original recipe:

Butter a 9×9 inch pan, or two small 7 1/2 x 3 1/2 inch pans. Line with wax paper and butter that.

In a large bowl cream

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar

Beat in

2 eggs, room temperature


2 cups bran (not bran cereal)

In another bowl sift together

2/3 cup all-purpose or bread flour
1 1/3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 1/2 tablespoons cornmeal

Add the dry ingredients to the bran mixture alternating with

1 cup milk

Mix in

1 cup raisins, nut meats, or dates, or 1 cup mixture

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Don’t ask me why he uses weird measurements like “5 1/2 tablespoons” for the cornmeal. If you put that in a measuring cup it comes out close to one of the lines (1/3 cup or something). But “1 1/3 teaspoons” baking powder? I have never seen a measuring spoon set with a 1/3 teaspoon. 1 1/2 teaspoons works fine for me; besides, these are bran muffins; light, fluffy, and airy aren’t on the agenda.

The first change I made was to replace the butter with margarine. Margarine is lower in the bad fats. In a recipe like this (lots of wheat bran) the difference between butter and margarine is nil. Even better, use a vegetable oil that’s low in bad fats; for example, canola oil.

Next, I substituted finely diced dried peaches for the raisins, dates, or whatever.

Next, I baked it in a cupcake/muffin pan; it makes about 9 muffins. Butter the muffin tin before you use it. Let the muffins cool for 10 minutes after baking and give each a slight twist and they’ll come out fairly easily. I didn’t put any water in the empty spots.

I’ve been trying to add some flavor to it, but it’s rather a lost cause because of all of the bran. I’ve tried using the peel of an orange, peeling just the zest with a potato peeler and then finely dicing that, but that only added a hint of orange. I next added a tablespoon of frozen orange juice concentrate in addition to the finely diced zest; that slightly boosts the hint of orange.

The all-purpose or bread flour can obviously be replaced with 100% whole wheat flour. And since you probably already went to the whole foods / health food store, pick up some exotic flour and use that instead; oat flour, for example, is always nice. Next time I’m going to try brown rice flour.

I don’t buy milk, but I do keep a box of nonfat dry milk in the cupboard for baking. So the milk is really 1 cup of almost boiling water and 3/4 cup of nonfat dry milk. That’s a lot more nonfat dry milk than is needed (about 1/3 cup) but it jacks up the protein content. And milk helps bread last longer.

Even more exotic is adding psyllium husks. I reduced the egg count to 1 and added 2 tablespoons of psyllium husks to the milk. Adding psyllium husks to the hot milk produces something amazingly gluey when it cools down. And the muffins have almost no crumb; you can cut them with a dull butter knife and get almost no crumbs. I like my bran muffins dense!

Something I want to try next is making the hot milk first and adding the wheat bran to it and let that soak for 30 minutes. I’ve been reading the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book and they recommend letting any whole wheat bread recipe rest for a while before you do the first knead so that the bran can soak up the liquid and soften. Since the psyllium husks will also be in the hot milk it should make an interesting goo.


One Comment on “Bran muffins”

  1. Rusty Wright says:

    I’ve tried grating orange peel with my old grater (one of those four sided metal things with a handle on top) and that seems to work for grating orange rind, even though the grater’s holes are rather large. It seems to release more of the oil in the rind. I put the grated rind in my breakfast cereal (which I make with lots of bran) and I could definitely taste the orange rind. So next time I’m going to use the orange juice and grated orange rind.

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