Mom’s Bran Muffins
My mom sent me this email last week:
“Okay, so after reading and thinking about your latest post, I think you should do the next recipe with BRAN MUFFINS…what a follow up from your last post about not being health conscious! But really, you do have to make my muffins because there are NO recipes like it out there, and it really is THE BEST bran muffin recipe EVER. It will make you famous :)”
But really guys, she isn’t lying–I grew up on these humble little muffins and as far as I know they are the best of their kind. And yes that’s right, bran muffins didn’t have a negative conotation in my house growing up. Rather, my siblings and and I looked forward to these things coming out of the oven as much as we looked forward to watching pokemon on weekend mornings (and that was quite the big deal). When I left home for college, it was one of these muffins that I craved to come home for. And I’m not making that up to sell this recipe–one time when I was walking through the hallway of my school I craved them so much that I swear I smelled their familiar, comforting scent.
I’m sure that part of the appeal of these muffins is due to that biased fact that my childhood was fueled by them. But still, the recipe produces a classic bran muffin that is objectively pretty darn delicious. Textured by the nutty bran, the top and edges get almost chewy while the whole muffin stays fluffy and moist because of the tangy buttermilk–even when made with whole wheat flour. Unlike the dense, heavy bran muffins most of us have come to know, these are surprisingly tender. Furthermore, they’re sweetened entirely with honey and molasses which I suppose is a bit of a virtuous and delicious touch. My siblings and I have always enjoyed them best warm, right out of the oven, with a pat of butter on top. (By the way, when I made these my brother ate nine, yes NINE, in one evening. And he usually scorns “health” things. Told you my family eats them up like candy.)
My mom said she got this recipe from one of her friends, “another hippie,” during her days as a park ranger at Mt. Rainier National Park. Ever since, she’s been making these muffins in triple batches in her largest stainless steel bowl every few weeks on Sunday mornings. When she visits my brother, twin sister or me at college she brings a large ziplock bag full of bran muffins, ready to be kept in the fridge or freezer to be reheated for a quick breakfast or snack. This is the first time I’ve made them and I was a bit worried about them not turning out just like hers. (I’m guessing this is a fear common to most daughters and sons–it’s always so hard to make them just like our mothers!) But lo and behold, they turned out just the same as always. As my mom asserts, “these are foolproof–healthy, foolproof bran muffins.” Who knows, maybe one day I’ll become my mom making triple batches of these things, famous because of them. Unlikely… but no matter, I’ll still have my bran muffins.
Mom’s Bran Muffins
Makes about a dozen
Amy’s Notes: These are not overly sweet, so if you want a sweeter more “treat” of muffin you might want to increase the honey a bit. This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled and muffins freeze and reheat well.
1 cup bran
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour (any kind will do)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
optional: golden raisins, walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and either grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line with baking cups (always easier, I think).
In a large bowl, combine the bran, buttermilk and baking soda. The baking soda should activate and begin to create bubbles through the mixture. While this is soaking, mix the egg, vegetable oil, molasses, honey and vanilla in another smaller bowl until smooth. Add this to the bran mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt (and raisins and walnuts, if using). Pour flour mixture over the bran mixture and stir until combined and no flour streaks remain, but make sure not to overmix. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each cup about 3/4 full. Bake in preheated oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the tops are deeply golden and the edges are beginning to brown. Serve warm with salted butter.