Good, Better, Best Bran Muffins

by Anne Bennett on June 17, 2011

The influx of cookbooks that I recently wrote about has yielded its first bona fide gem–a delicious, healthy, bran muffin. Indeed, this is the very best bran muffin I’ve ever made.

Despite their claims for healthfulness, bran muffins generally have a tendency to be unpalatably dry and heavy, unless, of course, they’re laden with butter, in which case it doesn’t matter how much bran is in them. They’re calorie bombs!

“Good to the Grain,” (winner of this year’s James Beard award for best baking book) is comprised of all whole grain recipes. The author, Kim Boyce, is a master at whole grain baking.

I am a convert after making these muffins twice, first as full-sized muffins and then as mini-muffins.

The original recipe calls for mostly whole wheat flour plus 1/2 cup of amaranth flour,  which Kim says may put some people off with its grassy taste.

I am one of those people. I gave it the old college try on the first batch, only to discover that there is a reason why amaranth flour isn’t more universally known. It tastes like livestock fodder.

But I remained undaunted. After all, this was a major award winning cookbook.  I tried again using all whole wheat flour, and bingo. Bran muffin nirvana.

For this recipe, which is adapted from “Good to the Grain,” you make a prune puree by steeping prunes in orange juice. Yes, it’s an extra step, but it takes only a few moments to do and it’s what gives the muffins their very moist texture despite the fact that there’s only 3 tablespoons of butter in the entire batch.

This yields exactly 48 perfectly plump, moist mini-muffins, which you can freeze and grab as needed. Or you can make 12 regular muffins and have your baking done in one fell swoop.

Best Bran Muffins…Ever

1 cup orange juice
1 1/2 cups pitted prunes

1 1/2 cups unprocessed wheat bran
2 cups buttermilk

Dry ingredients:
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 T. dark brown sugar
1 1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon

Wet ingredients:
1/2 cup molasses
3 T. unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 egg
1 T. orange zest
1/2 cup raisins, optional but good

Bring the orange juice and the prunes to a boil in a small pan. Turn off heat, cover and allow to steep until prunes are plump, about 30 minutes. Puree the mixture with either an immersion blender or a food processor until smooth. Mixture will be very thick.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Measure wheat bran into a medium bowl and stir in the buttermilk; set aside to allow the bran to soften.

Stir the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside.

In a small bowl whisk together the wet ingredients and add 1/2 cup of the prune puree. Add this to the softened bran and stir well. Then add this wet mixture to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Gently fold in raisins, if using.

Spray 12 regular muffin tins or mini-muffin tins with nonstick spray and scoop batter in. For the regular muffins, fill all the way to the top with a slight mounding in the center. For the mini-muffins, I used a 2 T. ice cream scoop.

Bake regular muffins 30 to 34 minutes, or until golden brown. Bake mini-muffins about 12 minutes.

Allow muffins to cool in their tins for a few minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack.

NOTE: The prune puree yields enough for 3 batches of muffins. I measured out the two extra 1/2 cup portions and froze them for later.

for mini-muffin (7 for regular-sized)

print recipe only

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

lin June 19, 2011 at 7:06 am

Anne, no poodles so did you figure the points plus? I do love muffins.

Jody G. January 17, 2013 at 1:19 am

Anne,

So glad to see this recipe, as my mom really NEEDS this recipe (if ya know what I mean!).

Can’t wait to try it!

Jody

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