Best Bran Muffins

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.

Yield: 12 regular muffins or 48 mini-muffins

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.