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Refrigerator Bran Muffins

Recipes for refrigerator bran muffins have been around for decades; they abound online with no one specific recipe standing out as the most-popular/easiest/best tasting. This recipe was created in the 1980's by Jane Brody, longtime health columnist for the New York Times. It's healthier than many others, but not unpalatable like some stingy versions. These muffins are made with butter because Jane knew that butter makes everything taste better and stay moist longer, but they're not nearly as sweet as some of the sugar bombs out there, and they contain whole wheat flour in addition to all-purpose flour. The All-Bran cereal makes them fiber-filled and satisfying.

Here's the magic of this recipe: you mix up the ingredients in a large bowl and bake only as many muffins as you need. Tightly close and store the rest of the batter in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. You can bake as many muffins as you want and freeze extras for a quick breakfast or snack later.

Raisins, dried cranberries or chopped dates are optional but they add a bit of extra chewy sweetness. Some online recipes suggest adding two grated carrots to the batter, which I may try next time I whip up a batch. I plan to have these on hand throughout the fall and winter for those mornings when I crave a delicious...but heathy...treat.

Kelloggs All-Bran can be found at major supermarkets.

3 cups whole-bran cereal (All-Bran or Bran Buds)

1 cup boiling water

2 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup butter at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup whole-wheat flour

2 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries (optional)

In a medium bowl, soak bran cereal in the boiling water. Set the cereal aside to cool, then stir in the buttermilk.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and the sugar until they are well blended. Beat in the eggs, and then mix in the bran-buttermilk mixture.

Stir together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, baking soda and salt. Add this mixture to the bran mixture, stirring the ingredients just enough to combine them. Add the raisins or cranberries, if desired.

Spray 12 muffin cups with nonstick spray and fill them 2/3 full. Bake the muffins in a preheated 400-degree F oven for 15 to 18 minutes. Remove them to a rack to cool. Leftover baked muffins can be frozen.

Save the remaining batter in a tightly closed container for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.

Makes 36 muffins

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