When I was a kid, bran muffins did nothing for me. Maybe I just didn’t have good one (honestly, I probably thought they were for ‘old’ people!)
They were usually dry, crumbly, and tasted just too ‘healthy’. There was no fun in eating one. More like eating cardboard. And I think, back in the day, the bran muffin was more about getting fibre than it was about making life enjoyable.
When I was in my mid 20’s I finally ate a bran muffin that made me totally change my mind. This muffin skyrocketed my opinion and I was ready to place it in the same category as the best cornbread muffin on the planet. To this day, these will both run a constant contest for the champ, in my heart and my tastebuds. But there are certain criteria that must be met by both. They must be moist. Not crumbly. They must be sweet, but not so sweet, that my teeth ache. There can be additions, but they should play a supporting role. I must first and foremost taste the texture of the main ingredient, and that ingredient is found in the name of said muffins!
Through the years I baked up my share of bran muffins, trying to replicate that texture and flavour that I remembered from that life changing muffin so many years back. Usually I was let down, and I retired that recipe to that recipe graveyard in the sky. I’m not a trained baker. I have never claimed to be one. My sister is the trained pastry chef. So I don’t fully understand every nuance of how to develop a baking recipe from scratch. Yes, I understand what must take place. Yes I do understand the difference between baking soda and baking powder. But I’ll be the first to admit, I rely on the talents and knowledge of others to provide those base baking recipes that will enhance my life. Once I’ve found those recipes, I have become adept at adapting them and changing them up flavour-wise etc to create some fresh takes on them.
So I kept turning to the talented bakers out there, whether in cookbooks, in cooking magazines, on the internet, or these days, on blogs. There are some fantastic baking bloggers out there, like Displaced Housewife, Joy the Baker, Yossy Arefi, and The Bojon Gourmet. Often I know I will find what I am seeking, by checking them out. And if not, I can usually adapt a few different recipes into a new one.
This time however, I found my base recipe on The English Kitchen website. Marie has developed a recipe that reminded her of her bakery days. So I tried it. It was uber moist, tender and packed with flavour. Unlike recipes that use bran flakes, she used an all bran cereal. I found this interesting, as I had never tried that before. So I bit the bullet and bought some cereal. I never purchase cereal anymore. Of course, there is always oatmeal, buckwheat, and quinoa in the house to make hot cereal. But other than rice krispies, for the obligatory rice krispy squares, I just haven’t bought packaged cereal in years (we will omit the Shreddies phase that Jim went through about 8 years back!) I picked up some All Bran Buds. I had no idea if this is what she was using in her recipe. But she didn’t really say, so I figured, what could really go wrong?
The recipe is low fat. Apple sauce, sunflower and coconut oil, buttermilk and molasses are the sources of fat and moisture. The aroma of the molasses when it hits the softened bran cereal (it soaks in hot water, the oil and later the buttermilk) is already amazing, and the muffins haven’t even baked up yet!
And unlike recipes that only rely on sugar and honey for sweeteners, Marie’s also uses molasses. Yippee!! I adore molasses. Did you know that blackstrap molasses is uber high in the B vitamins, as well as iron, calcium and potassium? We want this sticky goodness in our diet. Yep, I will even take a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses and add it to hot water to make a ‘tea’ if I am feeling sluggish.
I followed her recipe to a ‘T’. Chopped nuts and raisins included. A real winner!!! I was thrilled. Quick breakfasts or snacks were now taken care of, by baking up a batch, wrapping up cooled muffins, and freezing them individually.
Then as I baked it up many more times, I decided that it needed something besides raisins. (Truth be told, I’m not a huge raisin lover. As per the perpetual Canadian Butter Tart debate, I cringe at the thought of eating one with raisins in it. There are times when raisins are understandable, and necessary in a recipe, I just don’t personally have too many of those instances) So I turned to the blueberry. There are usually berries in the kitchen for topping yogurt or putting in smoothies etc. Why not add these instead? They would add a sweet, deep flavour, as well as an amazing juiciness. Don’t you just love how blueberries burst open while baking, spreading their jammy goodness throughout the batter?
So that’s what I did. And eventually the recipe morphed into the one I am sharing with you all today. I hope you like it as much as we do. Like me, I hope your quest for the perfectly moist, molasses filled bran muffin will now be over. Treasure hunts are fun, but only when we actually find a treasure in the end. 🙂
Blueberry Bran Muffins
The most moist, tender and flavourful bran muffin, made even juicier to the jammy goodness of fresh blueberries!
- 1 1/2 cup of all bran cereal
- 1/2 cup (125 ml ) boiling water
- 1/4 cup (65 ml) vegetable oil (I use a blend of sunflower and coconut oils)
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup (143 g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (250 ml) buttermilk (or soured milk, or even kefir)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup apple sauce
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) molasses
- 1 1/4 cup (125 g) AP flour
- 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup (60 g) roasted chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup (60 g) roasted chopped pecans
- 2/3 cup plus 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
Preheat the oven to 400F (200C)
Butter or line a 12 cup muffin tin
In a large bowl, combine the all bran cereal with the boiling water and oil. Stir and set aside for a few minutes.
In a medium bowl combine the egg, sugar, vanilla and buttermilk until well blended.
Stir this into the all bran mixture.
Whisk the apples sauce and molasses together in the previous medium bowl. Add this to the large bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
Add this as well as the chopped nuts to the liquid mixture. Stir until JUST combined. Do not over-mix.
Add the 2/3 cup of berries and stir to blend in.
Spoon the batter into the 12 muffin cups evenly.
Divide the remaining 1/2 cup of blueberries evenly across the tops of each muffin.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes. A skewer should come out clean.
Transfer the muffin tin to a cooling rack. Let the muffins cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing them to finish cooling on the rack. The berries will be jammy! This is good!
You can freeze the ones you won't need right away. They will reheat wonderfully in a 300F oven after thawing.