A bold claim, I know.
Just the mention of the word “bran” will have most kids turning tail and heading for the hills, but if you can get them to try these, I betcha they’ll be hooked…..hey, have I ever lied to you? This is a muffin that I make in double batches to freeze for a quick, healthy re-heatable breakfast or snack. They get their moist texture from pureed raisins, which along with a little brown sugar, make them perfectly sweet, but not overly so. They are dense, rich, packed with flavor, and because they don’t finish with a crown, but rather a flat-top, they are oh-so-fun to stack!
The recipe is Nancy Silverton’s, perhaps you’ve heard of her? She is thought by many to be the preeminent pastry chef in the States, and her famed La Bea Bakery in L.A. enjoys world-wide acclaim. I bought her cookbook “Nancy Silverton’s Pastries from the La Brea Bakery” some time ago, but it wasn’t until I read a recent blog post by David Lebovitz raving about these muffins, did I decide to give them a try. I am so glad I did.
Remember the last time you were at your local, artisan coffee shop, enjoying a hot cuppa, and savoring a delicious bran muffin? It had some heft, a rich flavor, a crunchy top shell, and a dense-moist interior, and you thought to yourself, how come I can never make anything this good at home? How come every time I try to make a healthy muffin I either end up with something that resembles a hockey puck, or a muffin that falls apart at the slightest touch into a dry pile of crumbs that look (and taste like) saw dust! Those days are gone my friends….Nancy has come to save us from all those bran muffin FAILS.
The girls and I made these on a recent Saturday morning, and I have to say that it was a wild time in the “Oui, Chef” kitchen. Peyton had a friend who had slept over and was joining us in our work that morning. In addition to whipping up these bodacious bran beauties, we had a team engaged in a full-on assault making chocolate chip pancakes, and a splinter group that was prepping for a school project requirement by tossing together some Navajo Fry Bread.
George Balanchine, who was known to have been reasonably skilled at bossing lots of people around on a stage so that they weren’t constantly slamming into each other, had nothing on us that day. Flour clouds were floating through the air, lard was sizzling in the skillet, and the Cuisinart was efficiently pulverizing hot, plump raisins…..the ballet was never so beautiful.
- 2 cups unprocessed bran
- 1 1/2 cups raisins
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon orange zest, finely minced
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 extra-large egg
- 1 extra-large egg white
- 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Pre-heat the oven to 350℉ and position a rack in the middle. Lightly coat the cups of a 1/2 cup muffin tin with cooking spray, and set aside. Spread the bran on a rimmed cookie sheet and place in the oven for 7-8 minutes to toast, stir once about half-way through to prevent burning. When done, pour the bran into a large mixing bowl.
- Combine 1 cup of the raisins and 1 cup of the water in a small saucepan and simmer on low heat until all the water is absorbed. Place the raisins in a blender or food processor and puree. To the bowl of bran, add the buttermilk, the remaining 1/2 cup of water, the orange zest, the raisin puree, and the brown sugar, stir to combine. Add the oil, egg and egg white, and mix to incorporate. Sift in the flours with the baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the remaining whole raisins and stir gently to combine.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins, filling the cups to just over the rims and mounding the batter slightly in the center. Bake for 25 minutes, until the muffins are well set and firm to the touch.