Bran muffins are a strange thing to declare your confidence in. Is it because the only confidence one tends to have in bran muffins is their dietary fibre content? So while contributing to one’s regularity is nice, recently I’ve been eating bran muffins because they taste nice.
I have a lot of confidence in these bran muffins. I’m sure they are not the best bran muffins you will ever try in your life (at least not while these are around). However, if you were visiting and demanding bran muffins (gosh how impertinent can you be?) I would happily make you these and hope that you would be just the teeniest-teensiest bit impressed at how they are not quite dull and perhaps not quite what you expected. Normally when buying muffins, I always tend towards the fruit-laden varieties, crowns coated in a crackled dusting of sugar. The more cakelike, the better. Bran muffins tend to be associated with a dull flavour profile, and more importantly, bran muffins do not seem to be synonymous (in the slightest) with cake. Yet these muffins have a cake-like swag to them. I would blame it on all the spices, especially the cinnamon, which tends to give anyone a bit of an ego.
And this is not to put down the bran. I was using some (gah!) very old bran, but toasting it in the oven (idea courtesy of this previously linked recipe) helps to refresh it. The bran is nutty and very grainy and the spices just help make it something a bit more special. The muffins themselves are barely sweet. Instead, most of the sweetness comes from the (well-plumped) raisins, while the muffin is salted and spiced. The chopped walnuts on top become perfectly toasted during baking.
As is often the case the first time making these muffins was a flop. Thus you’ll see two sets of pictures: the first of a clumpy and dry muffin batch, the second nicely domed, dotted with chopped walnuts and pleasantly moist.
As for the future–I was thinking of taking some inspiration from these muffins by making a bran cake. Rhubarb bran cake perhaps? Already sounds good to me, but then again, it is a cake…
spiced bran muffins with rum-soaked raisins
Adapted from Clueless in the Kitchen by Evelyn Raab, a book my sister (who is far from clueless) backs as a useful resource for one who is indeed clueless. I (the clueless one) find it quite cute as well! Toasting the bran is borrowed from Nancy Silverton via Food52. Makes 10 muffins.
1 c raisins
1/2 c spiced rum
85 g wheat or oat bran (I think this could be increased even more if you so desire!)
110 g neutral oil
60 g brown sugar
14 g ginger root
1 tsp vanilla extract
130 g whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
125 mL milk
125 mL 2.5% m.f. yoghurt
handful walnuts, chopped
Let raisins soak with rum for a couple days. There will not be much liquid left, and if there is, I would just mix it in.
Preheat the oven to 375F. Spread out the bran on a baking pan and let it toast in the oven as it heats up and while you prepare the batter.
Whisk together the oil, egg, vanilla and sugar. Separately, whisk together the dry ingredients (except for the bran). Mix together the milk and yoghurt in another bowl. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the milk in a few additions. It will be a fairly thin batter, but thicken up with the addition of the bran. Mix in the toasted bran, and lastly the raisins.
Line a muffin tin with paper liners and fill 10 right up to the top with batter. Bake for around 15 minutes or until an inserted skewer is removed with crumbs attached (try to catch the muffins while they still have crumbs clinging for moist muffins). Cool on a wire rack, removing from the muffin pan as soon as you can handle them.
WAIT…I don’t need a paragraph justifying my use of rum in a muffin, do I?