Victory Bran Muffins

Fresh muffins, yogurt, toasted coconut. What's wrong with this picture? Yeah, nothing!

Fresh muffins, yogurt, toasted coconut. What’s wrong with this picture? Yeah, nothing!

It’s the weekend people. Regardless of our need to post more healthy, hearty fare and veggies, right now we need muffins. Why are these a victory? First, they come from my cousin Victoria, via King Arthur Flour, via Zella Lane who was the radio voice of Betty Crocker. So, yes, these have been fully vetted. Most importantly, these muffins are delish, whether made as mini muffins (Victoria’s favorite way—less commitment per muffin and way cuter) or as full-sized ones. I took them to a ski race recently and they were devoured by adults and teenagers alike. They are substantial enough to stand up to packing and travel, but still tender and awesome.

Perhaps the biggest bonus, however, is the fact that this batter can stay in your fridge, at the ready, for up to two weeks. They are a bit of a process to put together, only because they require three separate bowls, boiling water and a bit of cooling time. But none of it is difficult, and the reward for that time on the front end is being able to dole out muffin batter as and when needed, for fresh muffins anytime within a half hour. They will save your butt on a busy morning and make you look like a red-hot muffin-bearing kitchen goddess. That, my friends, is a victory.

Notes: Pay attention here to the bran cereal amounts. First, they depend on the type of bran cereal you are using, and second there are two places in the recipe where the cereal comes in, so make sure you have enough. Otherwise you might be subbing in whatever cereal you have in the pantry—doable for sure, but potentially risky (e.g. Raisin Bran vs. Capt’n Crunch). Coconut is an addition from Victoria that is totally good. If you are warming kids or bran-phobes up to these muffins, sweetened is the way to go. Unsweetened, while more virtuous, will dry out the batter more, so be more generous with your buttermilk. Finally, this makes a lot. You can easily halve the recipe if fridge space is at a premium.

 Ingredients:

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup bran cereal (buds or twigs); or 1 3/4 cups bran flakes
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2/3 cup shredded coconut (Optional, sweetened or unsweetened).
  • 2/3 cup hemp hearts (Optional, but yummy in pretty much anything).
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar (demerara or coconut sugar take these over the top)
  • 2 cups bran cereal (buds or twigs); or 3 1/2 cups bran flakes

 Method:

1) In a small mixing bowl, pour the boiling water over the 1 cup twigs (or 1 ¾ cups flakes) of cereal. Allow the mixture to cool to lukewarm, 30 minutes or so.

2) While the water/cereal mixture cools, blend together the flour, soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. (Pro move here is to use a bowl with lid that can be used to store batter in the fridge). Stir in the cranberries, coconut and hemp hearts if using. Set it aside.

3) Stir the vegetable oil into the cooled water/cereal mixture. Set it aside.

4) Whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and sugar. Combine this with the flour/raisin mixture.

5) Stir in the 2 cups twigs (or 3 ½ cup flakes) dry cereal.

6) Finally, add the water/bran/oil mixture, stirring till thoroughly combined. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight, or HOWEVER THE HECK LONG YOU WANT!

7) Preheat your oven to 375°F. Lightly grease your muffin pan of choice, or line with paper cups, and grease as many wells as you like.

8) Heap the thick batter in the muffin cups; a generous 1/4 cup batter works, but feel safe knowing these are not exploding muffins.

9) Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, till a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

10) Remove from the oven, and tip the muffins in the pan to prevent their bottoms steaming and becoming soggy. Serve warm; or transfer to a rack to cool completely.

11) To bake mini muffins, heap the batter in the muffin cups, and bake for about 15 minutes, till the muffins test done.

Yield: at least 18 standard muffins, or 45 mini muffins.

Bringing it:

These taste great out of the oven but also when cool, and even if baked the day before. They have saying power! Victoria suggests the following for a hostess gift: “present your hostess with a gift bag filled with a container of the refrigerated batter, a mini-muffin pan, and a card that includes the recipe. Alternatively, just show up with those things and commandeer the oven while everyone else is still sleeping in — the fragrance beats an alarm clock any day!”

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