Friday, March 16, 2012

Not your grandma's bran muffins

Today was 75º and sunny. I went for a run, read on my roof, and had my windows open all afternoon. What an ideal day. But, no. A tornado decided to pay a visit to Ann Arbor. It has been hailing for a good hour, there are flash floods all over town, and there is an official Tornado Advisory Warning on Washtenaw County right now. Department of Public Safety sent around an email to the student body telling everyone to stay indoors. And a number of houses the next town over got destroyed by a funnel cloud. Funny to think that 5 hours ago I was basking in the sun in my bathing suit (Hell yeah, 75º is tanning weather. Don't judge).

So naturally, I stayed inside and baked. I'm now holding up in my kitchen with flour all over my arms, still sporting bathing suit bottoms and a big tee. And I've got these lovely little bran muffins in the oven. I guess it's still a perfect day. They are so moist and soft and surprisingly not dense and sweetened by raisins! I will for sure be making these again soon.

Update: I brought these into work and my boss liked them so much he's begging to pay me so I can make him more. Yeah. They're THAT GOOD.

For the muffins:

2 cup wheat bran
1 cup, plus 1/2 cup dark raisins
1 cup, plus 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup buttermilk or plain low- or non-fat yogurt
a few swipes of fresh orange zest
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

Spread the wheat bran on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for six to eight minutes, stirring a few times so it cooks evenly. Let cool.

While the bran is toasting, heat 1 cup of the raisins with 1/2 cup of the water. Simmer for ten minutes, or until the water is all absorbed. Puree the raisins in a food processor or blender until smooth.

In a large bowl, mix together the toasted bran, buttermilk or yogurt, 1 cup water, then mix in the raisin puree, orange zest, and brown sugar.

Stir in the oil, and eggs.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and sift directly into the wet ingredients. Stir until the ingredients are just combined, then mix in the remaining 1/2 cup raisins.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, making sure the batter is mounded slightly in each one. Because muffin tins can very in size, if your tins are larger, make fewer muffins.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the muffins feel set in the center.

Recipe adapted from Pastries from La Brea Bakery by Nancy Silverton

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