Birthday Blueberry Bran Muffins


For J’s birthday today I baked him blueberry bran muffins. The funny thing about this fellow is he doesn’t like sweets of any kind. No pastries, cakes, cookies etc. I suppose this creates a healthy balance for our household. If he did like sweets I would be baking all the time and would probably weigh 500 pounds. J’s only vaguely baked good related weakness is bran muffins. He’s probably tried every bran muffin in the city from places high and low, ranging from Tim Hortons and the sad muffins in the subway station, to Whole Foods, Pusateris and various neighborhood coffee shops. As a result of extensive taste testing we’ve decided the blueberry bran muffins at Whole Foods are our number one favorite.

When we first started dating I would to troll the Internet for recipes and bake a different version of bran muffins every week. None of them came close to the Whole Foods muffins. Eventually I became disheartened and gave up. For J’s birthday this year I decided to give it another go and tried out a simple recipe from Heidi Swanson’s beautiful food blog 101 Cookbooks. The recipe appealed to me because it sounded like the right balance between yummy ingredients and healthfulness, using full fat yogurt (2 cups!), honey, egg, and just 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. While these muffins are not really like the Whole Foods muffins, we were very happy with the way they turned out (I ate 2 in row fresh out of the oven) and would definitely make them again.

What I really liked about this recipe was that it didn’t call for molasses. So many of the recipes I’ve tried have used molasses and I didn’t like the sticky heaviness it gave the muffins. One thing I would do differently with the next batch would be to increase the amount of bran. It’s just a matter of personal preference, but I like more of a scratchy roughage feeling going down. The recipe calls for 1 cup of add-ins like raisins, other dried fruit, or nuts, but I used frozen wild blueberries instead. I was concerned the addition of non-dried fruit would add too much moisture to the batter, but they baked up just fine. I chose wild blueberries over regular ones because I thought their smaller size would make for a nicer bite. If you’re using frozen berries there is no need to thaw them, just mix them in frozen.

Blueberry Bran Muffins

From 101 Cookbooks (adapted from Bran Muffin recipie in The New York Times Natural Foods Cookbook, published 1971)

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups wheat bran, plus a little extra for sprinkling
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 cups full fat yogurt (I used 3.5%)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup wild blueberries (frozen or fresh)

Preheat oven to 425°F, racks in the middle.

Combine flour, wheat bran, salt, baking soda and sugar in a bowl.

Beat together yogurt, egg, honey, and butter in a separate larger bowl. Add dry ingredients and mix until everything comes together. Fold in blueberries. Do not overmix.

Grease a large 12 muffin tin with butter or line with muffin papers. Using an ice cream scoop portion out batter. The recipe called for filling the cups 3/4 full, but I filled mine to the top and they didn’t spill over when baking. Sprinkle tops of muffins with additional wheat bran.

Bake for 20 minutes or till muffins are golden on top and cooked through. Makes 12 muffins.

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