One of my husband's favorite breakfast foods is a bran muffin. He had been buying them at the grocery store (ick). So I set out to make a bran muffin he would really like. I tried a bunch of recipes, but couldn't really capture the sweet moist character of a mass-produced muffin (even though mine tasted better and were certainly healthier). I found a recipe in "Cook's Illustrated" called Better Bran muffins (May 2007), and started making that one, with some variations. While I still use its not-so-secret ingredient--All Bran cereal-- I've modified the recipe to make it my own. My husband adores these muffins, so now I'm making them nearly every week. I call them "What I Do For Love" because when the muffin tin goes into the oven, there's a huge mess to be cleaned up--multiple ingredients to put away, many dishes to wash, a food processor to clean. But these are delicious and they freeze well. (And in the photo, the pumpkin seeds are a little dark because I overcooked them--oops!--they still tasted good!) —drbabs
Test Kitchen Notes
WHO: drbabs, an optometrist from Huntington, NY who cooks up a storm of deliciousness in her spare time.
WHAT: A better bran muffin, created to cure her store-bought muffin-eating husband of his bad habit.
HOW: As drbabs mentions, these muffins are a bit of a process -- large bowl, medium bowl, small bowl, whisk, spoons, muffin tins -- but you would do anything for love, wouldn't you?
WHY WE LOVE IT: Light, airy, and chock full of wheat germ, All-Bran and other oldy and goody all-stars of the 80s health food movement, these muffins are a yummy and virtuous way to start the day. —The Editors
unsalted butter, melted and cooled
pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted
All Bran cereal
unbleached all purpose flour
whole wheat flour
Dutch process cocoa powder
raisins or sultanas, plumped in microwave (30 seconds) with 1/4 cup of orange juice
packed light brown sugar
1 3/4 cups
plain yogurt (don't use greek yogurt or the muffins will be too dense.)
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 400° F. Toast pumpkin seeds on cookie sheet while oven is heating, removing them when they are lightly toasted and beginning to puff a little.
Line muffin pan with paper liners.
Process 1 cup of All Bran cereal in food processor until finely ground, about a minute.
In large bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, clove, cocoa powder and wheat germ. Set aside.
In medium bowl (see what I mean?), whisk eggs till blended. Add brown sugar, molasses, vanilla and orange zest. Whisk till mixture is thick, about 30 seconds. Add melted butter. Whisk to combine. Add yogurt. Whisk to combine. Stir in processed cereal and 1 cup of unprocessed cereal. Let mixture sit until entirely moist—about 5 minutes.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and gently fold with rubber spatula until batter is combined and evenly moistened. Stir in raisins and juice if using.
Using a 1/3 cup measure, drop batter into muffin cups forming soft mounds. Don't level surface. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds over the tops of the muffins.
Bake 16-20 minutes, until muffins are dark golden, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached.