Nancy Silverton's Bran Muffins

March 31, 2015
19 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Makes 10 muffins (or 12 smaller ones)
Author Notes

A bran muffin that's somehow both more wholesome and more delicious than the rest. Adapted slightly from Pastries from La Brea Bakery (Random House, 2000). —Genius Recipes

What You'll Need
  • 2 cups unprocessed bran
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups water, divided
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest, finely chopped (around 1/3 of an orange)
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1 extra-large egg white
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup stone-ground whole-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Lightly coat a muffin tin with 1/2-cup capacity cups with melted butter, and fit a pastry bag with a large tip (if desired). Set aside. (Editor's Note: Not sure if your muffin tins hold 1/2 cup? A good way to check is to start pouring a measured cup of water in, stop when it's full, and see how much is left in the measuring cup. When in doubt, underfill and pour any extra batter at the end into another mini loaf pan or ramekins.)
  2. Adjust the oven rack to the middle setting and preheat the oven to 350º F.
  3. Spread the bran on the baking sheet and toast for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring halfway through to make sure it doesn't burn.
  4. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup of the raisins and 1 cup of water and simmer on low heat until the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Place in a blender or in a food processor fitted with the steel blade, and process until puréed.
  5. Pour the bran into a large bowl, add the buttermilk and remaining 1/2 cup water, and stir to combine. Stir in the raisin purée, orange zest, and brown sugar.
  6. Add the oil, the whole egg, and the egg white, mixing well to combine.
  7. Sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the raisin mixture. Add the remaining whole raisins and stir to combine.
  8. Fill the pastry bag half full and pipe or spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins, mounding the batter slightly but taking care not to overfill.
  9. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the muffins are well-browned and firm to the touch.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • normadesmond
  • Kelley Bodwell
    Kelley Bodwell
  • Laura Lampkin
    Laura Lampkin
  • Chocowagon
  • Laura415
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

37 Reviews

manpalmer March 24, 2024
Love, love these muffins. The extra steps are well worth the effort. I prep most of the recipe the night before, which makes for quick and easy, mixing, and baking in the morning. I used dates and added a little extra orange zest delicious. Will try other substitutes as suggested.
Patty H. February 22, 2022
Genius recipe!
So moist and so flavorful. I made 12 smaller muffins
but next time I plan to let the batter sit for a bit to thicken
and make the 10 muffins suggested
and add a bit of Swedish sugar to the top
Nlc5175 September 9, 2021
I have had this recipe for years. It’s the only bran muffin recipe I’ve found that doesn’t produce those dry lumps that give bran muffins a bad name. I Love the nuttiness of the toasted bran. I always add 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, but follow the recipe people. If you tweak it do so knowing that baking is science and your results might reflect your failure to follow the instructions.
Tarah T. April 4, 2022
I always tell my family that- BAKING IS A SCIENCE 🤣😉
Lynne C. April 30, 2020
Don’t turn away from this recipe because of some reviews. I have been using this recipe as a template for years and it’s the only muffin my family loves. There is one huge tweak that I use that makes all the difference, I substitute prunes for the raisins. Once the prunes have steeped I blend them with my immersion blender in the pan. Let cool slightly and incorporate just like you would the raisins. I also omit the brown sugar it’s so unnecessary. The prunes provide the ultimate sweetness. Don’t forget the grated orange that’s key also. If you want you can substitute refined coconut oil or even avocado oil for your traditionally used Crisco or canola oil. I add nuts and blueberries or whatever seeds you have in the pantry. These truly are the only muffins you’ll ever go back for making a second time.😋
normadesmond July 16, 2019
Sinamen78 June 25, 2021
I tried these today and have about the same reaction. Not impressive. On a scale of 10, maybe a 5 or 6. Have had way better Bran Muffins than these. Give me a good Morning Glory muffin (KA recipe) any day. Wouldn’t make them again.
jessica May 3, 2019
I think Nancy loves to make recipes "unique" so nobody else will duplicate them... It's too much work! Love her, her restaurants, and her cookbooks!
lisareeve April 16, 2019
Divine! I have made these twice, but skipped pureeing the raisins as it was just one too many steps (although did cook them with the water). Thank you for this sublime recipe!
Donna R. January 31, 2019
I really hate raisins!! Do they have to be used or is there a less undesirable substitute?
Gingarr February 22, 2019
jody May 13, 2019
pmporter November 18, 2019
Loren R. November 5, 2016
This recipe is great as it is, but I also love using it as a base to create other flavors. I make them for my family and will add another 1/2-1 cup of chocolate chips with the raisins. I also add a cup of shredded coconut. I think you could add anything you want and it would turn out great. If you do add chocolate, as I do, I step back a bit on the brown sugar so it isn't too sweet. Have fun!
sushan June 11, 2016
Really appreciate this recipe. I love the large proportion of bran to flours and the fact that it does not contain molasses, which I can't get easily. However it is pretty sweet for my taste. I've made it three times so far, always with a tweak or two. I will be leaving out the extra half cup of water next time and probably all of the sugar. I left out the orange peel once, but it was definitely missing something. I also added blueberries once, which was very nice.
Jennifer M. April 1, 2016
These are the best bran muffins I have every made... not too "healthy" in their vibe, but also not overly sweet. I subbed a couple of things... didn't have all the raisins, so soaked/simmered some old dates in my cupboard. Didn't have buttermilk, so used plain yogurt. Other than that, I followed the recipe. I will be making these regularly. They also stayed fresh & moist & fluffy for a few days - until they were gone.
Lisa L. March 12, 2016
I'm a big fan of Nancy Silverton. I was willing to put in the extra (muffin) work for a great recipe, but am disappointed w/the result. I don't care for the toasted bran flavor. My standard recipe calls for a mashed banana rather than her raisin puree, and honey and molasses in an amount to equal her brown sugar. They're moister (more buttermilk), a bit sweeter and a LOT easier to make. I'll keep trying new recipes b/c that's what I love to do, but this one won't be in my repertoire.
Catherine April 17, 2016
I was also very underwhelmed by this recipe. I did a ton of testing and came out with a substantially modified version of it. My biggest complaint was that the texture of the muffin was almost mushy/slimy straight out of the oven. (They were delicious the next day, but what is the point of homemade muffins then?)

I have small muffin pans,so I increased the heat to 400 so they would rise and cook evenly.

So instead of toasting the bran, I soaked it overnight in the water/buttermilk mixture. (I also exchanged all the water for buttermilk.)

I upped the flour a bit, using 90g AP flour and 50g whole wheat. And, I reduced the oil to 56g and the sugar to 25g. I wanted to be able to slather them in apple butter or salted butter and there was no way that was happening with the current moisture level.

Finally, I altered the leavening, settling on 1 Tbsp of baking powder and 1/2 tsp baking soda. It probably didn't matter that much, but I found the original combo didn't give enough oomph.

I also have made these with just one large egg. The muffins were a little more compact and craggy on top, and didn't rise quite as high, but had the best crumb of all. They dried out faster, however, so I'll probably only use that mod if I know they'll all be eaten right away.
Kelley B. February 25, 2016
has anyone tried subbing the brown sugar for another natural sweetener, like maple syrup or honey? any success? what would be the correct ratio?
Laura415 February 26, 2016
This recipe is pretty forgiving. If you make it one time as stated in the recipe you'll be able to see what consistency the batter is. Then the next time you make it (I've done them 4x already) you could probably start by reducing the water by 1/4 cup adding 1/4 cup of maple syrup (more of a watery consistency) and reducing the brown sugar to a packed 1/4 cup. If that works try to do 1/2 cup maple and 1/2 cup less water and no brown sugar. And so on... If you decide to start with thicker honey add it to the water to thin it so it can be easily mixed in.
Laura L. February 3, 2016
These are phenomenal. Had one fresh out of the oven and could have eaten the other 11 right away.
Rachelle December 14, 2015
I followed the recipe exactly and had FAR too much batter for my standard muffin tin. I have 12 muffins currently overflowing out of the cups, plus a small Pyrex dish containing about 1 or 1.5 cups of batter. I wonder where I went wrong?
Kristen M. December 14, 2015
I'm sorry to hear this—does your muffin tin have a 1/2-cup capacity? (A good way to check is to start pouring a measured cup of water in, stop when it's full, and see how much is left int he measuring cup.) I've learned the hard way too that muffin tins aren't as standard as we'd think.
Rachelle December 14, 2015
Well I'll be damned. I ran your test and it turns out I have 3-oz muffin cups. My little Pyrex bran cake was as delicious as the muffins. Apart from the clean-up, no harm done. Off to get a muffin tin!
Kristen M. December 15, 2015
The bonus Pyrex is a great tip! Thanks for bringing this up—I added a note to the recipe to hopefully save others from overflow.
Chocowagon April 10, 2015
I made these muffins today and substituted currants for raisins. They are so delicious and moist! Thank you for the recipe. It's my first time ever making bran muffins despite their being my favorite kind, what an excellent result. yum.
Laura415 April 8, 2015
I love bran muffins. For a low gluten version I am using sprouted spelt flour (for all the regular and whole wheat flour)and oat bran instead of wheat bran. For a gluten free version use a GF flour and oat bran. Love the idea of sweetening with raisin paste.
Aarika J. April 24, 2019
How did the GF version turn out? :)
Laura415 April 27, 2019
They came out great! Essentially no difference between GF and regular. Both use whole grain flour, both are quick breads so little structure is needed. Bonus GF always makes a tender baked good. Even if you mix it a little more than necessary it won't activate the gluten cos it doesn't have any:) Oat flour is good, Amaranth flour has great taste and body and most GF mixed flours are neutral tasting even if too much starch for my taste. I prefer the taste of whole grain flours.
Aarika J. April 29, 2019
Thank you so much for responding and all the advice, very new to GF baking!! :)
morecheese April 7, 2015
Any tips for replacing the buttermilk for the lactose-intolerant? Will a nut or soy milk work?
Laura415 April 8, 2015
Yes nut milks would work. However, because the recipe contains acidic buttermilk and baking soda the chemistry will be off without some acid. Try souring/curdling your nut milk with a little vinegar before you use it. About a teaspoon in a half cup of nut milk. It may look weird but it will blend in and give you the acid you need to make the baking soda do it's job of creating air bubbles helping the muffins rise.
Laura415 April 8, 2015
PS for anyone who doesn't know you can make faux buttermilk by souring regular milk with vinegar. If I don't have any buttermilk I often do this and it works well.
drbabs April 3, 2015
Interesting. I make bran muffins almost every week, and I've never had success with just bran--the muffins always come out with the consistency of sawdust--which is why I've used All Bran cereal instead. I'm looking forward to trying this.
drbabs May 23, 2015
OK, well, now we know why Nancy Silverton is a professional baker and I'm…..not. These are terrific. I think I'd like them better with melted butter in place of oil, but that's just me. Great recipe.
Two T. April 3, 2015
Yum. Love this one. That raisin paste is pretty much the reason I buy raisins now. The toasting of the bran is such a good step and I use it even if making another muffin involving bran after I read Silverton does that : ) Chef Greg Atkinson actually fussed with this recipe a bit and nixed the buttermilk and extra egg for a bit of molasses. I make that version all the time.