Saturday, May 4, 2013

Muffins = kryptonite, raisin redemption, etc

GUYS I MADE GOOD MUFFINS. This is a big moment for me, okay? For whatever reason, I've never successfully made a batch of muffins I actually enjoyed. There was always something wrong, and every batch was either rubbery or dry, and generally very bland...or just became cake. I love a buttery, sweet blueberry muffin as much as the next person, but c'mon - that's just single-serving coffee cake. Delicious, but what I was looking for was something that at least seemed healthy and make you feel a little virtuous.

Enter bran muffins. It took no less than a tag-team of David Lebovitz and the recipe test team at King Arthur Flour to get me over my hump, but believe it or not, we had hot, tender, treacle-y muffins this morning for breakfast and I MADE THEM.

A note, first, about raisins: I don't like them. It's nothing specific, but in almost every application I'd prefer a substitution...and for the most part, that's fine. Oatmeal cookies are better with chocolate chips, granola is better with dried cranberries, etc. This is not one of those times. This recipe needs the dark, musky, molassas-y, almost caramelized fruity sweetness. This recipe makes raisins awesome.

I set out to make Lebovitz's recipe, but when I stopped by the grocery store on my way home last night and couldn't find actual wheat bran, so I needed to find a recipe that used bran cereal instead. Enter King Arthur Flour...except their recipe didn't feature the soak-and-puree of the raisins, which is what intrigued me. I decided to go for a combination, keeping in mind the varied sweetness and moisture levels. This was the result.

Overnight Bran Muffins
Oh, also: This sits in the fridge for at least a few hours, and up to two weeks. I made the batter last night, and we had hot muffins for breakfast this morning. Also, most of the sweetness comes from the raisins puree...if you wanted to cut out refined sugar entirely, puree all of the raisins and leave out the brown sugar, and tell me how it turns out.

Bran cereal: 3 c buds or twigs, or 5 1/2 c flakes - divided.
2 c raisins
2 c boiling  water, divided
1/2 vegetable oil
2 1/2 c flour - I used a mix of whole wheat and white
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 c brown sugar
2 cups buttermilk or thin yogurt

In a large bowl, pour 1 cup boiling water over 1/3rd of the bran cereal, and stir to combine. While it cools, combine raisins and remaining cup of boiling water in a small saucepan and simmer until the raisins are plump, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat and allow raisins to sit and absorb remaining water. Stir oil into now-cool bran mixture and set aside. In a blender or food processor, puree between half and two thirds of the raisins, and stir in with the bran/oil mixture. Add eggs and buttermilk and whisk to combine well. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, and brown sugar. Add to wet ingredients, along with remaining bran cereal and raisins. Cover the bowl, and put it in the fridge overnight, or for at least two hours.
In the morning, preheat the oven to 375 F. Line or grease well and fill as many muffin cups as you want, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

P.S. In case you're now craving buttery, sugary cake muffins, make Vanilla Garlic's cranberry cake in lined muffin tins and thank me later.