Saturday, April 2, 2011

better bran muffins

Bran muffins are NOT my usual go to breakfast item when I'm staring into a pastry case. My first picks seem to be an almond or chocolate croissant or even a multi-grain bagel if I'm thinking about being healthy.

So I'm a food person and I also attract others who LOVE food and I LOVE THAT! Since Spring has sprung (well, kinda), my girlfriends and I are trying to head down a more healthier track and get our bodies ready for swimsuit season. Don't get me wrong, we eat healthy, but we also like to indulge in a not-so-friendly treat.  

These bran muffins do have their fare share of brown sugar in them, but they also have a substantial amount of bran and whole wheat in them that you'll feel like you're getting a healthy start to your morning.

Better Bran Muffins
This recipe comes from one of my favorite food mags Cook's Illustrated.
These are "better" bran muffins! Moist and full of flavor. Not your dry and tasteless bran muffins that are wrapped in plastic and can be found at the local deli around the corner.  

1 cup raisins (or dried cranberries, cherries or blueberries)
1 teaspoon water
2 1/4 cups (5 ounces) All-Bran Original cereal ***this cereal looks like "twigs"***
1 1/4 cups (6 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2/3 cup (4 2/3 ounces) packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons mild molasses (or light)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), melted and cooled
1 3/4 cup whole-milk yogurt ***you can substitute non or low fat yogurt here, but the muffins will be less flavorful***

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400˚. Spray a standard-sized muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. ***I used my new "tulip" paper liners, but you can use just ordinary paper liners. I also think you might be able to squeeze 18 muffins out of this recipe if your muffin cups seem small. My tulip liners stood way above the muffin cup which held the batter in. Be careful not to overfill your cups or you might have a big mess*** Combine raisins and water in a small microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap, poke several steam vents in plastic with a paring knife, and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. Let stand, covered, until raisins are softened and plump, about 5 minutes. Transfer raisins to paper towel-lined plate to cool.

Process half of the bran cereal in a food processor until finely ground, about 1 minute. Whisk flours, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl to combine; set aside. Whisk egg and yolk together in a medium bowl until well-combined and light colored, about 20 seconds. Add sugar, molasses, and vanilla; whisk until mixture is thick, about 30 seconds. Add melted butter and whisk to combine; and yogurt and whisk to combine. Stir in processed cereal and unprocessed cereal; let mixture sit until cereal is evenly moistened (there will still be some small lumps), about 5 minutes.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and gently mix with a rubber spatula until batter is combined and evenly moistened. Do not overmix. Gently fold raisins into batter. Using 1/3-cup measure or ice cream scoop, divide evenly among muffin cups, dropping batter to form mounds. Do not level or flatten surfaces of mounds. 

Bake until muffins are dark golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 16 to 20 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. ***Most ovens are funky, so I baked mine for 25 minutes***  Cool muffins in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

***I didn't love the raisins in these muffins. I've said it before, they are not my faves.....Next time I'm gonna try dried cherries of even blueberries***

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