All day yesterday I was putting off baking these muffins.
They just didn’t sound appealing. I like bran muffins, but as we’ve discussed, “chunky” is not an adjective I like applied to my baked goods. And I dislike raisins.
And DATES!! I do not enjoy dates. Or ever have them on hand, so 7PM on Sunday was not the best time to realize I needed them.
And there were just weird instructions too, which made me kind of hesitant.
On Twitter I was ranting about dates, and raisins, and frankly whining a bit, when my lovely friend Nicole pointed out that really, I could make changes to the recipe and the world wouldn’t end.
SHOCK! SACRILEGE!! I CAN’T MESS WITH DOROTHY’S RECIPES!!!
Then common sense and a lack of certain ingredients prevailed, and I did alter the recipe. I’ll reproduce it here as written, and explain in “the process” where I made changes.
If anyone does bake these following the original instructions, please let us know in the comments how they turned out.
Combine, set aside
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup brown sugar
Add to butter / sugar mixture and beat in
Add buttermilk & soda to egg mixture, then add and blend
1 tbsp. molasses
1 cup natural bran
Stir in flour mixture, then fold in
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup nuts
1/4 cup dates
Bake at 375F for 20 minutes. Makes 12.
OK! Commence the changes!
First, I used soured milk instead of buttermilk – soured milk is just one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to one cup of milk; let it sit for a few minutes and voila! I was pretty nervous about putting in the baking soda, because we’ve all make soda / vinegar volcanoes for a science fair project at some point, right? It did bubble a bit but nothing crazy, so I put that aside and moved on to the next step.
Creaming the butter & sugar was a flat-out joy in my new KitchenAid mixer (and no, I have not been compensated in any way for this post, sadly). I didn’t need to soften the butter first; I just broke it up a bit with my hands and the mixer took care of the rest. If you do a lot of baking, a heavy-duty stand mixer is worth the money. If you, like me, have been eyeing one for years and wondering if you really need to spend that much on a kitchen appliance – wonder no more. You do. You can thank me later.
A quick Google search convinced me that “natural bran” just means plain old bran flakes, as opposed to “All-Bran cereal” which is an ingredient in some of Dorothy’s other recipes. I’ve only ever used bran flakes anyway, because of cost, so that was an easy one.
I didn’t want to use dates, and as it turns out I’d used up all the raisins, too – so in the end I used 1/2 cup of frozen wild blueberries and 1/4 cup finely-chopped walnuts. Nicole suggested dried cranberries instead of raisins, which would also be delicious, especially when combined with the blueberries. They’d be safe for school lunches then, too, because you could leave out the nuts.
As bran muffins always do, it made a rather unappealing-looking batter. However, I forged ahead. Using 1/4 cup of batter per cup yielded 12 good-sized muffins.
Confession time: I haven’t actually tasted these yet. I’m saving them for morning snack and once me and my
test monkeys well-compensated focus group captive audience of preschoolers & toddlers have voted, I’ll let you know. Michael had one last night when they were still warm from the oven and commented that they didn’t need additional butter, thanks to the rather vast quantities baked right in. He also said that he “really enjoyed that muffin” – although both of us are being much more ascetic than usual now in a serious bid to finally lose some weight, so he may have been biased by the taste of buttery goodness.
I will say that they look very tasty, with the classic bran-muffin dark honey brown colour, and dark purple spots from the blueberries.
Honey Bran. You will need bran flakes, buttermilk or soured milk, and honey. I’m looking forward to those. No fruit! No chunks!