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IMG_0650.jpg bran muffins

I love this bran muffin and it alarms me that sometimes a great old recipe can unknowingly slip away or be forgotten by the excitement and fickleness of finding a new recipe. Our bran muffin at Sarabeth's has undergone very few changes since its debut in 1981. In fact, every January I review our recipe books and reprint the pages so that we can start the new year with a fresh copy minus the fingerprints of butter and the flour that has found its way between the pages. Sometimes the bakers will make a note or two in the margins; adjustments to the baking time and temperature depending on how large the batches are and how full the oven is. There are also recipe edits that I have made during the year in my own handwriting. These tweaks are subtle—more vanilla, extra lemon zest or a different chocolate.

Last week while working with the evening bakers, I noticed something was not quite right with our bran muffin. (Anyone who has had our muffins knows how particular I am, not only with the taste but with their appearance.) I decided to do the bake off that evening and keep an eye on them myself. I was on a mission and stood in the oven room and watched. To my dismay, the muffins began to spread and they took too long to bake. When they came out of the oven I became impatient—wanting to taste them right away, I restrained  myself. You can't judge anything correctly right out of the oven. When I did finally break the muffin opened, I was surprised how overly moist the inside was.—much too wet and although it tasted ok, but it did not have the wow factor of the original muffin. 

I opened our recipe book and turned to the recipe. To my surprise I discovered a change in one on the ingredients. It was buttermilk instead of the original whole milk called for in the recipe. How does such a thing happen? Many times the bakers will say" Sarabeth, you made the change", and sometimes they are correct— but not in this instance When one uses buttermilk, there is usually the addition of baking soda to calm the acidity from the cultured milk. That was the tell tale giveaway, there was no baking soda in the recipe. Still puzzled, I turned to my recently published baking book to compare the recipes—as I suspected, whole-milk. As much as I love tweaking and trying to improve recipes— if it's not broken, don't fix it.

Honey Bran Muffins

Makes 10-12 muffins

Softened unsalted butter, for the pan
1 ⅔ cup wheat bran (not bran breakfast cereal) 
1 ⅔ cup unbleached flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ½-inch cubes
¼ cup superfine sugar
⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon mild honey, such as clover or blended blossom 
2 large eggs, at room temperature 
1 cup whole milk
1 cup seedless raisins 
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400°F. Brush the insides of 10 muffin cups with softened butter, then brush the top of the pan. 
2. Whisk the bran, flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Beat the butter in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed, until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually add the sugar. Beat, scraping the sides of the bowl often with a silicone spatula, until the mixture is very light in color and texture, about 5 minutes. Add the honey and beat for 1 minute. One at a time, beat in the eggs, beating well after each addition. Reduce the mixer speed to low. In thirds, beat in the bran mixture, alternating with the two additions of the milk, scraping down the sides of the bowl often, and mix until smooth. Stir in the raisins. 
3. Using a 2 ½-inch ice-cream scoop, portion the batter, rounded-side up, into the prepared cups. 
4. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and continue baking until the tops of the muffins are browned, and a wire cake tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 15 minutes more. 
5. Cool in the pan for 10  minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and cool completely. 

Tags: Bran Muffin , breakfast , muffins , Sarabeth's Bakery , Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours

Categories: Breakfast, Brunch, Muffins


Your Comments

Laura  | March 18, 2012 5:35 PM

Thanks for the recipe. I look forward to trying it as it has been a long time since I have had the perfect bran muffin.

On the other hand shame on you for criticizing your baking staff in a public forum. Think how embarrassed they might be if anyone they know reads your blog.

Your Comments

Cuba Culinary  | August 11, 2012 8:24 PM

I like this post and plan to contribute more in the future. In the meantime,
check our Cuba main dishes website.

Your Comments

Lasse  | January 26, 2013 1:43 PM

Mmmm, will try it tomorrow. Thanks :-)

Your Comments

Anwarali  | February 8, 2013 9:20 AM

I liked your recipes

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