Bran Muffins always fall under the “healthy” category, but it doesn’t mean that they can’t taste great too. They’re one of my Dad’s favorite muffin and for years, the “go to” recipe was from the box of Bran cereal. I decided it was time for an updated recipe, and found this one from Cooks Illustrated called, appropriately enough, “the Best Bran Muffin”. It promised a classic bran muffin that tasted deeply of bran and a moist, tender texture. I think the secret is the Wheat Bran (rather than cereal) and the combination of buttermilk and sour cream.
1¼ cups bleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup whole wheat flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon table salt
1 ¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
½ cup dark brown sugar plus 2 additional tablespoons
2 large eggs
2 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsulphured molasses
¼ cup sour cream
1 cup buttermilk plus 3 additional tablespoons
1½ cups wheat bran (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1 cup raisins
1. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flour through nutmeg in medium bowl; set aside.
2. Beat butter in large bowl of electric mixer or with handheld mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add brown sugar, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until combined and fluffy, about 1 minute longer. Add eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly before adding the next. Beat in vanilla, molasses, and sour cream until thoroughly combined and creamy, about 1 minute longer. Reduce speed to low; beat in buttermilk and half the flour mixture until combined, about 1 minute. Beat in remaining flour mixture until incorporated and slightly curdled looking, about 1 minute longer, scraping sides of bowl as necessary. Stir in bran and raisins.
3. Spray a twelve mold muffin tin (each mold measuring 1/2 cup) or a six mold muffin tin (each mold measuring one cup) with cooking spray or coat lightly with butter; divide batter evenly among molds using spoon or ice cream scoop. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center withdraws cleanly or with a few moist particles adhering to it, about 25 minutes. Set on wire rack to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove muffins from tin and serve warm.