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As a kid, I loved All-Bran muffins. All-Bran was purchased expressly for muffins and I was pretty happy to see a new box in the cupboard. I’m not sure that bran muffins are typically what you think of as a kid-friendly choice, but that recipe made muffins that were so sweet, nutty and good, they ranked right behind my Mom’s (epic) blueberry muffins on my list of favorites. I don’t know that I have ever made them myself– is All-Bran still available to buy? I’m not even entirely sure what it is. So, why the extended intro about All-Bran muffins? It’s because this recipe, which I have made for the past few weekends and now must share, tastes just like the All-Bran muffins I remember from childhood.

The first batch was an accident– I was trying to make Alton Brown’s blueberry muffin recipe specifically because I had yogurt to use up and not enough butter to make my Mom’s. (I told you they were epic.) I had all the wet ingredients measured and mixed when I discovered we didn’t have enough cake flour on hand. We didn’t have any cake flour on hand, so I did an elaborate and haphazard mix of all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour and cornstarch. Why whole wheat flour? Because I ran out of all-purpose flour 8 oz. in to the 12 1/2 oz. of flour called for. Whoops. I should know better than to bake before coffee! Here’s the thing: the muffins that came out of this experiment were delicious! I had to add a little milk to thin a very thick batter, but the flavor and texture were wonderful: moist from the yogurt, slightly nutty from the whole wheat flour and appropriately sweet from the juicy blueberries. The vanilla is key, in a way I can’t quite put my finger on, but don’t leave it out; if anything, add a bit more. My husband loved them and asked me to make them again. For the second batch I used all whole-wheat flour, though slightly less than before, and didn’t bother with any cornstarch. Once again, perfect muffins. The recipe I used for this second batch is what I am sharing below. Though blueberries are always a delicious addition to muffins, I think these might be really great plain, and I am tempted to make a batch with bananas in place of the berries– for some reason I remember bananas being great with All-Bran.

If the All-Bran muffin recipe that was on the side of the box (remember?) in the late 70’s and early 80’s is a fond memory for you, too, please let me know if these muffins are similar to what you remember from back in the day. Perhaps All-Bran is made from whole wheat flavored with vanilla? Who knows. I feel like I stumbled on to something good here, taking a great recipe and adding a twist that made the muffins equally good and with a bonus twist of nostalgia. Give them a try next weekend, or soon– and check your ingredients before you start to mix. A word of wisdom.

whole-wheat muffins with blueberries & vanilla

Whole-Wheat Muffins with Blueberries & Vanilla (adapted from Alton Brown)

  • 12 oz. whole-wheat flour (I like Bob’s Red Mill)*
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 c. plain yogurt
  • 1/2 c. canola oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a pan or pans to hold 12 “Texas” or jumbo muffins (or about 16 regular-size muffins) by lining with papers or greasing well with extra canola oil or baking spray.

In a large bowl, mix together the yogurt, canola oil, vanilla, sugar and egg. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add the dry ingredients and blueberries to the wet ingredients and stir together just until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Use a cookie scoop or large spoon to fill the prepared muffin cups; bake for 23-25 mins. until golden brown. A toothpick inserted into the center of one of your larger muffins should come out clean, provided you don’t put it through a blueberry. I found it helpful to turn the pans halfway through the cooking time so they browned evenly. Serve warm, or store in a tightly-covered container at room temperature for about 3 days. Muffins can be frozen for up to 3 months.

*If it’s an option, I highly recommend weighing your flour; whole-wheat flours vary so much brand to brand. If you don’t own a scale (here’s the one I use and recommend), 12 oz. is roughly equivalent to 2 2/3 c.

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