Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Blue Sky bran muffins

Way back when I was a student and working part-time in cafés, muffins were big. Literally. Huge, puffed-up, cricket ball-size sugar bombs. There was always some sort of vague attempt to present them as a healthy option (often by just placing them next to cheesecake, mudcake or caramel slice), especially if there was fruit involved. Apple cinnamon was popular, as was blueberry, and banana, but the hot seller was triple chocolate. There would have been more nutritional value in eating the tin. While all this was going on, my mother was having a muffin moment of her own. And hers couldn't have been more different. As a teenager, it's your duty to treat with deep suspicion anything a parent makes and tries to sell as good for you. My mother's version of the muffin was dense with bran, and wholemeal flour and fruit and just about anything else she had lying around and needed to use up, causing me to not-so-affectionately refer to them as compost muffins. Mum, I'm sorry. Especially when now as a fully-fledged adult, I'm drawn to a recipe that looks not so different to yours. Plus or minus a bit of brown sugar. And buttermilk. Deb Perelman posted this recipe - from Brooklyn's Blue Sky Bakery - a few weeks ago on her blog Smitten Kitchen, and ever since I'd had a craving. And, after a few failed attempts to find wheat bran, I finally got to satisfy it Saturday. I wasn't disappointed.

These muffins may not be quite as virtuous as the ones my mother makes, but they're a nice in-between: chewy bran, fresh fruit, and a satisfying sweetness. You can use any fruit you like (fresh, frozen, overripe, underripe), they come together in five minutes, bake for not much longer, and freeze well, which means... I can save some for my mother's next visit. It's the least I can do.

Blue Sky bran muffins
Adapted from a recipe by Smitten Kitchen

After a bit of aimless wandering in supermarkets, I tracked down wheat bran at my local health food store. The inconvenience of having to go to a separate place to find it was offset by the cost. A medium size bag of organic wheat bran set me back a measly $3 and will do for many muffins to come.

1 1/3 cups (315 ml) buttermilk (you can also use sour cream or yoghurt thinned with a little milk)
1 large egg
1/3 cup (80 ml) oil (such as vegetable, safflower, sunflower or olive oil)
1/4 cup (50 grams) lightly packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (90 grams) wheat bran
1 cup (125 grams) flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons bicarb (baking) soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons sugar, divided (I used raw sugar)
3/4 to 1 cup chopped mixed fruit (I used raspberry and pear)

Heat oven to 425 degrees F and coat a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick spray.

Whisk buttermilk, egg, oil, brown sugar and any vanilla or citrus zest you’d like to use in a small bowl. Whisk bran, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Stir wet mixture into dry until just combined and still a bit rough. 

Spoon two 2 tablespoons of batter into each prepared muffin cup. Add about 2 teaspoons fruit to each (dividing it evenly) and sprinkling the fruit with one of the teaspoons of granulated sugar. Spoon remaining batter (about 1 tablespoon each) over fruit and sprinkle tops of muffins with remaining teaspoon of granulated sugar. 

Bake muffins for a total of 16 to 18 minutes, rotating pan once midway through baking time for even browning, until a toothpick inserted into the center of muffins comes out with just a few crumbs attached. Do not overbake. Let muffins cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from tin. 

Do ahead: Muffins keep for 3 days at room temperature, longer in the freezer.

1 comment:

  1. These look great Alice. I think a good muffin has to have slightly wholesome quality to it otherwise you might as well be eating cupcakes.