Tag Archives: molasses

Apple Oat Bran Muffins

Remember when I took my go-to Quick Banana Bread and turned it into  Whole Wheat Oatmeal Banana Bread? It turned out very well, and it wasn’t the first time I had started with the simple recipe and made simple changes to achieve a different taste or texture. I changed it up once by taking out the banana and adding pumpkin for Skip the Bananas, Add Pumpkin: Nut Bread. I even used it to make Espresso Banana Walnut Bread. You get the point: one basic recipe that you like and that works is just waiting to help you make something new.

I’m in love with Buttermilk Bran Muffins, making them all the time to put in the freezer, so I can pop out just one for lunch whenever I’m in the mood. I love the strong sweetness of molasses and raisins, and the hearty combination of whole wheat flour and wheat bran. As I said in the original post, they are not really a dessert muffin, but they are just the kind of sweetness I like. So, it’s not that I need to make the recipe better; I just wanted to see how well it would adapt to a few other flavors. I made only a few changes to achieve a differently sweet muffin with a lighter crumb:

  • I replaced the raisins with roughly chopped unsweetened dried apples—the moist kind, not the crispy apple chips
  • I replaced the 2 cups whole wheat flour with 1 cup of the flour and 1 cup of whole grain rolled oats

That’s all. I kept the original wheat bran, the buttermilk, the molasses, etc. The resulting muffins have an interesting chewiness from the apples, and the oats made the muffin crumb a little more crumbly, but still moist. Most surprisingly, the molasses doesn’t dominate as it does in the original; I was worried that it would be too strong against the apple, but the apple and molasses create a totally different sweetness in this muffin.

Apple Oat Bran Muffins

  • Servings: 6-8 jumbo muffins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Preheat oven to 350°; butter a muffin tin or use paper liners.

Dry ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup whole grain rolled oats

1 1/2 cups wheat bran (I used Bob’s Red Mill miller’s wheat bran)

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt (the recipe said 1/4 teaspoon)

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

Wet ingredients:

2 cups buttermilk (I used dried buttermilk, reconstituted)

1 beaten egg

1/2 cup molasses

4 tablespoons melted butter (the recipe said 2-4)


1/2-3/4 cup chopped walnuts

3/4 cup unsweetened dried apples, roughly chopped (I probably could have chopped mine a little more)

  1. Combine the dry and wet ingredients separately; then mix them together until most of the dry ingredients are moist.
  2. Fold in the nuts and apples, mixing until all is combined. I used a stand mixer to mix all together just until combined. This is a wetter batter than the one that is all whole wheat.
  3. Scoop the batter into greased tins 3/4 full and bake for about 25 minutes.

Buttermilk Bran Muffins

I suppose you’ve seen the Molasses Ginger cookies featured on my home page, and maybe I’ve said that oatmeal-raisin are my all-time favorite cookie, so it should come as no surprise that bran muffins with molasses and raisins are my favorite muffin. I’m just making six large muffins, instead of a dozen small ones—or as the recipe suggests twenty-two 2″ muffins. This recipe from my old Joy of Cooking (1967, p. 581) uses buttermilk, helping these hefty muffins retain some tenderness. I’m also adding some chopped walnuts with the raisins for a little crunch.

I would not call these a dessert muffin

I wouldn’t serve these on a dessert plate with a cup of tea. I think of them as more of a slightly-sweet bread to eat for lunch with lots of butter and cream cheese and a big mug of coffee. They are not for the faint of heart.

The amount of batter the recipe makes is odd—maybe the muffin pans were different in 1967. It filled my jumbo muffin pan with enough left over for a small loaf pan. I couldn’t find my little individual loaf pans, after rearranging the cupboards recently, so I ended up filling a small 7 3/8″ x 3 5/8″ loaf pan about half full.

The recipe offered two optional ingredients that I did not have on hand, but that I think would add very nice flavor and moisture: orange zest and mashed banana. I’m particularly interested in adding the orange next time.

Buttermilk Bran Muffins

  • Servings: 6-8 large muffins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Preheat oven to 350°; butter a muffin tin or use paper liners.


Dry ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups wheat bran (I used Bob’s Red Mill miller’s wheat bran)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (the recipe said 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • Optional: 1-2 tablespoons grated orange rind)

Wet ingredients:

  • 2 cups buttermilk (I used whole buttermilk)
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter (the recipe said 2-4)


  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • Optional: 1/2 cup mashed bananas


  1. Combine the dry and wet ingredients separately; then mix them together until most of the dry ingredients are moist.
  2. Fold in the nuts and raisins, mixing until all is combined. I did all my mixing with a large wooden spoon instead of a mixer, as muffin batters produce a better crumb if not overmixed. A muffin should be coarse in grain, instead of soft and fine like a cake—but clearly there are different kinds of muffins for different purposes.
  3. Spoon the heavy batter into greased tins 3/4 full and bake for about 25 minutes.


Apple-Walnut Gingerbread Cobbler

I know it won’t last, but I’m wearing long pants and a long-sleeved shirt today, and declaring it fall. I’m combining two fall flavors that I love in this dessert—apples and gingerbread—but not going in the typical direction of muffins or nut bread. Why not put them together in a cobbler, where both the apples and the gingerbread shine on their own, but work even better together?

I’m using Annie Somerville’s “Gingerbread” from her Fields of Greens (1993) cookbook, with two changes. I’m using agave syrup instead of corn syrup and sour cream instead of buttermilk. I like this recipe because the focus is on the fresh ginger. There is only a small 1/4 cup of molasses, a little brown sugar, but no other spices. No cinnamon, no cloves, no nutmeg. Just lots of grated ginger—1/2 cup! With all that ginger and only a little molasses, the batter is much lighter in color than a traditional gingerbread. I did add a half teaspoon of cinnamon to the apple mixture, but that was a small amount for five apples.

Apple-Walnut Gingerbread Cobbler

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Preheat oven to 350°; butter a 9 inch square or round baking dish with at least a 2 inch depth.

Apple Filling

5 medium-large apples, pared and cut in chunks or slices

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup white sugar

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

Optional: 1 tablespoon flour, if your apples are very juicy


Adapted from Annie Somerville’s “Gingerbread,” Fields of Greens (1993).

1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, room temperature

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1 egg

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup agave syrup

1/2 cup sour cream

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup grated fresh ginger

  1. Pare and chop apples. Keep apples in bowl of acidulated water while making batter. Roughly chop walnuts and set aside with the rest of the filling ingredients.
  2. Beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  3. Beat egg, molasses, and agave syrup. Add to creamed butter and brown sugar, beating well.
  4. Beat in sour cream.
  5. Mix dry ingredients and slowly mix into batter.
  6. Lastly, mix in the 1/2 cup of grated ginger.
  7. Strain apples, then mix with melted butter, nuts, cinnamon, salt, and sugar (and flour, if using).
  8. Pour apple mixture into prepared dish.
  9. Pour batter over apples, lightly spreading almost to edges of dish. It will spread out more as it bakes, and will be less likely to burn on the edges if you don’t spread it all the way.
  10. Bake until the gingerbread is browned and cracked and the apples are bubbling around the edges. That took about 45 minutes in my oven. Unlike baking gingerbread in a baking pan where it touches the pan all around, the bottom of the gingerbread cooks with the apples, so it takes a little longer.

Do try some warm with whipped cream.

Sparkling Molasses Ginger Cookies

My husband just finished the batch of chocolate chip cookies I made for him last week, using this recipe, except with walnuts, so it was my turn for a cookie.

I wanted a molasses ginger cookie that used fresh rather than dried ginger and cardamom instead of cloves, and of course I wasn’t going to find such a cookie on the web, at least not easily, so I looked around for the best one to alter to my purposes. I also didn’t want the typical cookie that uses only 1/4 cup of molasses and relies on other dried spices for the flavor. I like the molasses flavor, especially up against fresh ginger. Eventually I found this interesting recipe on the molasses product site, but felt that it went too far in using 1.5 cups of molasses! Wow, that’s a lot. In addition, the 4 cups of flour seemed like it would make a dry cookie, and I wanted a soft cookie that wasn’t heavy. So the changes began:

  • I cut the molasses to 1 cup and used 1/4 cup of agave syrup instead of sugar.
  • I cut the flour to 3 cups, but added 1 cup of ground walnuts to make up the bulk needed for all that liquid sugar. The walnuts also add a nice depth of flavor, especially as the cookies age.
  • I cut out the cloves (which give me heartburn) and added 1 tablespoon of finely ground fresh ginger and 1 teaspoon of cardamom to the already listed 2 teaspoons of cinnamon.
  • I used butter instead of vegetable shortening, and I rolled balls of the dough in sparkling decorating sugar, which adds a nice crunch around the soft cookie.

Sparkling Molasses Ginger Cookies

  • Servings: 3 dozen
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Preheat oven to 350°; line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Liquid ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted (I think you could work with room temperature butter, too)
  • 1 cup molasses, unsulphured
  • 1/4 cup agave syrup
  • 1 tablespoon finely ground fresh ginger (sold conveniently in tubes in the produce section)
  • 1 egg

Dry ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup ground walnuts
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom

Decorating sugar for rolling

  1. Combine melted or room temperature butter and sugars in mixing bowl. Beat in egg and ginger.
  2. Combine dry ingredients and mix into liquid ingredients. The dough will be soft and shiny and pliable, but not sticky. If the dough is too soft to hold a ball shape, refrigerate for a half hour or so until the butter sets up.
  3. Roll dough into balls about the size of large walnuts. Carefully roll in decorating sugar and place on cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. They spread some, but not like a flat cookie. I like to put only 6 cookies on a sheet at a time, but you should be able to fit more in.
  4. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes and remove to cooling rack. Store in airtight containers.

These might be my new favorite cookie, next to a buttery shortbread. They are spicy and sweet without being overpowering. If you have people in your family who don’t like spice cookies, they might like these.