We’ve had enough days of cold and snow to bring out a desire for some big bran muffins full of walnuts and raisins. Of course I already have a pretty perfect Buttermilk Bran Muffin recipe, just not all of its ingredients. So I just started throwing items in as substitutes, without doing the kinds of searches for correct substitutes that I might usually do.
- I had almost 1 1/3 cups of whole wheat flour, but needed 2 cups, so I filled the missing flour with all-purpose flour
- The wheat bran looked to be about 1 cup, but I needed 2 cups. Whatever, I just threw in what I had and moved on
- I didn’t have any molasses, so necessary to the typical bran muffin flavor, so I used some dark brown sugar in the same amount
- I didn’t have any buttermilk, but I had about 1 1/2 cups of sour cream, so I threw that in, plus one container of no-sugar-added vanilla Greek yogurt to make up the 2 cups or so
- I added a full cup of chopped walnuts instead of the 1/2 cup in the original and lots of raisins, probably more than the 1/2 cup called for
- Instead of filling the muffin cups to the usual 2/3 full, I scooped in the thick batter so that it towered over the tops like scoops of ice cream in a cone
I wondered if any of these substitutions would adversely affect the texture or flavor of the final bread, but they turned out very good. Lighter in color and sweeter than I expected, these alternative bran muffins fulfilled my desire for a hefty and flavorful winter muffin. Follow the link above for the original recipe and experiment with your own substitutions.
A high, rustic muffin
Imagine this with lots of butter
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
Preheat oven to 350°; butter a muffin tin or use paper liners.
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
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)
- Combine the dry and wet ingredients separately; then mix them together until most of the dry ingredients are moist.
- 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.
- Scoop the batter into greased tins 3/4 full and bake for about 25 minutes.