Thursday, October 9, 2008

Flax Bran Muffins

I tend to have these muffins every work morning as a quick breakfast I can have on the bus. I used to love that refrigerator muffin recipe on the All Bran box, but then I got sick of buying ridiculously expensive cereal just to make muffins with it and decided to try just adding bran. I probably don't need to make the bran slurry, but it works this way and I've never bothered to adjust that part of the recipe. The flax replaces some of the oil and provides Omega 3 fatty acids. You can also use flax as an egg substitute in other recipes.

I like these muffins because they're hearty, but not doorstop-heavy. I don't know if they'd pass the texture test of, say, Cooks' Illustrated, but they work for me!

INGREDIENTS
2 cups wheat bran
1-2 cups boiling water
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups sugar (I use raw sugar but you could use brown sugar or even molasses, I bet)
1/4 cup cooking oil
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (if desired, you can substitute 3/4 c. almond meal for 3/4 c flour)
3/4 cup ground flax seed (I use a coffee grinder and keep the whole flax seeds in the freezer)
1 cup oat bran
1 TBSP baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp assorted spices (I do a mix of cinnamon, ginger, cloves or cardamom, even chipotle)
Optional: you can add a 12-ounce can of pumpkin or 1 cup of roasted squash or sweet potato or grated zucchini; I like to add 1 cup chopped walnuts or 1 cup dried tart cherries (or both)

DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and prepare two 12-cup muffin tins
  2. Pour the boiling water over the bran in a small bowl to make a paste and set aside
  3. In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs
  4. Add buttermilk, sugar, oil and squash/zucchini if using. Stir until mixed.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal (if using), flax, oat bran, baking soda, salt and spices
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just mixed
  7. Stir in the bran paste
  8. Add the nuts and/or cherries if using and stir briefly
  9. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins (I load them pretty full)
  10. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (it's usually closer to 20 or even 22 minutes)
These muffins freeze beautifully. I defrost for 1 minute in the microwave and then toast them in the toaster oven on Medium for a crunchy-ish top

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