Ever since I started dating Phil he spoke fondly about a bran muffin that he enjoyed on a regular basis at Hans’ Danish Bakery in Berkeley (it closed years ago), during his grad student, “hippie days.”  At that time (while living in Brazil and not quite a teenager) I watched the hippie movement from afar, too young to embrace or fully understand it.  Never in a gazzilion years could I imagine that one of those long-haired, tie-dyed,  war-protesting, head-banded hippies would become my husband.   We didn’t meet until decades later, but the passion for peace and love,  tie-dyes, and hippie ideals are still in-force around our home, and that includes a fondness for  bran muffins!   No sense quitting what makes us happy. 😉

Nevertheless, my attempts to recreate the famous bran muffin from Berkeley were stuck on a road paved with failure and frustration, until this past weekend my luck began to change. I went to Dan Lepard’s collection of recipes at The Guardian in search of his take on the elusive bran muffin, and adapted his recipe to suit my favorite hippie’s finicky taste.

(adapted from Dan Lepard’s original recipe)

75g wheat bran
100g dark brown sugar
200ml milk (3/4 cup)
1 Tbs molasses
zest of 1 orange
150ml vegetable oil (1/2 + 1/8 cup)
2 large eggs
200g all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
75g sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup dried raisins and dried blueberries
1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped

Heat the oven to 400F (200C)  and line the cups of 6 large muffin tins with paper.

Place the wheat bran and the brown sugar in a mixing bowl.  Bring the milk almost to a boiling point, and pour it over the bran. Mix to incorporate, and allow it to sit for 5 minutes.  Beat in the molasses, orange zest, oil and eggs until very smooth.

Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt, then gently mix this through the bran mixture trying not to over-mix.  Fold in the blueberries, raisins, dried blueberries, and walnuts.  Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin tin, and bake for about half an hour, until they get a dark brown color on top and feel firm to the touch.  Tip the muffins slightly off the pan to cool them without steaming the bottom.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Because some people find them too dense or dry, almost austere, bran muffins are not everyone’s favorite.  But, these muffins are different, starting with their nice texture, and finishing with a great balance of whole grain flavor and sweetness. I dare saying that they will please even a hard core anti-bran person.   They received a nod of approval from the resident muffin-connoisseur, who said the main difference between these and those in his memory was the orange flavor, which is pronounced in Dan’s recipe.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that… 😉  But my next batch will  omit the orange zest.

I already smell the fireworks…

ONE YEAR AGO: Flourless Chocolate Cake (a chocolate lover’s dream come true)

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  1. I must say that muffins are mysterious to me. Although they are quite popular in Poland (muffin places growing like mushrooms after the rain), I hesitate to do them at home, as I do not like sweets too much. I am tempted, however, to bake some savory muffins, but I do not have a recipe.

    Anyway, my husband would love your recipe.

    Kinds regards, Magdalena


    • Magdalena, I have a recipe for zucchini/mozzarella muffins in my ‘to make very very soon” file… It is also from Dan Lepard, so I’m sure it will be delicious. If you want to have the recipe soon, drop me an email at sallybr2008 at, and I’ll forward it to you….


  2. Great post Sally – those look like quite the nicest bran muffins I have ever seen. I never quite understand the transatlantic enthusiasm for them, along with green jello ring salad with green beans and cottage cheese, but to each nation their own culinary delights 🙂


    • Well, well, well… I’ll pass on the jello ring salad – I actually heard about that monstrosity, but have been lucky enough to never seen it in real life 😉

      Now, muffins can be delicious – especially if not overly sweet, or they get too much into the cupcake territory


  3. I must be a hippie, because I like bran muffins too! There was a version I used to bake all the time that included lemon zest. I haven’t made them for a long time, so I should revisit the idea. Dan’s recipe sounds great!


  4. @Joanna…. oh, don’t even worry about it! I knew what you mean… in fact, I think we can add those dreadful sweet potato casseroles with marshmallows on top to the jelly ring club!

    @Anne… we are watching Seinfeld re-runs these days, and enjoying all the typical lines over and over… great show!

    @Celia… I cannot stand the dry ones myself, so believe me, these are worth a try!

    @Lisa… I have yet to make a recipe from Dan that doesn’t work. The guy knows what he’s doing, no doubt about it!


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