Every single time I type raisin it comes as raising instead. Pumpkin more often than not becomes pumpking. You could assume I have issues with words that end with “in”, but when sous-vide first gets written as sous-vice, and kitchen turns to chicken that hypothesis falls flat on its face. Oh, well. The mind works in mysterious ways. Even more mysterious, though, is what constitutes the perfect bran muffin as far as my beloved is concerned.  It’s been a while since I baked a batch, so it’s time to share my latest attempt at reaching his Bran Muffin Nirvana. Keep in mind that they have to be big, very bran-y, and loaded with nuts and raisins. I adapted a very popular recipe from Heidi Swanson and surprised Phil one early Sunday morning with six jumbo-sized muffins. Just a side benefit of waking up full of energy at 4:30am…

Bran Muffin


(adapted from Heidi Swanson’s recipe)

1 cup bran flake cereal
12 ounces full-fat yogurt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup diced walnuts, slightly toasted

Heat the oven to 400, and line 6 cups of a jumbo muffin pan with paper liners or grease them with butter.

In a small bowl, combine the cereal, yogurt and melted butter. Stir together very well, and let the cereal soak while you work with the dry ingredients. Whisk together the flours, wheat germ, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar.

Stir the eggs and honey into the bowl with the bran cereal, then stir in the dry ingredients. Gently add the raisins and walnuts. Divide the batter between the muffin cups and bake for about 22 minutes. Let the muffins cool in the pan for a couple of minutes, then move them to a wire rack to cool completely.


to print the recipe, click here


Comments: Amazing what almost seven years of blogging can do. I knew I had bran muffins on the site, but was shocked to see that this is my sixth recipe for this delicacy. What can I say? They are Phil’s favorite kind and my goal from the start was to bake the bran muffin of his dreams. Did I get there?  The asymptotic curve is getting closer to the top, I am told. The resident critic thought the amount of walnuts and raising raisins were spot on. The size was adequate. The texture got a nod of approval too. So, what’s the improvement needed? More bran. Not bran-y enough. Some people demand “more cowbell“, others demand more bran.  The quest for perfection is still on. But, in a way it’s  nice to have something to strive for…

muffin crumb

I wonder if Christopher Walken would also request a little more bran?


ONE YEAR AGO: A Star is Born!

TWO YEARS AGO: Chestnut Flour Sourdough Bread

THREE YEARS AGO: Kinpira Gobo and Japanese Home Cooking

FOUR YEARS AGO: Walnut Sourdough

FIVE YEARS AGO: Thai Chicken Curry

SIX YEARS AGO: Zen and the art of risotto


I would love to take full credit for coming up with the title of this post, but I can’t.  “A Bran Muffin Stole My Heart” was the title of a blog post by Michelle published almost 3 years ago, and brought to my attention by a friend over on Facebook (thank you, Tracy!). After reading Michelle’s post, I had the intuition that this recipe would be a winner.   For starters, it makes big, very big muffins. Then, it proceeds by crowning each muffin with a  tempting sprinkle of walnuts and sugar, that gets irresistibly crunchy as they bake. I had to make a batch and put it to the test of my resident bran muffin critic-extraordinaire…  😉


(slightly modified from Put in Some Sugar

1 + 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1  + 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup wheat bran
1/4 cup chopped dried apple
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup cranberries
1/4 cup diced walnuts
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk
Raw sugar, for sprinkling
walnut pieces, for sprinkling

Heat your oven to 400 F.  Prepare a muffin pan, with either paper cups or spray.
In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In another small bowl, combine the wheat bran and dried fruits. Add the boiling water and let sit.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until fluffy, then add the sugar and beat until well combined and creamy. Add the honey and mix. Add the egg, mixing well.
Mix in the buttermilk and flour mixture in three additions each, beating each addition until just combined. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl. Mix in the bran mixture.
Scoop the batter into the muffin cups. It should take about 1/2 cup of batter for each muffin if you are using a jumbo muffin pan. For regular muffin pans, use 1/4 cup. Top each muffin with a teaspoon of raw sugar and sprinkle with a teaspoon of chopped walnuts.
Bake 20 minutes or until browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
to print the recipe, click here


These muffins are the ones that got the closest to those from Phil’s past.  I have no doubt that the larger size helped a lot,  so getting the jumbo size muffin pan was a great move by Sally. 

The topping adds a lot to these muffins, but I loved everything about them, from taste to texture.  What can I say? I think I’ve been assimilated.

most interesting

“I don’t always eat breakfast, but when I do, I prefer a bran muffin”.


ONE YEAR AGO: Jammin’ Blueberry Sour Milk Pancakes

TWO YEARS AGOScallops with Black Pasta in Orange Cream Sauce

THREE YEARS AGO: Stir-fried Chicken with Creamed Corn

FOUR YEARS AGO: Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Torpedo


Found it on the 3rd. Baked it on the 5th.  That is how fast I jumped on this recipe once I saw it at Pastry Studio. I’ve mentioned before that one of Phil’s favorite breakfast item is a bran muffin studded with raisins and nuts.  I know that baking the version of his past is akin to finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, so I simply enjoy the path of trying different recipes and getting feedback on how close or far I am from the muffin of his hippie days.

Buttermilk Bran Muffin3

(from Pastry Studio)
Makes 16 muffins

1 cup (8 oz) buttermilk at room temperature
1 cup (2 oz) wheat bran
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (89 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (89 grams) whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (3 oz) canola oil
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup (2 1/4 oz) molasses
2 tablespoons (1 oz) honey
2 eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
zest of 1/2 orange
1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz) raisins, chopped (I kept them whole)
1/2 cup (1 3/4 oz) pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease 16 wells in standard size muffin tins or use paper liners.

Place the buttermilk and bran in a bowl and stir to combine.  Set aside.

Sift both flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Set aside.

In another bowl big enough to hold all the ingredients, whisk the oil, brown sugar, molasses and honey.  Add the eggs and combine thoroughly.  Mix in the vanilla and orange zest.  Add the bran and buttermilk mixture.  Whisk in the flour mixture just until there are no streaks.  Do not over mix.  Fold in the raisins and pecans.

Divide the batter equally in the prepared muffin cups.  Bake until the muffins spring back when pressed gently in the center or a tester inserted comes out clean, about 13 minutes.  Place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.  Use a small thin knife or small metal spatula to remove from the pan.  Cool completely.

(I made half the recipe and that was enough for 7 regular-size muffins)


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  I am not wild about bran muffins, but in the name of food blogging I decided to try a little bite of one.  Surprise!  I enjoyed it so much it became my lunch that Sunday. 😉 Very moist, sweet but not as sweet as I expected for a muffin that contains honey, molasses, AND brown sugar. The molasses taste is the strongest and I think it masks the harshness of wheat bran very well.  My kind of bran muffin.

Did I hit the jackpot with these? I am one step closer, but feedback from the resident former hippie suggests me to triple the raisins, use walnuts instead of pecans, and at least double that amount too. No wonder I have a hard time re-creating the concoction of his past.  Obviously,  it was not a muffin. It was a block of walnuts and raisins with just enough crumb to hold it all together.  And, I must buy a jumbo muffin pan.   So, that will be taken care of soon.  But, the muffin part – the amount of bran and the overall sweetness – were spot on!

Now we move to the surprise part of this post.   I was featured on “Food Writer Friday“, a publication run by Maureen from “The Orgasmic Chef” and Helene from “Masala Herb“.  If you are interested, take a look at the amazing article she wrote by clicking here.  My jaw kept dropping as I read it,  and I developed this permanent smile on my face that lasted for a few days…   The idea that someone on the other side of the planet (literally) would take the time and energy to write such a thoughtful article about someone she doesn’t even know personally,  melts my heart…

When you’ve been blogging for a while, it is hard to know how you come across to your readers, and her article gave me a nice snapshot of it.  Nothing pleased me more than realizing that my relationship with Phil is a big part of it.  The fact that she chose my post on bran muffins to highlight our happiness made me smile, knowing that I had this post already written and scheduled for publication. Isn’t that an amazing coincidence?

Rainbow2(image from Wikimedia Commons)

Maureen, it is hard to express how much I love everything you wrote, and how much energy it gives me to go on with the blog, with my little stories, and my endless search for rainbows, pots of gold, and the perfect bran muffin…   😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Cider-Marinated Pork Kebabs

TWO YEARS AGO: Golden Age Granola

THREE  YEARS AGO: Mushroom Souffle for Two



Bran muffins make Phil very very happy, so I tried a new recipe for his favorite morning treat.  On a whim, I went with the “back of the bag” recipe in the Bob’s Red Mill Wheat Bran product.  I reasoned that they probably tested and re-tested the recipe to make sure whoever baked a batch would love it and buy another bag. 😉  I also thought that using applesauce in the batter would make it moist and flavorful. I was right.
(from Bob’s Red Mill)

1 cup wheat bran
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup raisins
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup milk
1/2 cup molasses (or honey)
3/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (toasted is best)
2 Tbsp. oil
2 eggs, beaten

Heat the oven to 400°F. Combine wheat bran, flour, baking soda and baking powder. Stir in nuts and raisins. In a separate bowl, blend applesauce, milk, molasses, oil and egg. Add to dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Spoon into a muffin pan lined with paper muffin cups) and bake for  20 minutes. Makes 12 regular-size muffins.


to print the recipe, click here


Comments:  Between these bran muffins and the first one I blogged about, I think I prefer this batch because of the prominent apple taste that mellows the “hippie factor” of the wheat bran.  Did I hit the jackpot with them?  And by jackpot I mean bran muffins that match the ones of Phil’s past. Not quite yet there.  However, after almost 13 years of marriage, I finally got a hint on one of the issues: size.  The muffins he loved so much were bigger.  Size does matter after all!  A shocking realization.   But, here is the tricky part, in those days they did not make them gigantic. They were just slightly bigger. So, now I am on a mission to find a pan that will make a muffin somewhere between “regular” and “jumbo”.   As to taste, I am on the right track.  Raisins and walnuts, yes.  But next time, less apple, and honey instead of molasses.

I do not go down without a fight, my friends! One day, I will bake the bran muffin of his dreams…

ONE  YEAR AGO: Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

TWO YEARS AGO: Breville Sourdough



I don’t cook Ina Garten‘s recipes that often because they tend to be way too rich (says she who recently baked a cake with a few hundred calories per bite..  ;-)).   But these muffins have just the right amount of indulgence, well balanced by all their healthy components: unprocessed bran, fruits, and nuts.   I am always happy when I find a good recipe for bran muffins, Phil’s favorite ways to start the day: one of these babies, warmed up slightly in the oven, next to a steaming cup of cappuccino.

(adapted from Ina Garten, FoodTV Network)

1 cup unprocessed wheat bran
1 cup buttermilk (shaken)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 + 1/2 large eggs, at room temperature
3 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 + 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup mixed dried raisins, blueberries, cranberries
1 cup large-diced bananas
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place paper liners into a muffin tin.

Combine the bran and buttermilk and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time. Scrape the bowl and then add the molasses, agave nectar, orange zest, and vanilla. (The mixture will look curdled.) Add the bran/buttermilk mixture and combine.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the batter just until combined.  Fold in the dried fruits, bananas and walnuts with a rubber spatula.

Fill the muffin cups to the top and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Most recipes of this type call for over-ripe bananas, all brown and mushy.  In this recipe, Ina used bananas that were good enough to eat as a fruit, ripe, but not falling apart at all.  I was a bit intrigued, but followed her lead.  Verdict:  not only it works, but it’s probably what makes these muffins quite special, the little morsels of concentrated banana flavor.

Phil gave his seal of approval to the recipe, so all you bran muffin lovers can go ahead and give it a shot.  😉

ONE YEAR AGOBeer Bread with Roasted Barley

TWO YEARS AGO:  Tomato Confit with Arugula and Zucchini

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