Sunday, March 4, 2012

Raisin-Bran Muffins

Kristin and I were talking about family recipes yesterday.  I mentioned that I was glad her family recipes were good ones - and they are!  When somebody has a long-standing family recipe that's not all that good, it's a tough situation.  This seems to happen especially with baking.  There have been times where I've tried banana bread or cookies from someone's long-standing family recipe, but the finished product is just mediocre.  Thankfully, Kristin's family doesn't have this issue (nor, I daresay, does mine!).

These muffins are a family recipe from Kristin's grandmother, and they're mighty tasty.  They're a little lighter and sweeter than a typical bran muffin, but still far from the overbearing sweetness of some muffins that seem to just be cupcakes in disguise (Cupcakes in Disguise, by the way, is a major motion picture collaboration between Michael Bay and Paula Dean coming out next summer).  They're easy, they're tasty, and that's all one can ask when it comes to muffins.

The ingredients are more or less what you would expect, when it comes to muffins.  Flour, sugar, eggs, oil, baking soda, and salt form the basics.  Raisin bran gives the muffins their name.  Finally, that large bowl is filled with buttermilk of my own creation - you can buy it from the store, but it's so easy to make your own.

For each cup of buttermilk you need, use just shy of a cup of milk, and add one tablespoon of lemon juice.  Give it a stir and wait 15 or 20 minutes and you've got buttermilk in exactly the quantity you need.

First, combine the buttermilk, cereal, oil, sugar, and eggs in a large mixing bowl.  Use the largest bowl you've got - this recipe makes a lot of muffins.  My biggest bowl was near to overflowing by the end.

Next, create an exciting bowl full of nondescript white powder - combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in another mixing bowl.

Slowly and carefully add the dry ingredients to the wet.  I did this in three or four portions, mixing well between each addition of the dry stuff.  This more or less minimized the mess and ensured that the batter is actually mixed.

Important: Cover the mixed batter and rest in the refrigerator at least 6 hours before baking.  The raisin bran and other starches need some time to absorb all of the liquid.  An overnight rest works great, too, and will leave you ready to bake your breakfast first thing in the morning.

When the batter has rested at least 6 hours, pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Apportion the batter into lined muffin tins about two-thirds of the way full.

Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes, making sure to check after 15.  Ours are generally just about there after 15 minutes, and after 16 or 17 have the perfect amount of color.  Take care not to overbake, or you'll have dry, sad muffins.  Sad muffins are a crime.

These are fantastic while still warm from the oven, so if you can, try one right away.  You know, for science.  Enjoy!

Recipe: Raisin-Bran Muffins
Prep Time: 6 hours 15 minutes | Cook Time: 15-20 Minutes | Difficulty: Easy | Servings: 4 dozen muffins

  • 1 box (15 oz) Raisin Bran cereal
  • 1 quart Buttermilk
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 1/2 cups White Sugar
  • 5 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 4 Eggs, lightly beaten
  • 5 tsp Baking Soda
  • 2 tsp Salt
  1. If needed, make buttermilk from 3 3/4 cups milk and 1/4 cup lemon juice, stirring and resting 20 minutes.
  2. Combine cereal, buttermilk, oil, sugar, and eggs in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a second mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients slowly, in 3-4 portions, mixing well after each addition.
  5. Cover and rest batter at least 6 hours in the refrigerator.
  6. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  Fill lined muffin tins 2/3 full with batter.
  7. Bake 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees, checking after 15 minutes.
  8. Serve warm.

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