Buttermilk Bran Muffins

Buttermilk Bran Muffins

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I was planning on making carrot oatmeal muffins tonight, since I’ve run out of breakfast muffins, but then I was poking around in the Epicurious iPad app today and saw a buttermilk bran muffin recipe that looked like it was worth a try. When I got home, I asked Nathaniel which one I should try, and he said “bran muffins” with no hesitation. I had all the ingredients already, including unprocessed wheat bran, admittedly an odd thing to have handy without notice. I’ve come a long way from keeping nothing but coffee, milk, and mustard in my kitchen.

I read the reviews before I started, and knew that there was some basic goodness here but it would need some help. I figured I’d swap out most of the white sugar for brown, add some extra vanilla, and include these:

cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves

(That’s nutmeg on the top.)

I started with a cup of the aforementioned unprocessed wheat bran.

wheat bran

I whisked it together with whole wheat white flour (instead of a mixture of all purpose and whole wheat), baking soda, salt, then added two heaping teaspoons of cinnamon, half a teaspoon of nutmeg, and and an eighth of a teaspoon of ground cloves.

dry ingredients


I put that aside and moved to the stand mixer. All the remaining ingredients went into a new bowl: low fat buttermilk, sugars (mostly brown, topped off with a little white), applesauce, an egg, vanilla, and canola oil. And it should be said that this is the very first recipe I’ve ever encountered that required me to use my half tablespoon. I’ve used it when improvising, but I needed one and a half tablespoons of canola oil so now it’s official. I’m not sure why it’s so significant, except that it justifies my purchase of a second set of measuring spoons. Guilt, alleviated.

All in!

rest of the ingredients

The directions said to beat with a mixer until frothy, so I did my best to froth it up.

wet ingredients


It was still really just liquid, so I decided that lots of bubbles = frothy, hoped for the best, and moved on.

I made a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, poured in everything from the second bowl and mixed just until combined. It said to use a spoon, but I used a spatula.

all mixed

I spooned it into the muffin cups, delighted with the texture. It was just so light and fluffy. Thinking it might need just a little more zing, I added five cinnamon chips to the top of each one, just like I do with banana muffins.

batter with cinnamon chips on top

I had preheated the oven to 375, then reduced it to 350 and put them in. (By the way, there’s a funny article on FOOD52 about how George Carlin hated the term “preheated”. We’re not PRE-heating, we’re HEATING. I have to agree. So really, I heated the oven to 375, then reduced it.) They were done (tops springing back, toothpick clean) in 17 minutes.

muffins done

Except for the runt of the litter in the top right corner up there, they puffed up nicely! I cooled them for ten minutes, then took them out of the pan.

buttermilk bran muffins

Not bad, right?

I ate the little one, to taste test. I have to say, I think it’s the lightest, fluffiest bran muffin I’ve ever eaten. The spices were very much needed, the cinnamon chips added just the right touch of sweetness, and the texture was just delightful. It does have that bran muffin taste, which I actually like, and I think the next time I’ll add even more spices. But no complaints! These are perfect for breakfast, or for a good-for-you mid-afternoon snack. They’re not sweet treats like the carrot oatmeal muffins, but they’re wholesome and light and make a for a nice change of pace.


My version of Buttermilk Bran Muffins (adapted from Epicurious)

1 cup unprocessed (miller’s) wheat bran
1 1/3 cup whole wheat white flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 heaping teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/4 cups low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup sugar, made up of mostly brown and a little white
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 large egg
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
cinnamon chips (5 per muffin)


Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375°.

Lightly spray twelve nonstick muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.

In a medium bowl, whisk the bran, flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves until well combined. Set aside.

In another medium bowl, using a stand mixer (or handheld electric mixer) set at meduim/high speed, beat the buttermilk, sugar, applesauce, egg, oil and vanilla until frothy. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in the buttermilk mixture. Using a spoon, stir just until combined. Do not overmix.

Divide the batter equally among the prepared muffin cups. Add 5 cinnamon chips to the top of each one.

Put the tray in the oven and reduce temperature to 350°. Bake until the tops spring back when pressed gently in the center, about 17 minutes. Do not overbake.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from the tray. Serve warm or cool completely on the rack.


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