Sunday, January 8, 2012

Molasses Bran Muffins

Greetings 2012!

Although I really don't place any real significance on January 1st as compared to any other day of the year, as a fervently type-A person and lover of rituals and lists, I can't help but indulge in a bit of the ritual of New Year's Eve/New Year's Day. I believe that you should make changes any time that you want to better yourself, but despite all rationality, there is some appeal to the clean slate of New Year's Day. For that reason, I put up some thought both into what I would prepare for a decadent New Year's Eve dinner, as well as to the first thing I would eat in the New Year. So in the quiet early morning hours of January 1st, I made myself a maple latte and got to work on a batch of these molasses bran muffins. They represent much of what I want to accomplish in my cooking-they're healthy but still delicious and something that makes me look forward to getting up in the morning. The plethora of whole grains creates a hearty background which allows rich walnuts and plump and juicy raisins to shine, with just enough sweetness from the natural sweetener of your choice.

If you're used to the super-sweet muffins that seem to clog the supermarket (basically cupcakes without the frosting), this will be a big adjustment, but one that you may choose to make in the new year (you may want to start with only part whole wheat flour as you try and adjust your flavor palate). Whereas while flour forms bulk and white sugar sweetens without adding any flavor, here both the flour and sweetener are integral components of the character of these muffins. While nothing quite compares to fresh out of the oven, I froze extras for satisfying breakfasts throughout the week. I both eat to live and live to eat, and these muffins satisfy my craving for flavor and need for nutrition beautifully.

Molasses Bran Muffins
adapted from Bob's Red Mill
makes 12 regular (or 6 jumbo) muffins

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (whole wheat pastry flour will make a lighter muffin)
1 cup wheat or oat bran
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup applesauce
1 cup milk
1/2 cup molasses, honey, or maple syrup (or a combination)
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons canola oil

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, combine wheat bran, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir in nuts and raisins. 

2. In a separate bowl, blend applesauce, milk, molasses, oil and eggs. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Spoon into 12 standard greased muffin tins (or paper muffin cups) and bake for 15-20 minutes. If making jumbo muffins, increase cooking time by 10 to 15 minutes.

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