These bran muffins are one of my favorite breakfasts – slash morning snack, slash muffins all day, e’ryday. They’re very tender, but they also have good chewy texture, and they’re pleasantly whole-grainy without being dense/boring/dry. The muffins themselves are lightly sweet, and the raisins add an extra little burst (oh, they’re optional, haters). The fiber makes them hearty and filling, and they freeze well! Plus, there’s a secret ingredient!!
My mom made these bran muffins when I was a growing up, and I started making them in college and keeping a stash in the freezer. Because what cool college kid doesn’t keep a supply of wheat bran around? Ahem. Once you have the ingredients, it’s a quick, uncomplicated recipe – I’ve made them so often I have it memorized! (Wow, ALL the cool points today.)
So: you need unprocessed wheat bran. You can buy it from the bulk bins at a health food store like Whole Foods, and a regular grocery store will often have a packaged kind (I’ve used Hodgson Mill and Bob’s Red Mill before). Wheat bran adds a nice fiber boost (each muffin has nearly 5 grams of fiber), and is super nutritious, too!
The bran cereal (aka, the little twigs in the picture above) adds the best chewiness to an otherwise tender muffin! I like to use a big measuring cup to measure the buttermilk and oil, and then whisk the eggs into the liquid before adding it all to the dry ingredients.
As for the secret ingredient – it’s orange juice! I discovered it completely by accident a few years ago – I was making a buttermilk substitute with lemon juice, buuut I didn’t have any lemon juice. I had orange juice, though, so I figured what the heck, and used that instead. And the muffins came out noticeably better than usual! I felt a little silly and superstitious, but started making them that way. THEN I was browsing through my King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking cookbook and discovered that they use orange juice in some of their whole wheat recipes, because something in the flavor of orange juice tames something in wheat to make it less assertively wheaty. So it’s, like, science! See the recipe notes for info on including a secret OJ shot to make your muffins extra awesome!
The bran muffins bake for a quick 15-20 minutes, and I love how they get those lovely, lightly browned, craggy domes. They’re perfectly good on their own, and would make a great balanced breakfast with an egg and some fruit…but I personally like to eat them two at a time. With butter.Print
- 2.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose, see note 1)
- 2 cups unprocessed wheat bran
- 2 cups bran cereal (such as All Bran, Bran Buds, or Trader Joe’s High Fiber Cereal)
- 1 cup sugar
- 2.5 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup raisins (optional)
- 2 cups buttermilk (for substitutions, see note 2) + 2 Tablespoons orange juice (optional, see note 3)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- Preheat oven to 400 and add paper liners to 2 12-cup muffin tins (or grease/spray/whatever).
- Mix flour, wheat bran, bran cereal, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Add the raisins and stir so they are lightly coated with the flour mixture.
- In a large glass measuring up (the one I use is 4 cups), measure the buttermilk, then add 1/2 cup oil so it reaches 2.5 cups. Add eggs and whisk liquid ingredients to combine.
- Add liquid ingredients to flour mixture and stir gently with a spatula or large spoon until fully combined (it’s okay to have a couple of slightly floury streaks left to avoid overmixing).
- Scoop batter into prepared muffin tins. The cups will be fairly full! Bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean. For best results, remove the muffins from the tins after a few minutes and let them cool on a wire rack.
Note 1: I recently started keeping whole wheat pastry flour around and it’s a great whole grain substitute in this recipe, which originally called for all-purpose flour. I haven’t tried my “regular” white whole wheat flour in this recipe, since I was afraid it would make them too dense with all the other wheaty ingredients.
Note 2: For an easy buttermilk substitute, you can use 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice – or orange juice! – plus milk to make 2 cups. I have also used 1.5 cups of plain yogurt plus milk to make 2 cups.
Note 3: The orange juice is totally optional. You can use it to replace some of the buttermilk (or to make an even-less-authentic buttermilk sub, as I mentioned in the post and above). I’ve also forgotten to use it and added it as extra liquid and it doesn’t hurt the recipe at all. Basically, there’s no right or wrong way to add it if you’d like to! According to the experts at King Arthur Flour, OJ makes whole wheat taste less bitter.
Note 4: You could certainly halve the recipe to make 12 muffins, but I LOVE popping the extras into a freezer bag and then thawing them overnight or in the microwave for a super easy breakfast or snack.
I adapted this recipe from my mom, who got it from her friend Mary – who may be reading this post! :o)