Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Muffins for Mella*

As I was reading Mella's post about menu planning, it struck me that a good home-made muffin is the work horse of the single gal's food life. Or, rather, it could be; if one likes muffins and doesn't mind baking.

It's a wonderful "on-the-go" quick breakfast food. A glass of OJ, a slice of honest cheddar, and a bran muffin and you've eaten "the most important meal." It's the proper pick-me-up at 4:00. Eat a properly proportioned muffin and you save money and add to your daily total fiber intake. What could be better? I love muffins. I'd forgotten how much, really. I make muffins every week: but they are strictly for my husband's snacks and lunches. When I'm out of losing mode and in maintaining mode, I'd like to reintroduce muffins back into my diet.

Especially these. They are from Jane Brody's "Good Food Book." It's one of those tomes you buy when you are a single person and realise you don't know anything about food or how to cook it. It has chapters on food like "Wheat and other Grains of Truth" and "Full o' Beans? You Bet" with helpful illustrations identifying various legumes. In the "Helpful Hints" section we have an introduction entitled "Cooking From Scratch Effectively" and for the unititiated, "How to Equip Your Kitchen."

With sub chapters called "Milling, The Rape of the Wheat Berry" you get a sense of the "slant" of this cookbook. Nonetheless, it was my Bible of sorts. It's in rough shape. I have lost the front cover and all publishing and copyright information. It has split in two in a most unfortunate way: the top half of pages 385 to 388 belong to one half of the book and their bottoms to the other. I hold it together with an elastic.

I actually have two favourite bran muffin recipes from this book. One makes the best muffins in the entire world. The other makes more: but you can store the batter in the fridge (though it takes up a lot of room. That wasn't a problem when I was single, but it is now, unfortunately) and bake them as you see fit.

I wish I could make a batch of either for you and post a picture but I don't make these anymore for chiefly four reasons.
1. My husband does not like raisins. They are part of what make these so good.
2. I don't like dealing with molasses.
3. These are quite moist and wonderful. The husband prefers his muffins dry.
4. See the above storage problem.

Nonetheless, I offer these with my best wishes for healthy nourishment.

Best-Of-Bran Muffins
This recipe makes 24.

3 cups shredded Bran cereal. (e.g., All Bran, 100% Bran, etc.)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup raisins
1 cup boiling water
2 eggs, lightly beaten.
2 cups buttermilk**
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
4 teaspoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt, if desired.

1. In a large bowl, combine cereal, egg, oil and raisins, and pour the boiling water over them. Set the mixture aside to cool slightly.

2. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, the buttermilk, and molasses. Add this to the partly cooled cereal mixture.

3. In another small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the cereal mixture, stirring just enough to moisten the dry ingredients. Cover the batter with plastic wrap, wax paper, or a damp towel and let stand for 15 minutes, preferably for 1 hour.

4. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease 24 muffin cups and divide the batter among them, filling each cup about 3/4s full. Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the muffins from the oven, and, when they are slightly cooled, take them out of the tin and place them on a rack to cool completely.

Refrigerator Bran Muffins

This batter will keep for three weeks , tightly covered, in the fridge. This recipe makes enough batter for about 3 dozen muffins, but if you have the refrigerator space, Brody advises, "you could easily increase it."

3 cups whole-bran cereal (e.g., All-Bran or Bran Buds.)
1 cup boiling water
2 cups buttermilk**
1/2 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour, preferably stone ground
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt, if desired
1/2 cup raisins or other chopped dried fruit (optional). (Note: I have used chopped dried apricots.)

1. In a medium bowl, soak the cereal in the boiling water. Set the cereal aside to cool, and then stir in the buttermilk.

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter or margarine and the sugar until they are well blended. Beat in the eggs, and then mix in the bran-buttermilk mixture.

3. Sift or stir together the all purpose and the whole wheat flours, baking soda, and salt. Add this mixture to the bran mixture, stirring the ingredients just enough to combine them. Add the raisins or other dried fruit if desired.

4. Either refrigerate the batter in a tightly closed container for later use, or divide it among 36 well greased small muffin cups, about 2 1/2 x 1 1/4 inches, or 24 large muffin cups, filling each cup about 2/3rds full.

5. Bake the muffins in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15 to 18 minutes. Remove them to a rack to cool down to warm (they are best when eaten that way).

** prepare buttermilk by mixing 1 cup of skim milk (it must be skim or non-fat. I make this with 1/3 cup skim milk powder and 1 cup water) with 2 Tablespoons of white vinegar. Let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes before using.

*actually, these are muffins for everyone. And I don't even know if Mella likes muffins. But, I do like alliteration.


drwende said...

Muffins for Mella would be a wonderful title for a children's book, wouldn't it? Or possibly the sort of slender trade paperback where the muffins prove to be an important metaphor for The Meaning of It All...

Muffins are certainly one of my standbys during the winter, and I've been almost tempted to suffer the oven being on to make some again.

Mella DP said...

I do like muffins, actually, so the best muffins in the world must be quite good indeed. Thanks for these. You've also reminded me that I have a lost significant muffin recipe to look up, too...

Word verification: moven

An oven used for muffin-making?

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