Those Muffins

Sorry it took so long, but here are the muffins discussed at some length back on February 4th.


Honesty compels me to admit the low-fat version was an accident ( I was melting the butter on the woodstove in another room, and you know what they say about “out of sight…”). But it turns out these muffins are very tasty – maybe even tastier – when the only butter you use is used to grease the cups. Just be warned that that’s tasty, not tender; texture is definitely better when you put the butter in. And muffins made with no added fat get stale a lot faster.

For 12 muffins:

1 cup wheat bran
1 1/3 cups whole milk yogurt
¼ cup butter (optional, see above), plus butter for the pan(s)
1 ¾ cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 ½ tsp. fresh* baking powder
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp salt, or a bit more if it’s unsalted butter
2 extra-large eggs
¼ cup lightly piled* brown sugar
¼ cup molasses
3 tbl. wheat germ
¾ cup light or dark raisins or diced dried apricots or any combination thereof.

1. Set oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, mix the bran with about half the yogurt. Set aside. In another small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

3. Melt the butter if using. Heavily butter a dozen* 1/3-cup muffin cups.

4. Use the whisk to lightly beat the eggs, then beat in the remaining yogurt, brown sugar, molasses, wheat germ and reserved bran mixture.

5. Switch to a large mixing spoon and quickly stir in the fruit lumps, then the flour mixture. Distribute among the prepared muffin cups, filling them 3/4 to 4/5 full (these don’t rise all that much). Bake until well browned and dry-toothpick producing, about 20 minutes. Cool briefly in the pan before turning out onto a rack or into the breadbasket.

* Fresh Baking Powder: Unless you’re really big for biscuits or belong to Cornbread Nation, it’s quite likely your can of baking powder has been around long enough to lose lifting power. If you have reason to suspect staleness, dissolve a teaspoon or so in a half cup of hot water and watch for vigorous fizzing. Medium fizzing is ok – just use 2 teaspoons. But languid bubbles or none at all mean it’s time for a new can.

*Measuring Brown Sugar: Because brown sugars vary so much in comparative loft, the famous instruction “tightly packed” helps ensure accuracy when you’re measuring by volume. But I can’t bring myself to call for “2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons tightly packed brown sugar,” which is about the amount you want. (In theory, tight packing also smooths lumps. In theory. )

* Muffin Cups: Hold quite different amounts, so it pays to measure. It also pays to use two 6-cup pans instead of one that holds a dozen. The 2 in the middle of a 12 cupper don’t get as much heat as those on the outside, so they tend to rise less and cook less quickly.

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