Juliet is a dear buddy from Oberlin College. Freshman year our dorm rooms were right next to each other. What luck. Supposedly on our first day ever at college, J’s dad saw me unpacking my room with my parents. He told her that there was a girl next door with a nice smile and that we should be friends. We have been ever since. (I love that story.) It’s been some years since college ended but J and the girls I met there have remained some of my most dear friends on the planet. Oberlin was good to me.
Anyway, Juliet’s husband Elliott is a gem too. Of course he is. And a funny one at that. This weekend he
turns 40 and in lieu of the standard birthday gifts he’s asked that we think of
ways to highlight his impending decrepitude. Gus and I were playing with a few
ideas. I thought an elevated toilet seat would make a good joke. Maybe a
walking stick? But we wondered, after a two second chuckle what the heck they were
actually going to do with that stuff? So I started to think edible...
Hello bran. I definitely associate colon health with the older set. But, let’s be honest and acknowledge that we could all use a little more fiber in our lives. Fiber aside, a hearty bran muffin hits the spot. It’s a dense, serious muffin. It should wear glasses. Bran muffins lecture chocolate chip muffins about their cholesterol.
I should tell you though. These bran muffins aren’t especially healthy. I balanced out all of that good-for-you bran and whole-wheat flour with plenty of molasses and dark brown sugar. It was Elliott’s birthday after all. Molasses with a side of bran? You got it.
Old Man Bran Muffins
I start the temperature on 450° to give the muffins a blast of heat and help them pop up with a nice little dome. I threw in some candied ginger and golden raisins because I had them lying around. Feel free to substitute some other tasty flavorings like orange zest, cranberries, or nuts.
1 cup wheat bran
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
½ cup molasses
½ cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
¾ cup buttermilk
¼ cup chopped candied ginger
¼ cup golden raisins
1. Preheat oven to 350° and line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Spread bran evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until fragrant and toasty, about 8 minutes. Remove bran from the oven and increase heat to 450°.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together toasted bran, all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together dark brown sugar, molasses, vegetable oil, and eggs. Stir in buttermilk, ginger, and raisins.
3. Gently stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until everything is evenly moistened. Don’t over do it.
4. Divide the batter evenly between prepared cups. Transfer
to oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 350°. Bake until the tops are
nice and puffed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist
crumbs, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffins to a rack to cool completely.