Apple Bran Muffins

If you’ve never had a bran muffin, you don’t know what you’re missing! I know, bran sounds terrible. What, a healthy muffin!? Gross…But, really, they’re not. Back when I was a junk food addict, I loved bran muffins. They’re soft and nutty…delicious! And with the addition of loads of sweet apple, mine are even better 🙂


THE RECIPE


Apple Bran Muffins

(Makes about 24 muffins)

Don’t forget to check out my Tips, Tricks, and Substitutions at the bottom of the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or regular whole wheat flour)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup safflower oil (or any other neutral vegetable oil)
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 crisp, lunchbox apples, peeled and chopped about 1/4 – 1/2″ dice
  • 1 crisp, lunchbox apple, to grate
  • 1/2 cup wheat bran

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease two standard 12-cup muffin tins (I find these muffins, for whatever obnoxious reason, get stuck to paper liners).
  2. Put the chopped apple into a saute pan and sprinkle a little water over (just a teaspoon or so). Cook on medium heat, occasionally stirring the apples, until soft. When finished, set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat together milk, oil, honey, eggs, and sugar.
  5. Gently whisk the liquid mixture into the flour mixture (being careful not to overmix).
  6. Stir in the wheat bran until well-combined.
  7. Peel and grate your third apple.
  8. Stir the cooked apples and grated apple into the batter until well-distributed.
  9. Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan (on a cooling rack) before removing.

Tips, Tricks, and Substitutions

I always recommend following a recipe the way it’s written before making any changes; your substitutions will work out much better if you know what the food tastes like in its original form and can make educated substitutions. With that, here are my tips, tricks, and substitutions for this recipe:

Whole Wheat Pastry Flour: I use pastry flour because Ellie Krieger does (she says it’s softer). If you can’t find it, plain whole wheat flour is fine. If you can’t stand any whole wheat flour, substitute with unbleached, white all-purpose. I think whole wheat is unappealing at first, but with each bite, you get more and more used to it and it becomes appealing! After my first muffin, I was addicted. Considering it’s more nutritious, why wouldn’t I try to learn to like it?

Milk: I use whole dairy products, always. But you can use whatever milk product you regularly use at home, be it skim milk, soy milk, almond milk. As long as it tastes good, it should work. You could even try substituting with apple cider for even more apple flavor. Don’t forget you don’t have to follow a recipe perfectly; make it my way to see how you like it and, later, make it your own!

Safflower Oil: As with most recipes, feel free to substitute something like applesauce, mashed bananas, yogurt, etc.

Honey: You can try agave nectar, pure maple syrup, whatever your liquid sweetener preference is. Just remember that some are sweeter than others.

Apples: I use Ambrosia apples, which are sweet, or Granny Smith, which are tart. Experiment with different flavored apples to find out which you like best. Just remember it should be a “baking” apple, i.e. something crisp, not soft.

Mixing Wet Ingredients: I like to mix my wet ingredients all together in a liquid measuring cup. Why dirty it to measure milk and oil, and then dirty another bowl to mix them together with eggs, sugar, etc? Here’s how:

I have a 4-cup measure. For this recipe, I’d first measure 1 1/2 cups milk, add oil until the liquid hits the 2 cup line (meaning I just added a half cup of oil), add honey until it hits the 2 1/4 cup line. Then I’d add the eggs and lightly beat them in the milk/oil/honey until incorporated. Then I’d measure my sugar with a dry measuring cup, add it to the rest of the liquid, and whisk again to combine. That’s it! Then you just pour into the dry ingredients straight from that measuring cup and you’ve just saved yourself an extra bowl to clean. As long as your liquid measuring cup is big enough, use it to your advantage with this recipe and others!

Whisking Liquid into Dry: You don’t want to overmix the batter or it’ll start to get tough. So whisk gently just to wet all the dry ingredients, then give a few broad strokes to get those lumps!

Baking: I sometimes find that a recipe will claim to make a certain amount of muffins, but it actually makes more or less. I guess it depends on your particular muffin tin and how much you fill it! So here are a couple tips for variances in baking.

  1. Invest in a mid-sized ice cream scoop with a release handle. It makes filling muffin cups faster, easier, cleaner, and every cup will have the same amount of batter every single time!
  2. If you find that you have some empty muffin tins, fill them half way with water. This will keep the grease (that you used to prepare the tins) from burning in the oven and stinking everything up/discoloring your pans. Just be careful not to get any water on the batter or muffins when you move the pan 🙂
  3. If you want to use a different sized tin, just alter the baking time! Mini muffins won’t take as long, so check them 5-10 minutes earlier. Jumbo muffins will take longer, so check them 5-10 minutes later (and for as long as you need). Usually you can tell something is just about finished when its scent really starts to fill the room, so that’s your first clue to check for doneness.

Eating: Consider cinnamon butter, yum! And to reheat later, place the muffin in the oven at 350 degrees, until warm. Consider slicing it in half, buttering it, and laying it (buttered side up) under the broiler 🙂 You can even do this straight from the freezer! Just keep it in the oven a little longer.

Happy baking! 🙂

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