Healthy Muffins That Actually Taste Good

Photo: Courtesy of Food52.
One of my husband's favorite breakfast foods is a bran muffin. He had been buying them at the grocery store (ick). So, I set out to make a bran muffin he would really like. I tried a bunch of recipes, but couldn't really capture the sweet, moist character of a mass-produced muffin (even though mine tasted better and were certainly healthier). I found a recipe in Cook's Illustrated called Better Bran muffins (May 2007) and made those with some variations. While I still use its not-so-secret — All-Bran cereal — I've modified the recipe to make it my own. My husband adores these muffins, so now I'm making them nearly every week. They are delicious — and they freeze well.
What I Do For Love Bran Muffins
Makes 12
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted
2 cups All-Bran cereal
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
2 tbsp wheat germ
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch ground clove
1 tbsp Dutch process cocoa powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup raisins or sultanas, plumped in microwave (30 seconds) with 1/4 cup of orange juice
2 large eggs
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tbsp molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups plain yogurt (don't use Greek yogurt or the muffins will be too dense)
1 tsp orange zest
1. Melt butter and allow it to cool.
2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Toast pumpkin seeds on cookie sheet while oven is heating, removing them when they are lightly toasted and beginning to puff a little.
3. Line muffin pan with paper liners.
4. Process 1 cup of All-Bran cereal in food processor until finely ground, about a minute.
5. In large bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, clove, cocoa powder, and wheat germ. Set aside.
6. In medium bowl (see what I mean?), whisk eggs till blended. Add brown sugar, molasses, vanilla, and orange zest. Whisk till mixture is thick, about 30 seconds. Add melted butter. Whisk to combine. Add yogurt. Whisk to combine. Stir in processed cereal and 1 cup of unprocessed cereal. Let mixture sit until entirely moist — about 5 minutes.
7. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and gently fold with rubber spatula until batter is combined and evenly moistened. Stir in raisins and juice if using.
8. Using a 1/3 cup measure, drop batter into muffin cups, forming soft mounds. Don't level surface. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds over the tops of the muffins.
9. Bake 16-20 minutes, until muffins are dark golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached.

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