Do you drive through the local coffee shop four or five times a week and pick up a doughnut and beverage without a second thought? When they stopped selling the blueberry bran muffin that I absolutely adored I had to re-evaluate spending those dollars for something that I only half enjoyed. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not above a pick-me-up on the way to work now and again, but more often than not I individually wrap and freeze a batch of muffins that are exactly what I want for a grab-and-go kind of day.
Blueberry Banana Bran Muffins
I can’t buy them anymore but I sure as heck can make them. These are scrumptious, tender and packed full of flavour, with enough bran to claim a bit of extra fibre in your diet.
These are equally good with blueberries or partridgeberries, whichever you have in your freezer. I made them once with bakeapples but that was a mistake. I’m sure raspberries would be great, though.
I have an older recipe using applesauce but mashed bananas lend so much more flavor this has become my go-to version.
These stick to the pan, even if you’ve greased it liberally, so I suggest paper cups, and I still coat them with non-stick cooking spray.
If you don’t have buttermilk on hand put 1 tbsp. of lemon juice in the measuring cup and fill to 1-1/4 cups with milk. Let sit for a few minutes to thicken.
This batch makes exactly 24 medium-sized or 12 large muffins. Bake large ones for about 30 minutes but start checking at 25.
1-1/2 cups soft wheat bran
1-1/4 cups buttermilk or soured milk
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. allspice, optional
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup firmly-packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ tsp. vanilla
1 to 1-1/4 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) partridgeberries or blueberries
Mix bran and buttermilk and set aside to soak for 15 minutes.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and allspice; set aside.
Whisk together bananas, brown sugar, oil, egg and vanilla. Add bran and buttermilk mixture and stir all at once into dry ingredients. Mix until there are no big streaks of white flour but don't overmix or the muffins will be tough.
Gently stir in berries and spoon into 24 paper-lined and well-greased muffin cups—they should be nearly full because these don’t puff up much. Bake at 400 degrees F 18 minutes or until a toothpick in the middle comes out clean. If you threw in a few extra berries, which I always do, they might take a couple of minutes longer. Cool 10 minutes in the pan then lift them out onto a rack to cool completely (or eat them warm, of course.)
Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf
This homemade version of a coffee shop favourite is worth the baking time. The bought one is more cake-like and fluffy, while this recipe produces a denser, intensely flavourful true loaf.
The list of ingredients is long but the instructions are simple and it comes together quickly. The aroma emanating from your kitchen will have the neighbours banging on the door.
The glaze adds a perfect sweet-and-sour note so don’t leave it out.
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup poppy seeds
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
¼ cup melted butter or margarine
¼ cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup granulated sugar
½ cup plain Greek-style or thick yogurt
1/4 cup whole or 2 per cent milk, not skim
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 cups icing sugar
Whisk together flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Beat on lowest speed or whisk by hand, melted butter, oil, eggs, sugar, yogurt, milk, lemon juice and vanilla. Add all at once to dry ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in lemon zest.
Spoon into a greased 5 by 9-inch loaf pan and smooth the top. The batter is quite thick. Bake at 375 degrees F 45 minutes or until a toothpick in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature on a rack.
For the glaze, whisk together lemon juice and icing sugar. Add a little more juice if mixture is too stiff — you want a slow pour so it runs gently down the sides of the loaf. It’s ready to slice as soon as the glaze sets.
Cynthia Stone is an information manager and writer in St. John’s. E-mail questions to her at email@example.com.