Friday, 10 February 2012

Sour Cream Raisin Bran Muffins

What's the first thing that you think of when I say the words "Bran Muffin".  Be honest.  You think of some dry, tasteless muffin your Great Aunt Gertrude likes to eat, right?  A baked good that can barely call itself a 'muffin' since it doesn't have any chocolate chips or fancy crumble on top? 

Honestly?  I think bran muffins have gotten a bad rap.  Yes, they're high in fibre.  Yes, they're good for you.  And no, they're not exciting or overly attractive (I've never heard people exclaim "Now THAT'S a really gorgeous looking bran muffin!").  But we're going to be above judging a baked good solely on it's good looks.  We're bigger than that, people!  We're going to base our decision on whether a bran muffin is worthy enough to touch our lips based on taste (and we'll try to make them as pretty and appealing as possible to get our little minions to eat them).

One of the main benefits of the mighty bran muffin is the fact that it packs a wallop in the fibre department.  That extra fibre helps to maintain intestinal health so your body can absorb all the good nutrients that you eat.  It's also packed with omegas, vitamins and protein.  Point?  Bran = good for you. 

I figured that if we're upping our fibre intake we might as well give it all we got!  Let's throw caution to the wind and add some ground flax seed too!  I've jumped onto the flax seed bandwagon wholeheartedly!  At first it was impossible for me to find a peanut-free option but once a friend of mine found a Canadian producer of flax that is not produced alongside any peanuts I was basking in the glow of the golden flax seed.  For those of you who also have loved ones with a peanut allergy, or you just want some truly amazing flax seed, check out www.canadiangoldenflaxseed.com and tell them The Baking Bookworm sent ya!

Ok, so we have bran and flax seed.  Not overly exciting yet but stay with me!!  What goes well with bran?  Raisins!  Unfortunately, one of my kids has a hate on for Nature's Candy.  When I refer to raisins as Nature's Candy his eyes get all squinty and he just says "Those are not candy".  I think the reason he has a hate on for raisins is because I don't use raisins very often so they quickly become these dry, hard to chew little nasties.  Not a great selling feature. 

In this recipe I vowed to give raisins some better street cred amongst my little peeps by giving them a nice hot bath while I got the batter ready.  Who among us doesn't feel invigorated after a nice hot bath or shower?  Raisins are no different!  Once these little guys soak in a hot bath they are no longer dry and gross.  They go in looking like something a bunny may have left behind and come out totally transformed into plump beauties and add a wonderful sweetness and flavour to the muffins.

One tip I will give you for these muffins is to not use bran cereal. Those muffins never really look right to me and you often have to soak the bran in a milky mixture to get rid of the flake texture.  Natural bran (it should be near the oats in your food store) is substantially cheaper and has a much finer texture which, I think, gives the muffin a nice look.  Bran has enough of a complex.  Let's do all we can to make it look pretty!

If you also have a love for bran muffins stand with me!!  Let's put bran muffins back on the map of tasty baked goods!!  This is honestly the best Raisin Bran muffin that I've ever had.  They have a wonderful flavour, they're moist and have a great texture.   The fact that they're also good for me just makes me feel that much better about schnorffing one down with my morning java .... every day this week.  Enjoy!

Sour Cream Raisin Bran Muffins

Yield: 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg, beaten lightly
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup dark molasses
2 tbsp ground flax seed
1 cup (minus 2 tbsp) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup natural bran

Preheat oven to 400F.  Line a muffin tin with paper liners or lightly grease.  Set aside.

Pour water into a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and add raisins.  Cook for 5 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in the large bowl of a stand mixer (or you can do it by hand) cream together the butter and brown sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg, sour cream and molasses.

Your raisins should be nice and plump by now.  They may even look a little pale -- that's ok!).  Drain them and pour cold water over them. Set aside.

Pour ground flax seed into a 1-cup measuring cup.  Pour flour into the same cup - enough to measure 1 cup.  Pour flax/flour mixture into a medium bowl.  Add baking soda, salt and bran.  Mix well.

Add the bran mixture to the butter mixture and gently stir until just combined.  Drain raisins well and gently fold into the batter.

Spoon batter into the prepared muffin tin and bake for 15-20 minutes or until they are golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Place muffins onto a rack until complete cool.  Store in an airtight container or freeze.

Tip:  Try to grind flax seed as needed. Store excess ground flax seed in an air-tight container in your fridge.  Use within 1-2 weeks in order to get the maximum amount of nutrients.

Inspired by: Epicurious.com's Sour Cream Bran Muffins 


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