Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Icebox Bran Muffins

My mom got this recipe back in the early 70's.  You can find all kinds of variations of it online.  I keep coming back to this one (probably because it's what I expect of a bran muffin - moist, dense, delicious).  The recipe calls for two different bran cereals: bran flakes and 100% bran.  These days the 100% bran cereal I use is Kellogg's Original All-Bran.  This is NOT the same as the original Fiber One cereal.  When it comes to the flakes, I buy what's cheapest.  This time I used the Kroger brand, which are 40% bran, I think.

And since this recipe originates in the 70's it calls for shortening.  Some people balk at using shortening these days.  For the most part, I don't.  Probably because I don't use it very often, so I don't feel like I'm constantly clogging my arteries with horrible trans fats.  Plus all that bran probably scrubs it right out.  If you do the math, it boils down to 1 teaspoon of shortening per muffin.  If that's just too much for you, you can sub the shortening for a stick of softened butter + 1/2 cup of applesauce.  However, if you make this substitution, I can't vouch for it's moistness (since I never do it myself) and your batter will have a shorter shelf life: one month vs. seven weeks.

Which brings me to the beauty of this recipe.  It makes enough batter for 4 dozen muffins.  You can bake them all at once, or store some of the batter in the fridge for the next time you get a craving.  The recipe will divide perfectly into four, 1 quart jars.  Each jar makes a dozen muffins.  I think it makes a great neighbor gift for holidays when people are overloaded on sweets and super-rich foods.

If you do decide to store the batter in jars, might I suggest you use wide-mouth jars (for easier scooping) and take a trip to Wal-mart to buy some of these handy-dandy babies:
These are BPA-free plastic lids for canning jars.  They are not meant for the actual canning process, but are great for storage and sharing (when you have an open jar of applesauce in the fridge or want to give your neighbors a cookie mix).  They fit both brands of mason jars (Ball and Kerr) and even fit the Better Homes and Gardens brand jars.  You'll find both regular-mouth and wide-mouth lids and at my Wal-mart (in the Phoenix area) a pack of 8 was less than $3!  Much cheaper than the Ball brand of lids.  Just a thought.  And no, I'm not being paid for any of this.  I just think they're fabulous.

Okay, enough talk. Here's the recipe:

ICEBOX BRAN MUFFINS

2 cups 100% bran cereal (All-Bran)
2 cups boiling water
1 cup shortening (or 1 stick of softened butter + 1/2 cup applesauce)
3 cups sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 quart buttermilk (low-fat is fine)
5 cups all-purpose flour
5 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
4 cups bran flakes cereal

To make batter:

In a medium bowl, pour boiling water over 100% bran (All-Bran) and let cool.

In a very large mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugar; add eggs, buttermilk, and bran and water mixture.  Stir in flour, soda, salt, and bran flakes until thoroughly combined.  Store batter in 4, 1 quart mason jars in the refrigerator up to seven weeks (unless you made it with butter and applesauce, then you can keep it up to one month).

To make muffins:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease or line a muffin tin.  Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and tops spring back when pressed.  (Mine are usually done right at 16 minutes.)  Store muffins in an airtight container up to one week - if they last that long!


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