June 02, 2007

Better Bran Muffins

Better Bran Muffins

Makes 12 muffins
1 cup raisins, 1 teaspoon water, 2 1/4 cups All-Bran Original sereal. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 large egg, 1 large yolk, 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar, 3 tablespoonс molasses, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, 1 3/4 cups plain whole milk yogurt

Heat the oven to 400F. Spray standard-sized muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray. Combine raisins and water in small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, cut several steam vents in plastic with paring knife, and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. Let stand, covered, until raisins are softened and plump, about 5 minutes. Transfer raisins to paper towel-lined plate to sool.

Process halp of bran cereal in food processor until finely ground, about 1 minute. Whisk flours, soda, and salt in large bowl to combine: set aside. Whisk egg and yolk together in medium bowl until well-combined. Add sugar, molasses, and vanilla. Add melted butter and whisk to combine; add yogurt and whisk to combine. Stir in processed cereal and unprocessed cereal; let misture sit until cereal is evenly moistened about 5 minutes.

Add wet ingridients to dry ones and gently mix with rubber spatula until batter is combines and evenly moistened. Do not overmix. Gently fold raisins into batter. Using 1/3 cup measure scoop, divide batter evenly among muffin cups, dropping batter to form mounds.

Bake until muffins are dark golden, rotating pan halfway through baking. Cool muffins in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Classic bran muffins rely on unprocessed wheat bran, but our supermarket survey showed that few stores carry this specialized ingredient. We wanted to make a real bran muffin—a moist, hearty muffin redolent of bran's rich, earthy flavor—without tracking down unprocessed bran.

We turned to the cereal aisle of our store. Our first goal was to narrow down the bran cereal choices, which we classified as twigs, flakes, and granules. Twigs (especially Kellogg's All-Bran Original) gave our muffins the most robust bran flavor, but at first they didn't dissolve into the batter, even sticking out of the tops of the baked muffins. To get the chewy, rustic texture we wanted, we pulverized half of the cereal and kept the other half whole—the twigs softened perfectly in only five minutes. The other secrets proved to be relatively easy to unearth. Whole milk yogurt was the tasters' first choice for the moisture component. And replacing the baking powder with baking soda gave a coarser crumb that fit the rustic muffins. Our final challenge was the raisins. We found that to get them soft enough, we needed to plump them in the microwave with a little water before baking.

Recipe from Cook's

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