Baking in January - Bran Muffins

homemade bran muffins

Let’s cheer up a bit….

The past few weeks, I’ve been pondering some heavy topics. My hunch is that it’s because every January turns out to be 31 days of re-evaluation and transition for me. Okay, and for the rest of the world. It doesn’t help that my family has a crappy track record with Januaries (tough health situations, family deaths, etc.).

As a way to mitigate some of this year’s January jumpiness, I’m turning to something that has reliably brought me comfort for years…BAKING!

I feel decadent spending time in the kitchen with good music playing, a clean (but only for the moment) apron, my mixing bowls shining on the counter, and the sounds of the oven clanking as it strains to preheat.    

This week, I decided to try a new recipe for baking bran muffins.

Yes, I know they’re not trendy, but come on, they’re delicious! And can be quite nutritious.

Note: The word “bran” describes part of a plant. It’s the outer part of a grain seed (also called a kernel). Bran is a byproduct of making flour and it contains most of the nutrition of the kernel (unlike white flour which is made of the kernel’s endosperm and is mostly carbohydrates). This recipe called for both oat bran (the bran from oat kernels) and wheat bran (the bran from wheat kernels).

Truthfully, the real reason I baked bran muffins this week is in honor of my grandfather. I’ve been thinking of him a lot lately. He died suddenly four years ago, just a few days into 2012. And he LOVED bran muffins; baking them was his specialty.

Gramps was very health-conscious and he exercised up until the last day of his life. When I think about my own health regime, much of it (biking trips! Trying new things like aerial!) was inspired by him.

The bran muffins Gramps baked used All-Bran cereal, white flour, and sugar as the main ingredients.

I wanted to pick something with more whole ingredients and less processing that would still taste delicious. A lofty goal!

After scouring the internet (aka: a 6-minute google search), I settled on this basic recipe from Susan at Farmgirl Fare.

Ingredients for homemade sustainable bran muffins
Baking bran muffins - dry ingredients
wet ingredients for baking sustainable bran muffins
Ready to be baked bran muffins
sustainable bran muffins pre-baking

Review: These are great! You can tell this a hardy workhorse of a muffin; this muffin is not messing around. Earthy, dark, molasses-y, with a crunchy outside and soft middle. Delicious. These aren’t sweet, so I intend to eat them for breakfast this week (if there are any left after the first day). I am already eyeing the variations for adding blueberries, bananas, and cranberries! That will have to wait until next time, though.

These muffins aren’t gluten-free and they’re not vegan. They won’t bring political power back to the people. They won’t save the world. But they brought me a lot of joy this week. And my experience baking them was such a relaxing, tangible pleasure that I felt revived. So that will be have to be good enough for now.

January bran muffins

What types of kitchen activities bring YOU comfort?