Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I Missed My Bran Muffins

Update 3/30/08: Here's the thing about baked goods without much fat (preferably animal)... they don't keep that well. These tasted good for about 24 hours. Charitably, 36. After that they just tasted kind of... eh. And then they started to grow green whiskers. I think my preferred everyday-type breakfast bread is now my mom's Date and Nut bread. Recipe to come shortly. And I'll probably continue to tinker with the muffins. Maybe they can be frozen and baked to order...

Original Post:
Ever since my run-in with the nutritional info in the Starbucks Bran Muffin, I've been avoiding them, and I've missed the nice nutty breakfast-y thing to go with my occasional cup of morning coffee. A couple of recipes for low-fat bran muffins from various sources that I can't remember (and so shall undeservedly remain nameless) resulted in vile, vile little glop pellets.

Those of you who will judge me for using margarine (no matter how chi-chi, organic and appropriately omega-3 balanced) or egg-replacer need to just stop reading right now. We both know who you are. Yeah, I know they're processed foods. They're most definitely not "whole". But whatever. I had egg replacer and Earth Balance Buttery Sticks in my house because of some vegan baking I'd been doing for friends. And it's actually fine. You have to choose your applications, but in this case, with all kinds of other flavors going on, it's just not going to be an issue. In a situation where their function is primarily baking chemistry, that is, to get the texture of the muffin to turn out right, and the flavor is primarily concerned with the nuttiness of the grains and the kick of the ginger and spices (not to mention the nice lemony undertone) the lack of real buttery goodness is much less of an issue than it would otherwise be in, say, blueberry muffins.

That being said, if you don't do much vegan baking, and you want to add an egg, 1/12 of an egg actually doesn't add much cholesterol (17-20 mg) or saturated fat to your morning muffin. 1/4 cup of butter instead of the Buttery Sticks would add more saturated fat (1.3 g) and cholesterol (10mg) to each. Using both would just give you a little bit less flexibility throughout the rest of the day, and one of the whole points of the better bran muffin was not to have to skip dessert because you had a bran muffin for breakfast. It's about choosing your battles, people. Buttery Sticks where you won't taste 'em and they don't really matter so you can have the nice creme fraiche-enriched pan sauce for dinner.

I compared a lot of muffin recipes (because I didn't want these to end up in the trash). Delores Casella's A World of Breads (now out of print but available used from Amazon) had a great section on building your own muffin recipe. She had an idea about substituting nut butter for part of the butter, which I think worked really well.

Anyway... these are really good by any muffin standard. I might cut down the sugar next time.

1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill 8 Grain Cereal
1 cup Lowfat Yogurt
1/2 cup 1% Milk

3/4 cup Whole Almonds

1 cup White Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup Wheat Germ
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) Butter or Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
1 cup Brown Sugar (firmly packed)
1 Egg or Egg Replacer
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1 tbsp Vanilla
Zest of 1 Lemon

1/2 cup Crystallized Ginger (small pieces)
1/2 cup Dried Fruit (I used Bing cherries)

Preheat oven to 400. (Don't forget, because you don't want your muffins sitting around once the baking powder/soda has been activated by the wet ingredients.)

1. Add the 8 Grain Cereal to the yogurt and milk and mix around. Let it sit and get soft while you're doing the other stuff.

2. Toast the almonds. Optional but tasty. I put them on a little cookie sheet in my toaster oven on "medium toast" but you could also put them in the oven on 375-400 for about 5 minutes. You really need to watch them so they don't burn.

3. While they're toasting, combine the dry ingredients (wheat flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder) except the wheat germ (which you're going to toast and then add to the dry ingredients... again, optional).

3. Put the almonds in the Cuisinart, and get them as close to butter as you can. Mine mostly just got really finely ground. Not a big deal. Then add the butter/y sticks and beat it with the almonds for 30 seconds or so. Then add the brown sugar... another 15 seconds or so. Then the egg/replacer, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and lemon zest... couple of pulses til mixed.

3. Toast the wheat germ (same deal as the almonds, but for about half the time). Add to the dry ingredients. Add the ginger and fruit to the dry ingredients.

4. Add the almond stuff to the yogurt and cereal and mix.

5. Add the wet and dry ingredients and mix just until all the dry ingredients are wet.

6. Divide among 12 lined muffin tins. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. (Don't be tempted to underbake.)

Nutritional Info (calculated by nutritionsource.com):
Calories: 282
Fat: 8.8 g
Saturated Fat: 1.5 g
Cholesterol: 2mg
Sodium: 224 mg
Carbohydrate: 46g
Dietary Fiber: 4.4g
Sugars: 28.9g
Protein: 6.5g
Calcium: 11%
Iron: 9%

MUCH better than Starbucks (and, of course, tastier). And definitely better than a quarter pounder.


A said...

Cool! Since I feel to blame for the presence of said Buttery Sticks in your house, I wonder if one could modify the recipe with a non-dairy milk and yogurt to make it vegan?

What say the food goddess?

Anonymous said...

That's a good question

Hel(en) said...

Very probably. Their purpose is primarily to provide the moisture content of the recipe. I wonder if soy yogurt has the same ph as dairy yogurt (fly-spouse would know ;-) ). Probably it does, but that might affect how it interacts with the baking soda. If you try it once and they seem overly dense you might switch to all baking powder. But I think it will be fine. Maybe try almond milk to go with the other almonds in the recipe. Good luck!

elizabeth said...

I know this is random, but I found your blog via the bread and yarn group on Ravelry and I'm a vegan so thanks for the vegan recipes!