What makes these Old Hippy Bran Muffins? Well, they are made by me, an old hippy*, and the recipe comes from Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book, the companion to Laurel’s Kitchen, a certifiable old hippy cookbook. At one point, if you were interested in cooking healthily, there weren’t many cookbooks to choose from. There was Let’s Cook it Right by Adelle Davis and then there was Laurel’s Kitchen, a vegetarian cookbook. The book had a hand-crafted, whole wheat feeling to it, and it seemed that everything I made from it was brown and redolent of cardboard. In a nostalgic mood last night, I sat down to browse through the Bread Book, and found a recipe for bran muffins that purported to be a “mighty fine muffin.” Game on! I was looking for a plain, nutritious muffin for our lunches, but it had to taste good, too. These are made with bran, as opposed to bran cereal, and include buttermilk, which is often a signal for a tender muffin. I have to say, the resultant muffins were pretty much perfect–they rose nicely, and were moist and light. They taste branny but not cardboard-y. Yes, they’re brown, but they are supposed to be brown, so that’s okay. So, hey, man, here is the recipe:
Old Hippy Bran Muffins
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners.
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups bran
3 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
Sift flour, soda and salt together, and stir in the bran. Beat the oil and sugar and molasses together, and add the egg and buttermilk. Mix dry ingredients into liquids. Stir just until mixed, and there are no patches of flour, and then stop immediately. Spoon into the lined cupcake pans, filling about three-quarters full. Bake muffins 15 to 20 minutes. This makes 12 muffins.
Baking note: Instead of using fresh, liquid buttermilk, I used Saco Cultured Buttermilk, which is a dry powder. It works perfectly, and means that you will never have a half-finished carton of buttermilk languishing for weeks in your fridge. It can be found in most grocery stores in the aisle with baking ingredients. This recipe makes exactly twelve muffins, so if you add anything, like blueberries, for instance, be prepared with an additional muffin pan.
*I passed for a hippy at school, wearing wire rim glasses and buffalo hide sandals, but my heart wasn’t in it. I am, by nature, industrious, and am never happier than when learning or making something. Lying around and saying “Hey, man,” was really not my thing–it made me restless. I can remember ducking out of a sit-in to audit a lecture on Italian Renaissance painting, and listening enthralled to the lecturer, an Italian professor with a black eye patch. It was wonderful, and I went to every lecture after that. But there was an electricity in the air then that is totally absent now, and something exciting (both in good and bad ways) seemed to happen every day. I can remember going to see “Woodstock,” for the first time. We had a motorcycle accident on the way there, and both of us were thrown into the air. I fell on my right knee. We laughed it off and went on to the movie, and five minutes after it started, there was a bomb scare. We all had to look under our seats for a bomb, which is pretty extraordinary when you think about it.