Breakfast @ 226 - Bird Seed Bran Muffins

I've always loved bran muffins.  I realize that's a strange claim.  Sort of like saying, I've always loved Shakespeare or folding laundry, both of which are true.  Most people eat wheat bran out of obligation to healthfulness, not out of genuine cravability.  When I'm at the airport 100 hours early for my flight  and they have those shrink-wrapped-baked-100-years-ago-muffins, next to the perfect looking bananas that I'm not sure are even on sale (seriously, I tried to order one once and it was like the first time they had ever heard this request), I always snag the bran variety.  Always, always, always.

There are so many typical breakfast muffin combinations that fly off those magazine or coffee store shelves.  Even at my local coffee shop, harried customers always leave with a napkin wrapped blueberry muffin stuffed in their suit pocket or the coffee cake with streusel topping gently held by their teeth while they juggle two ventis and the exit door..  But, no one ever gives the bran muffin the attention it deserves.  Although, even as a fan of bran (hehe), I can admit these prototypes are not the best representation of bran muffins.  They're often so dense, you need a liter of water just to wash it down and the sugar content is usually astronomical to accommodate for the fact that most Americans don't like healthy tasting food.

Even armed with the knowledge that a bran muffin could get better, I never ventured out to find wheat bran.  In fact, until yesterday, I had no idea what wheat bran even looked like.  Just FYI, it's white and light brown light-as-a-feather flakes.

At Trader Joe's, you can find some delicious bran muffins.  Though they are on the pricier side (as with all pre-prepared food), these prepackaged wonders only list a few ingredients, a good sign that a home cook can probably recreate them.  The other game changer came with this book.  My sister gifted it to me and I even got to pick up lunch (curry tuna salad with grapes on a housemade croissant) at the renowned bakery when I was visiting her in Boston.  It was every bit as adorable and delicious as the book leads you to believe.  And, I'm happy to report that these muffins (adapted from that book) that finally got me off my tush and to the health food store bulk bins are absolutely worth it.  I'll never go shrink-wrapped again.

Bird Seed Bran Muffins - adapted from this book.  For convenience, I let these cool and then wrapped them individually in plastic wrap and put them in a freezer bag in the freezer.  If you're not going to eat them on the day they're baked, I recommend you do the same.  That way, when your inevitable bran muffin craving strikes, you just pluck one of these out of the freezer, jam it into your bag and eat it on the go an hour or so later.  I do not recommend thawing/warming them in the oven straight from the freezer.  It dries out the outside, while leaving the inside cold.  They're great cut in half, smeared with almond butter or salted butter, or both. Make 16 muffins.

2 1/2 cups wheat bran
1 1/4 cups milk (I used almond milk)
1 3/4 cup Greek yogurt (not low or non fat)
2 eggs
1 cup golden raisins
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (I used part pastry flour and part spelt flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsulfered molasses (dark or light both work)
a spoonful of millet
a spoonful of flaxseeds
a spoonful of sunflower seeds

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and line 16 spots in two muffin tins with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, stir together the first four ingredients and set aside to let the wheat bran absorb the moisture for about 30 minutes.

Using a small bowl, cover the raisins in nearly boiling water to plump them up.*

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

After 30 minutes, add the brown sugar and molasses to the bran mixture.  Stir to incorporate.  Drain the raisins and add them to the mixture as well.

Scrape the bran mixture into the dry ingredients and gently fold them together.  The batter is thick, but gloopy.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins, filling them nearly to the top.  In a small bowl mix up the millet, flaxseeds and sunflower seeds.  Sprinkle over the top of the unbaked muffins and gently press the "bird seed" into the batter with the back of a spoon.

Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, switching rack position halfway through.  Let cool in the pan, on a wire rack for 20 minutes.  Then, eat them, yo!

*This step gives the raisins an almost berry like texture.  If you prefer your raisins dense and chewy (like Beckett does), skip this step.

Want more breakfast ideas?  Check here.

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