I know, I know, it’s the end of summer and most farmer’s markets have stopped selling blueberries because the season is basically over. If you plan ahead, you stockpile blueberries all summer long and freeze them yourself (just make one layer on a sheet pan and freeze until rock hard, about 4 hours, then transfer to a freezer bag for easier storage). If you haven’t hit that stage in your blueberry consumption just yet – or you got busy and all of the sudden it was the end of summer – you can use fresh or frozen berries from the supermarket – just make sure it’s a brand you’ve used before, and taste them before you put them into your bran muffin batter. Mediocre blueberries ruined a number of recipes for me (which is why I advocate freezing your own fruit!).
Before I get into the recipe, I want to explain my ingredient choices. First: why bran? Um … because I like it. Bran muffins are my favorite indulgence – I love the warm, nutty flavor of the bran; it works really well with brown sugar, which also happens to be my favorite type of sugar. Additionally, bran is packed with nutrients like fiber, magnesium, and iron. Personally, if I’m going to let myself have something sweet for breakfast, I need it to at least give me some nutrients to help alleviate my guilt over skipping my regularly scheduled breakfast of eggs and fruit, or granola.
Second: why flaxseed? Honestly – I just thought it sounded good. I wanted to put as little flour as possible in these blueberry bran muffins, but I was afraid that too much bran would both weigh down the muffins and overwhelm the blueberry flavor. “Flaxseed” popped into my head and I decided to give it a try. Upon later research, I learned that flaxseed contains lots of antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids, and more fiber – all of which are good for you. Flaxseed meal is just ground up flaxseeds, which works better for baked goods than would the whole seeds. However, you need to keep it in the refrigerator after you open the package. Omega 3 fatty acids mean increased likelihood of rancidity with exposure to heat. It’s not a particularly cheap product, so make it last by storing it in the fridge.
Third: why blueberries? Because I had a ton of them. I mentioned in my blueberry pocket pie post that I bought a ton of blueberries (I didn’t freeze my own this year because I wasn’t home very much). I’m frugal, so before I invest in bulk-buys I make sure I can think of 2-3 different uses for the ingredient (depending on the quantity). I used up my two pounds of berries in the blueberry pocket pies, a mini pie, and these blueberry bran muffins – which used a whopping two cups of blueberries. That’s a sixth of a cup of blueberries in every single muffin (which is just under a full serving of fruit). Like flax seed, blueberries are also loaded with antioxidants.
Now for the recipe:
- 1 1/4 C all-purpose unbleached flour
- 1/2 C flaxseed meal
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt (table salt)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3/4 C wheat bran
- 1 C buttermilk
- 1/3 C vegetable oil
- 2/3 C light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 C blueberries (fresh is best but still-frozen can be used)
- Mise en place!
- Combine bran and buttermilk in a large bowl and let stand for ten minutes. You'll eventually add everything to this bowl, so make sure it's big enough to hold all of the batter. Soaking the bran softens it, and provides a lighter, more moist muffin. Don't skip this step!
- Mix flour, flaxseed meal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together. Whisk to ensure that all ingredients are evenly dispersed throughout the mixture. Remove 2 TBSP and set aside.
- Whisk the egg, vanilla, brown sugar, and vegetable oil together until it's one homogenous mixture. You're creating an emulsion here, so just keep whisking until all of the oil is suspended - kind of like salad dressing, but the sugar content is so high that you don't have to drizzle the oil in to get the emulsion to work properly.
- Add the wet mixture to the bran and buttermilk and whisk until fully incorporated.
- Switch to a spatula and add your flour and flaxseed meal mixture (all but the 2 TBSP you already removed) to the bran, buttermilk, etc. Fold gently until you only see streaks of flour.
- Toss the blueberries in the reserved 2 TBSP of dry mixture until fully coated. This will help to prevent the berries from sinking straight to the bottom of the muffin.
- Gently fold the blueberries into the batter, being careful not to break them.
- Portion into a standard 12-well muffin tin lined with paper liners
- Bake at 375 for 17-22 minutes (mine took 19 exactly)
These muffins are 200 calories a piece (compare to the standard 350-500 calorie muffins at most coffee shops).
These actually taste heartier and more fulfilling when left to sit overnight - make on a Sunday and enjoy for breakfast all week!
Did these blueberry bran muffins make your morning? Did you find an awesome substitution? Tell me about your experience in the comments below!