Bran Muffins

This recipe is not necessarily part of our Cooking with Kids series, but it could be! I include just a couple of ideas below. And if you are interested in getting your kiddos in the kitchen, this post has many of our tips and tricks.

There’s nothing like a good breakfast (and a strong cup of coffee) to get your week off to a great start. Do you agree? Somehow/somewhere a few months back, my breakfast routine completely vanished. I wasn’t interested in my spiffed-up bowls of oatmeal, eating cereal didn’t fill me up and tasted a bit too sugary (we all make bad choices in that aisle!), and I didn’t have the time or patience to scramble eggs. So I just didn’t eat, which is the worst plan when your mornings start with a bang and you’re running after two kids.


It took me some time to identify the problem. Maybe I did a little of the five whys? Alex definitely does a whole lot of the 500 whys every day now. Anyway, I realized that I needed to find a healthy breakfast that I could pick up and go. I’m definitely not a fan of processed bars, and I don’t even like that a “grab-and-go” option is what my breakfast urges are calling for right now, but if it fills me up, it’s better than a hangry hangover.

That predicament led to my search for some new whole grain muffin recipes and provided the perfect excuse to buy this cookbook. This was my first recipe from the book, and as I was baking these muffins, I was immediately hemming and hawing over how tedious they seemed to be (make this jam, sift this, warm that, etc.), but the final muffins are amazing! They’re moist, with the perfect touch of sweetness, a touch of tartness from the orange, and best of all, packed with whole grains. Looking back, I was baking these while making dinner with both boys climbing the walls of the kitchen. So maybe the recipe is a bit tedious, or maybe my kitchen was just a madhouse?


I made just a couple of changes to the recipe. I didn’t have buttermilk on hand, so I turned to the usual substitution of whole milk and vinegar. I wasn’t sure how it would work since the author even warns about not warming the milk too much so as not to have it separate (the vinegar/milk mixture is immediately separated and chunky), but in the end, I think this was just fine. And funnily enough, these muffins are in the amaranth flour chapter of the book, but that was the other ingredient I had to substitute. I couldn’t find amaranth flour the day I was shopping, and since the recipe only called for a 1/2 cup, I didn’t mind substituting white flour and just moving on. As you’ll see, there are still plenty of whole grains coming from the wheat bran and the whole wheat flour.


Finally, the original recipe has you make enough prune and orange juice jam to make three batches of muffins. At first I was a bit miffed about this. We aren’t huge jam eaters, and so I knew the jam wasn’t something we were going to use up. BUT once I realized how quickly we were going to go through the batch, I was so happy to have the extra jam made and ready for the next batch (thereby making this “tedious” recipe that much easier the next time around). So, I follow her lead, and have the proportions written below for the full 1.5 cups of jam, even though you only use a 1/2 cup in a single batch.



I didn’t bake this batch with Alex as I usually do, having him help with measuring and pouring ingredients. That said, this is a great recipe to bake with kids if you plan accordingly. For example, since the “jam” mixture has to sit for 30 minutes, you would want to have something that you could do during that down time. Other than that, it’s fun to show kiddos how to make fresh-squeezed OJ (a novelty in our house!), and be sure to buy an extra orange or two so that they can have a glass. I also set Alex on the hard task of counting prunes before they went in the pot. And this recipe could be used to introduce kids to both the wheat bran and whole wheat flour. Good stuff!

Bran Muffins

Bran Muffins


  • 1 cup fresh orange juice (from about 3 oranges)
  • 1 1/2 cups pitted prunes
  • 1 1/2 cups wheat bran
  • 1/2 cup white flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp orange zest


    Make the Jam
  1. Bring the OJ and prunes to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat, cover, and let steep for about 30 minutes (you want to prunes to absorb some of the OJ and plump up). Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth.
  2. Make the Muffins
  3. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line muffin tins with papers.
  4. Measure the wheat bran into a bowl, fluffing it with your fingers. Sift the remaining dry ingredients into a bowl, you may have to break up the brown sugar bits, just make sure they make it into the bowl!
  5. Warm the buttermilk until lukewarm (I warmed my milk/vinegar mixture in the microwave until it was just lukewarm). Wisk together the warmed buttermilk, molasses, melted butter, egg, and orange zest. Add the fluffed bran and stir. Add the sifted dry ingredients and stir gently to form the batter.
  6. Scoop the batter into muffin cups (she said it makes 10, I made 12 and still had some extra batter). Bake for 30-34 minutes.


I can’t mention enough how delicious these muffins were; just know that Calder had to hide the tin of muffins so that he could get them out of his mind. I was flipping through the cookbook again as I prepared this post, and am excited to try a number of other recipes (oat and fruit bars with rye flour!).

That said, I found her instructions to be a bit fussy and at times confusing. For example, in this recipe she refers to the wheat bran as being “softened”. I was sure that I missed a step, but I think she was just referring to the bran being fluffed from when you measured it? She’s obviously not baking in the crazy kitchen that I am, but I’m sure it takes a bit of peace to come up with recipes this delicious!  

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