Sweet Treats – Bran Muffins
Apropos of nothing, my housemate announced one morning that she wanted to bake some bran muffins. I’m ashamed to say I immediately thought the worst and my treacherous thoughts then showed all over my face.
I assumed, rather unfairly, that they would be made of roughage only a horse could love, or possibly, that they would be made from breakfast cereal. I assumed the results would be dry, heavy, lumpen and quite inedible in that guilt-inducing but-it’s-good-for-you virtuousness that some people go on with.
Still, recognising that she was going to bake them whatever I said, I gritted my teeth and smiled out an enthusiastic, “oh, that sounds good”, but not before she would have seen that flicker of horror mixed with uncertainty cloud my face. I had the good sense to hastily beat a retreat and so I left her to it.
About half an hour later the house was filled with the smell of baking. Something smelt good. Something smelt delicious actually, with warm hints of apricot, brown sugar and ginger wafting through the house. A friend popped over just as they came out of the oven, a pot of tea was made and the three of us settled in for a chat.
Dear reader, we demolished seven of them in the next 15 minutes. We scoffed the rest within half an hour of this photo being taken. They didn’t make it to room temperature, let alone get placed on a pretty plate to impress the visitor. They are sensationally good, sweet from fruit, rich from brown sugar and gently spiced, but the texture is what crowns them. They are so soft, they have the consistency of bread if you take them out of the oven at just the right moment.
No wonder then that my housemate surveyed the wreckage with the quiet satisfaction of having trumped everyone and said, “I’d better make another batch.”
This time, I didn’t resist.
60g butter; 1 tbsp golden syrup; 1/2 cup soft brown sugar; 1 egg; 1 cup self-raising flour; 1/2 cup bran (available from health food sections of supermarkets); 1 cup sultanas OR diced dried apricots; 1 tsp ginger; 1 tsp vanilla essence; 3/4 cup milk; 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pre-heat oven to 170 C. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper cases.
Place the butter, golden syrup and sugar in a small saucepan or a medium-sized heat proof bowl and melt over medium heat until the butter is melted and sugar dissolved. Alternatively you can do this in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until the sugar dissolves.
Add the lightly beaten egg, sifted flour, bran, sultanas or apricots, ginger and vanilla essence to the mixture and stir it lightly with a wooden spoon to just combine.
Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it is hot but not boiling, so that small bubbles are starting to form around the edge of the saucepan. Add the bicarb to the hot milk and stir well to dissolve.
Pour the hot milk into the bran mixture in three or four lots and stir it in to combine before adding the next lot. Spoon the mixture evenly between each muffin cup.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the muffins are golden and springy to the touch. Serve them warm with a good spread of butter and a well-made pot of tea. Then make another batch for the rest of the family.
$4.00 for 12 muffins