Molasses Blueberry Bran Muffins

Well, this week certainly put me through my paces. (Oh, you too? TGIF.)

It’s a good thing I have whole wheat bran muffins for breakfast…I mean, it’s a really good thing.

What’s even sweeter is the fact that they were made with blueberries harvested with a dear friend at a “secret” blueberry farm. And to cinch it all together: these muffins have no refined sugar, but taste like you’re sort of getting away with something when you bite into them before 9 am.

What’s not to love about that?

If you’ve been following with the blog, you have probably gathered that I pretty much always have sweets in the house. When I’m halfway through one baked treat, it’s time to dream up the next one. (As I pen this, there is half of a loaf of bread pudding perched in my fridge, screaming to be eaten…I must remind myself, “adults” eat dinner then dessert…)

So it came as no surprise that I felt compelled (and I absolutely mean compelled) to try my hand at bran muffins this week, like, STAT. I guess I just couldn’t handle looking at the bag of Bob’s Red Mill wheat bran which has been staring me in the face for the last month, hinting ever so subtly that I should, ahem, make it into something delicious and vaguely nutritious already!

Thus, I plucked it from the shelf and did a little internet rummaging. (“How can I recreate those totally spectacular blueberry bran muffins featured at that coffee roaster in Portland?”)

With just a little digging, I found an approximation that brought me one step closer to that goal.

Adapted from this recipe from Food52, this muffin batter creates the perfect backdrop for whatever seasonal fruit, seeds, shredded vegetables or coconut you wish to spotlight. It’s simple to put together, with little mess. They taste like a treat but they’re sort of, like, a super food or something…at least, that’s what I’m telling myself.

that bright orange stuff is mashed baked sweet potato, but applesauce would work great here too!

Like many recipes in baking, the ingredients were placed in “wet” and “dry” bowls respectively, making for simple assembly and easy clean up.

here i am infusing these muffins with the last of summer’s sun…let steep for a few minutes in direct light for best results 🙂

Mix it all together…

i mean, that color just says “nutrient-packed”

Another beautiful aspect of this recipe is how perfectly it fills a 12-part cupcake pan. Less mess and cleanup, and you have 12 perfect muffins at the end of the process–I didn’t weigh or measure at any point during the batter scooping!

pro tip: butter or oil the lip of each “muffin hole” well so that your muffins crisp up nicely during the bake and pop out of the tin easily after

Then bake! And voila:

so delicious, and not so bad for your gut/waistline

For those of you who like to nerd out a little bit about food, part of what’s so great about these muffins is the amount of fiber paired with the natural sugar. As you probably know, your liver processes sugar as well as alcohol. When you consume an excessive amount of sugar in a short amount of time, it “panics” and transforms the sugar into fat rather than processing it as fuel for the body. I guess it’s kind of like hitting the snooze button when your alarm goes off.

Eating fiber with your sugar reduces the chance of the snooze button being hit; it slows down the process of digestion and gives your liver a chance to keep up with your carbohydrates. This is one of the many, many reasons that we love fresh produce.

So, not only are you getting antioxidants from the honey and blueberries and minerals from the molasses, but you’re getting our friend fiber from the whole wheat flour, wheat bran, berries, and coconut to boot. Are you psyched yet??

Molasses Blueberry Bran Muffins

Note: You can add whatever seasonal fruit is desirable, coconut flakes, dates, hemp hearts, toasted seeds or nuts…you can even sub applesauce for mashed baked sweet potato with a few tablespoons of water. It’s all about texture and natural sweetness with these muffins! 

Ingredients

  • butter or oil for muffin tin (optional)
  • 1 c wheat bran
  • 1 ½ c whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ c blueberries
  • ½ c walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped
  • ¼ c shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1 c milk
  • ½ c molasses
  • 3 Tbs honey
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ c applesauce (or scant ½ c mashed, cooked sweet potato with 3 Tbs water)
  • 2 Tbs melted coconut oil

Preheat oven to 400°F and butter or oil a muffin tin or line with paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together bran, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Stir in fruit, nuts, coconut, and any other desired accoutrements to the flour mixture.

In a medium bowl, mix together milk, molasses, honey, eggs, applesauce or sweet potato mash, and oil.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Divide the batter evenly between the 12 cups. (They will feel perilously full, but this is how they should look!)

Bake for 15-18 minutes–no longer than 20 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean when inserted into the muffin. Enjoy!

Slightly Savory Rye Plum Pie

Well, it’s my “Sunday” today. Which means, of course, that I had to go to the farmer’s market over the “weekend” before heading back to “work.”

I don’t even want to tell you how much of my paycheck I drop on fresh produce.

While I bravely abstained from buying another “happy” local chicken, I definitely ended up purchasing some mushrooms “by mistake.” Oysters. Plus, the kindly mushroom vendor slipped in a king trumpet, on the house! I’ve got the beginnings of a mushroom charcuterie board over here…but I don’t want to get any harebrained ideas. I’ll just stick to sautéing them in butter and pouring them over grains, meat, or pasta like everyone else.

After recently making plum preserves out of some of the most beautiful empress plums I have ever beheld, I’ve been feeling, well, really into plums.

Be honest with yourself: when was the last time you really savored biting into a plum? That tender, juicy, incredibly sweet flesh coupled with a tangy, sour exterior? And that frosted purple skin? I mean, come on! Nature’s just laughing all the way to the bank with that one.

Or at least, the fruit vendors are every time I come around…I snagged some grapes as I was checking out like someone might snag a candy bar at the grocery store. Sugar is sugar, I guess.

I pondered what to make of these gorgeous darlings for a while before finally settling on pie. But to make things a little more interesting, I decided to bring rye flour to the party.

If the thought of rye flour makes you sweat, or you’d rather not buy a $30 bag of flour to use once and never again, substitute for whole wheat or all-purpose flour. I chose rye for its aromatic, slightly nutty qualities. Getting a whiff of this pie as it’s coming into life in the oven is a true treat, and gives your senses something to ponder until it’s time, at last, to eat.

you can use orange or lemon juice in the fruit filling. i wanted to really taste the plum in my pie, but feel free to throw in 1/2-1 tsp fresh zest. (this cutting board made by my talented boyfriend <3)

First, I mixed up the dough using equal parts rye and all-purpose flours, salt, a little sugar, butter, and water. This I let chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

I then washed the plums and cut them into uneven chunks (I like a little variety in each slice). I tossed these in a bowl with sugar, vanilla paste, orange juice, and a pinch of salt.

I rolled out half of the chilled dough on a floured surface. The rye flour makes this crust a little more prone to breaking than straight all-purpose flour, so I rolled the thin crust in my rolling pin and eased it over the pie plate.

dot with about 4 tbs butter

I got a new rolling crinkle cutter toy from the kitchen store, and was very excited to put it to use!

I used the scraps from the pie to make a galette with the leftover plum jam from last week! 🙂 don’t be afraid to freeze your dough in a moisture-proof zip top bag if you don’t want to be swimming in desserts.

Paint your beautiful, beautiful pie with egg wash, then it’s off to the races! Your home is about to smell amazing.

i put a baking sheet under the baking pie so falling drops of syrup didn’t burn and smoke my roommates out.
may or may not have eaten pie for breakfast

Use up these plums while they’re around, people! Your taste buds will thank you, and so will your local source.

Slightly Savory Rye Plum Pie

Serves 12

Crust

  • 1 ½ c all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ c rye flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1 c butter (two sticks)
  • ½ c + 1 Tbs cold water

Plum filling

  • 2 lbs plums, cut into varying sized chunks (skin on)
  • 1/3 c brown sugar (light or dark)
  • ¼ c all-purpose flour or white rice flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice or orange juice
  • 1 three-fingered pinch of salt
  • 4 Tbs butter, for dotting the top of fruit

Assembly

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Splash of heavy cream (optional)
  • 1 Tbs finishing sugar, like demerara, turbinado, or another large-crystal sugar
  • 1-2 pinches large flaked salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix dry ingredients for crust in a large bowl with a fork or a whisk. Cut butter into small chunks and incorporate with a pastry cutter or with your fingers. (Alternatively, use a cheese grater on its largest “setting” to break butter into small, uniform pieces and mix into the flour.) Add the water ¼ cup at a time and mix with your hands until dough comes together. Divide dough unto two even pieces, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge at least 20 minutes.

Cut plums into chunks of desired size, leaving the skins on, and place in another large bowl. Add brown sugar, flour, vanilla, fruit juice, and salt, and mix gently with your hands or a spatula or wooden spoon. Let the fruit juices sit in the sugar at least 10 minutes.

Roll out half of dough while fruit is macerating. Line a shallow pie dish, and add fruit when 10 minutes have passed, scraping out all the juice and sugar from the fruit bowl with a spatula. Dot the fruit with second measurement of butter, evenly distributing over the surface. Roll out second half of dough and place over the top of the fruit, creating a lattice if desired. Pinch the edges of the two pieces of rolled out dough together until a recognizable outer crust forms. (Alternatively, crimp edges with a fork and cover with foil, leaving the center of the pie uncovered.)

Beat egg in a small bowl and add cream, if using. Using a pastry brush, spread egg mixture over the top crust, coating all visible surfaces. Sprinkle finishing sugar over the crust and optional salt.

Bake 45 minutes-1 hour, tenting with foil for the last 20 minutes if desired to prevent crust from getting too dark. If you are worried about the pie bubbling over and sending molten sugar to burn on the bottom of your oven, place a cookie sheet underneath the pie tin. You want the fruit filling to bubble in order to cook the flour; this ensures the insides of your pie will thicken and set. 

Let the pie cool at least 20 minutes before cutting into it. Enjoy with plain coconut milk or goat milk ice cream, whipped cream or coconut cream, yogurt, or sour cream or sweetened with a touch of honey.