There’s always that question, if you could live in any time period, what era would you choose. I used to think the 20’s. Art nouveau is my favorite, and fringe can certainly add a lot to a dress. But there are a problems in this jazzy world: no allergy medicine, no contacts, no braces for my one-crooked teeth. Everything takes just a little more work without the conveniences that I’ve become used to, specifically at the grocery store.
With this in mind, I give thanks for frozen puff pastry, already ground flour, and pasteurized milk. There are somethings that don’t have to be homemade to be amazing. I’ve had some pretty fantastic fudge that can rival our family recipe, semolina pasta isn’t always worth the trouble, and I cannot stand dealing with homemade graham pie crusts.
This recipe utilizes the best of both worlds. It is homemade and traditional, but utilizes pre-made cereals.
I don’t know how many places I’ve seen bran muffins for sale, but I can tell you that they are never even half as good as these. Something about the texture, the flavor, the freshness, has yet to be beat. We keep the dry ingredients on hand always. There is a special spot for them in our pantry, right next to the cookie cutters and cake flour. Try these muffins and then tell me it isn’t worth giving up that space.
Also I feel the need to warn you about something. This is not the prettiest batter. If I’m being honest, it might be the ugliest thing I make. But looks can be deceiving, and the finished product tastes nothing like what the slop that went into the oven.
One of the beauties of these muffins lies in the storage time. We make the batter and immediately divide the large quantity into containers to refrigerate until someone wants muffins. The batter keeps for just over a week and, honestly, tastes better after a few days of the flavors sitting and mixing. In a pinch, you can microwave a mug filled with batter for a slightly misshapen but equally tasty muffin. I’d guess 90 seconds or so, but try it for yourself. There are two different kinds of cereal used in this mix, one is buds, one is sticks. They should have them both in most stores, and if you get confused, I specifically took pictures of both.
2 cups boiling water
2 cups bran buds
1 cup vegetable shortening
3 cups granulated sugar
1 quart buttermilk
5 cups all-purpose flour, not sifted
5 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
4 cups bran sticks
Pour boiling water over bran buds. Let sit until all of the water has been absorbed into the cereal. It will take a few minutes.
In a separate, large bowl, cream together shortening and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time. Mix the following ingredients, in this order: soggy bran buds, buttermilk, flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat until smooth. Fold in the bran sticks.
Pour batter into greased muffing tin. Bake at 400oF for 10-14 minutes.