These muffins are packed with fiber, not only from the wheat bran but also from a prune puree that keeps the muffin moist. Amaranth adds a grassy note. The muffins are best made a few hours ahead, or ideally the night before.
Fill alternate wells in the muffin pans, so each muffin has room to spread out and bake evenly. For this recipe, use two 12-well muffin pans or one large 24-count muffin pan (wells with 1/3-cup capacity). When greasing the pans, make sure you grease outside the rim of each muffin well so the muffin top does not stick.
Make Ahead: Only half of the prune puree is used in this recipe. The remaining puree can be refrigerated or frozen and used for a jam or for another batch of muffins. The muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Servings: 10 muffins
- 3 large oranges
- 1 1/2 cups pitted prunes
- 1 1/2 cups wheat bran
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1/2 cup amaranth flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses (do not use blackstrap)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 1 large egg
Finely grate the zest of 1 orange to yield 1 tablespoon; reserve. Squeeze enough juice from the oranges to yield 1 cup.
Combine the juice and prunes in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring just to a boil, then cover and turn off the heat. Let sit for about 30 minutes, then use an immersion (stick) blender or a regular blender to puree the mixture until thick and smooth. The yield will be about 1 cup; 1/2 cup will be used for this recipe. Reserve the rest for another use.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use a litte butter to grease 10 alternating muffin wells in the muffin pan or pans (see headnote).
Measure the wheat bran into a medium bowl. Warm the buttermilk in a small saucepan over the lowest possible heat setting; it will separate if overheated. Pour the buttermilk over the bran, stirring to combine.
Sift together the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into a mixing bowl, adding any bits of grain that remain in the sifter.
Whisk together the molasses, melted butter, egg, the 1/2 cup of prune puree and the orange zest in a medium bowl, making sure the egg is well incorporated. Add the mixture to the buttermilk-bran mixture, stirring, then add the resulting mixture to the flour mixture and mix well to form a batter.
Use a spoon or ice cream scoop to portion the batter evenly among the 10 prepared muffin wells. The batter should be slightly mounded. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, then rotate the pan(s) front to back (and top to bottom as needed). Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until the muffin bottoms have darkened (twist a muffin out to check) and the tops spring back to the touch.
Place the muffin pan(s) on top of the stove and gently twist out the muffins, letting them cool on their sides halfway out of their individual wells; that will help keep them from becoming soggy.
These muffins are best eaten when fully cooled. If baked in the evening for the next morning, cool completely, then cover with a clean dish towel.
Adapted from a recipe in "Good to the Grain," by Kim Boyce with Amy Scattergood (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2010).
Tested by Samuel Fromartz.
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