Sweet little Claire came to visit for a few days. She’s nineteen months old. And, she’s a muffin monster.
Since my two sons were toddlers, I’ve been making mini-muffins for tiny hands. For Claire’s time at Mimi’s house, I made big-guy brans (my son’s hands are much larger now) and baby brans for Claire. She had baby brans for breakfast with a small yogurt and strawberry puree parfait. She liked the muffins much better than the parfait. At snack time, she nibbled a muffin. Someone placed one baby bran in a bowl for Claire. She set it on a small table just her height. Between carefully placing a few pegs in her pegboard, talking on her cell phone (an empty dental floss container) and reading a few pages of one of her books, she would make a trip to the small table to take a bite of her baby bran.
You can see those baby brans in the photo on my last post with the lemon curd parfaits. The recipe I use for bran muffins, clipped from a newspaper, has been in my file for many years. They are the moistest bran muffins I’ve ever eaten. I’ve been using mostly organic ingredients in my bran muffins these days. The Farmers’ Creamery organic cultured 2% buttermilk I’ve discovered at my local food co-op is amazing for baking. It seems to make everything lighter and tastier.
These bran muffins are not just for little muffin monsters. My husband says they are his favorite. He loves it when I bake up a batch, wrap each muffin individually, then put them all into a freezer bag. In the morning, he can take one out of the freezer and by the time he gets into the car to head to work, it becomes a breakfast on the go. Perfect with a cup of coffee. Claire’s dad likes them, too.
I like to split a warm bran muffin in half and top it with fresh rhubarb sauce. Oh, I can’t wait for the rhubarb to be ready to harvest.
And, I can’t wait for the next time Claire comes to visit.
She’s a curious explorer.
She finds that an old picnic basket is just the right size to sit on while having a snack.
Mimi’s healthful dip made of cashews and yes, jalapeno peppers with lots of other good stuff is a pretty yummy snack, too.
But those bran muffins….mmmmmmmmm, mmmmmmmm.
Bran Muffins for Babies and Big-Guys
- 3 cups bran cereal (In the past I’ve used All Bran, but I’ve recently been using bran flakes that I buy from the bulk containers at my local food co-op, crushing them slightly)
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into chunks
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1/2 pound of chopped dates
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
Pour boiling water over bran cereal and butter chunks in a large mixing bowl. Stir until butter is melted and all cereal is soft with moisture. Add sugar and eggs and mix. Stir in buttermilk. Add chopped dates and mix. Sift flour, baking soda and salt and stir into batter, mixing just until all dry ingredients disappear. At this point, batter can be covered and stored in refrigerator for up to one week.
When you are ready to bake the muffins, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease muffin tins. Spoon batter into each muffin cup until 3/4 filled. Bake standard-sized muffins for about 15 to 18 minutes. Begin checking near the end of the baking time. Tops of muffins should spring back when lightly pressed with your finger. Miniature muffins will bake in about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool in tins for a few minutes. Use a table knife to run around the edges of each muffin to loosen from pan. Carefully transfer each muffn to a wire rack to cool.
These muffins freeze well for up to one month. Makes about 18 standard-sized muffins.