18 February 2009

I Know the Muffin Man

"The Muffin Man" was always a favorite song in my house growing up. I'm not sure why, because (contrary to popular belief) I wasn't raised in Victorian England, and no one was prancing down the lane delivering fresh baked goods.

But there were always plenty of muffins at home, thanks to our dear friend Thomas. I have yet to make my own English muffins, but I do make plenty of American-style ones. And in an attempt to soothe the savage sugar cravings, I decided on a variety, originally from Martha Stewart Living, that can actually be called healthy. The sweet comes more naturally from applesauce and dates, two of my favorite foods.

Now I really do sound like I was born in 1890.

Applesauce Oat Bran Muffins
Makes: 1 dozen.

2 cups unsweetened applesauce
2 ounces dates, pitted and chopped (1/2 cup)
1 cup wheat bran
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons honey
3/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon old-fashioned oats

1. Heat oven to 375°. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin with oil. Place applesauce and dates in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture is reduced to 1 1/4 cups, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

2. Transfer applesauce to a large bowl, and stir in bran, buttermilk, egg, honey, ginger, and vanilla. Let stand for 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, whisk together flour, flaxseed, baking soda, salt, allspice, and 1/4 cup oats. Stir into bran mixture.

4. Spoon batter into prepared tins, filling to the brims. Sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon oats over muffins. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center of 1 comes out clean, 21 to 23 minutes. Let cool completely in pans on wire racks.

These muffins aren't cupcakes-disguised-as-breakfast- whose ubiquity here I still blame on the incomprehensible glorification of Sex and the City and Magnolia bakery- so don't expect that sort of saccharine-fueled mental or dental decay.

Rather, they're full-flavored, spicy and moist, rendering any jam or butter completely unnecessary. Eating one will make you feel virtuous, but not in an annoying way- more like in a Little House on the Prairie way.

And you get to one-up those rusted-pot coffee-drinking pioneers by pairing it with mao jian ($4 per ounce), which may be the first Chinese green tea I could grow to love. It has a light, natural sweetness as opposed to the earthy flavor of many Chinese greens, and a soft edge of floral notes, like a strong white tea.

And I'm loathe to admit it, but mao jian would probably go equally well with a cupcake.


Anonymous said...

My dad used to pay me 50 cents to make him a batch of 24 bran muffins. He ate, like six of them a day for a year or two. I haven't tasted one since, but my love affair with fiber tells me that I should get back on the wagon. This recipe sounds like a winner!

Anonymous said...

Hm. Or would that be off the wagon?

Veri-Tea said...

Ha ha, whenever I hear about the Muffin Man it always makes me think of Shrek... :)

Snow-globe said...

victorian england is your spirit time period. and did someone say polka dotta rusted pot? apple juice tea....

Anonymous said...

And what is the Muffin Man's address?


Anonymous said...

MM's address is dullberry lane

ana dane said...

it's drury lane, thank you very much.

and i don't know if i would want to be in the same house as someone who could eat a half dozen bran muffins. that could get dangerous.

Dazy said...

These muffins are awfully mouth-watering! And would keep me busy in the kitchen, again. My cousins are going to visit our place next week. I think this would be just perfect for them.

Mo said...

I came across this post on Tastespotting (I think) over a year ago; I wrote down the recipe, made it many, many times, and then lost it and have been trying to find this post for a while now.
So, this is way late but these muffins are fantastic! I make them with white-whole wheat flour, and sometimes oat bran (because I misread the title and bought oat bran specifically for this recipe), and every single variation I've made of these have been *so* delicious. :)