If these molasses bran muffins look like they’re not much of a departure from The Muffin That Started It All, they’re not. At first I thought I wouldn’t bother posting this recipe because it is so very similar to the original muffin recipe. But here’s the thing; not everyone is going to think of every variation. You may come up with an amazing variation on this recipe that I never would have thought of (and if you do, please email me!), and I make muffins frequently enough that chances are I may come up with a combo of flavours and textures that is new to your culinary repertoire.
Everyone is different in the kitchen. Some people use cookbooks and recipes merely for inspiration, while others follow recipes diligently step by step. My grandfather, who learned to cook in his 80’s, would adamantly refuse to turn the oven on the night before he baked something if the instructions said to start baking in a cold oven. He took cooking instructions really literally. That in mind, I decided not only to post this variation on the bran muffin, but I’ve got several others lined up as well. You have so many bran muffin varietals up your sleeves if you follow along, you’ll be regular for life.
For the base of these muffins I used roasted and pureed butternut squash. It’s got a great neutral flavour profile, and will add a lot of moisture to your muffins. It’s October, and the markets are filling with winter squash. I *love* winter squash. Every year I like to make a point of buying several large pumpkins around this time of year, roasting them, and freezing the pureed flesh in one cup portions. I use it as a base in muffins and loaves, in pasta sauces, fillings, the uses are endless. If you don’t have the time or the energy (or the intention) to roast and puree squash (any varietal will do), then used tinned pumpkin puree, which is easy to find at this time of year.
A couple of years ago we drove to the interior of BC for my uncle’s wedding at the end of September. Just outside Penticton we passed the markets, which had mountains of squash practically spilling out onto the highway. As we drove by, I told Paul that on the way home I was going to fill the trunk with squash. The next day, on the way back, we stopped at one of the markets. Paul went in one direction and stocked up on produce for the week, and I headed to the squash and filled a large shopping cart with two of every kind. It was like the Noah’s Ark of squash filled shopping carts – one of those big ones too, like what they have at Costo. Paul looked at me like I was a lunatic when we met at the checkout (and very likely said something along those lines), nevertheless, I filled the trunk with squash. That was late September, so it’s pretty safe to say that I also would have hit my favourite pumpkin patch on the Sunshine Coast and got a few more, and likely some at the farmer’s markets as well. I kept the squash on our balcony until it started to get very cold, and then moved it inside. Not one of those squash went bad.
This muffin is a molasses bran muffin. I used to put molasses in all of my bran muffins, but after years of daily molasses bran muffins, I felt like I needed a break. I think the problem was that I was using blackstrap molasses, which are really intensely molasses-ey. I used fancy molasses in these muffins, and the taste is much more subtle. Don’t let that stop you from using blackstrap if you enjoy the intensity.
I used dried figs as the fruit in these muffins. I snipped them into quarters using a pair of kitchen scissors, and gave them a nice soak in hot water before adding them to the muffins. I like the unexpected crunchy texture of biting into a fig and meeting all of the teeny seeds inside. I also like how the texture of a dried fig is a little jammy inside, especially after a nice hot water soak. If you don’t like figs, substitute another kind of dried or fresh fruit instead.
Molasses Bran Muffins With Figs Recipe:
If you don’t have the time (or plain old just don’t want to) to roast and puree squash, tinned pumpkin puree would work equally well. Most Canadian grocery store shelves are stocked with it at this time of year, it should be easy to find. This recipe makes 12 large bran muffins.
1 cup pureed roasted butternut (or any varietal) squash
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup fancy molasses
1 cup milk
1 cup water
3 cups wheat bran
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped dried figs
Preheat oven to 400 F. Prepare muffin tins. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over the chopped figs, and set aside to soak while you are mixing the muffins together. In a large bowl, combine squash, sugar, molasses, and eggs. Add milk, water, and bran, and stir to combine. Mix remaining dry ingredients together in a bowl – flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to the wet mix, and stir until just combined, careful to not over mix. Drain water off of the figs, and stir into muffin mix. Spoon into 12 muffin tins. Bake for 20 min.
All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2010