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Uber Cranberry-Nut Bran Muffins

Cranberry Nut Bran MuffinsUber! Yes, super healthy and tasty. Every fall or winter I make a double batch of these muffins. I love the light molasses flavor with a bit of cranberry tang. The muffins have no added fat and are an excellent source of fiber—approximately 4.5g per muffin. The total fat per muffin is 3.3g which comes from the buttermilk, egg, nuts and whole wheat flour. And these muffins freeze well. I wrap them individually and place in large freezer bags, keeping 2-3 muffins in the fridge. On cold winter mornings, I pop one in the toaster oven for a few minutes, then savor the crisp exterior and soft inside.  My inspiration for this recipe came years ago from local colleague and prolific cookbook author, Lou Seibert Pappas.

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Cranberry-Nut Bran Muffins

Makes 15 medium muffins

1-3/4  cups wheat bran or oat bran
1         cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1         cup whole wheat flour
1/2      cup packed brown sugar
1-1/2   teaspoons baking soda
1/2      teaspoon salt
1/2      teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

2        cups low fat buttermilk
1/4     cup molasses
1         large egg

1-1/4  cups (6 oz.) frozen cranberries* or blueberries (do not thaw)
1/2     cup chopped dates or other dried fruit* (currants, dried plums, figs)
1/2     cup toasted walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts, chopped

– Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Grease muffin pans.
– In a large bowl, combine bran, flours, brown sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Blend thoroughly with a wire whisk, breaking up clumps of sugar with your fingers if needed.
– In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, molasses and egg; set aside.
– Prepare and measure fruit and nuts. Stir into flour mixture.
– Add buttermilk mixture and stir until just blended.
– Drop batter into each muffin cup, filling to the brim.  Bake 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove muffins to a rack to cool, or serve warm.

* Kitchen Notes:
Dried fruit:  Use more or less dried fruit, adjusting the frozen berries accordingly. The total should be about 2 cups fruit.  If using more dried fruit than cranberries, add a bit more buttermilk or muffins will be dry.  I use scissors to cut up large dried fruit.

Cranberries:  If using all frozen cranberries (no dried fruit) use 2/3 cup brown sugar. Large cranberries may measure 1-1/2 cups; just keep it close to 6 oz.
Buttermilk: This can be higher fat; it doesn’t matter. Low-fat cultured buttermilk varies from 2.5g to 4g fat per 1/2 cup.  Be sure to add perhaps 1/4 cup more buttermilk if using more than 1/2 cup dried fruit; this also depends on how dry the dried fruit is.
                                      Original recipe by Lou Pappas and adapted by Rita.  Photos by Rita.

Cranberry Muffins out of the oven

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  1. Posted January 10, 2014 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    These are so good Rita! At first I thought 1/4 cup molasses wouldn’t be enough (I like molasses) but it is just right. The muffins are not very sweet, so if sweeter muffins are preferred I suggest blueberries instead of cranberries which are quite tart. My cranberries seemed big, so I chopped some of them. I was glad you gave the 6 oz. measurement because frozen berries are hard to measure in cups. I also wondered why you didn’t use paper liners (I don’t like washing out cupcake tins) so I did some with and without papers. Since the muffin is so low fat it sticks a little to the papers, but not too badly. I’m looking forward to having some of these in the freezer!

    • Posted January 10, 2014 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      Glad you liked them, Rosie. For breakfast, I personally prefer less sweet muffins. And less sweet means more healthy. Same applies to low fat. And yes, low fat is why I don’t use paper baking cups; the paper pulls away too much of the muffin. And… that’s why I usually make a double batch; I use the muffin tins twice, but wash them just once. What dried fruit did you use?

      • Posted January 10, 2014 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        I used dates — I like the sweet with the cranberry tart. And dates have a nice melty texture when baked.

  2. Joan
    Posted January 15, 2014 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Wow…these make me hungry! Rita, they look like Mom’s bran muffins which I always loved. Have to try yours and make mom’s too. Think I have her recipe.

    • Posted January 15, 2014 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

      Joan, I found Mom’s Chewy Bran Muffins recipe!! It’s in the small hand-written recipe “binder” she gave each of us. Yeah!! I’m going to try it, substituting butter for the shortening. Mom’s note at the bottom of the recipe says: “Enjoy! Everyone does!”

  3. JoAnn Campisi
    Posted February 7, 2014 at 4:20 am | Permalink

    The bran muffins were awesome – the recipe made 14 large muffins (used two buttered ramekins for the excess)- they were moist and yummy. I used fresh blueberries, dried currants and toasted walnuts – the next time I make them I will add more nuts. Loved them! And love that I now have a batch in the freezer!

    • Posted February 7, 2014 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      Yes, more nuts is what I thought when I made the muffins last time. Glad to hear that varying the berries and dried fruit worked well. All this with not added fat! uber healthy