Wednesday, February 7, 2007

sour cream bran muffins

sour cream bran muffins

To celebrate my sister-in-law’s swearing in to the New York bar on Monday, we went to Blue Smoke for lunch. I ordered a pulled pork sandwiched stacked about as high as my chin, and in a frightening act of who-is-this-girl and what-did-you-do-with-Deb, finished all but one or two bites of it. Later, we (mercifully) spent some quality time at the gym, and at the exact moment that Alex said “Mmm… leftover applewood-smoked chicken for dinner!” I realized not only was I still full, I had the dreaded Meat Hangover.

winter fruit salad

We all detox differently. Some of us imbibe themselves with (I’m sorry, somewhat frightening) Master Cleanses for weeks on end, others eschew breads, starches or noodles for as long as they can keep away, and a good lot of us chug water and chomp crudites till the bad feelings pass. But my Meat Hangover, like all of my other afflictions, came with very specific instructions: fruit salad, yogurt and whole grains, and I was too glutted to argue.

Unfortunately, it’s just not fruit salad season, but deciding to throw my food mile-related guilt to the wind, I grabbed one of everything that looked edible. The grocery gods must have been smiling on me that day, because even blackberries were marked down to two dollars. I also had the great pleasure of buying Liberté yogurt for the first time, and it just might be the best thing since Total, so thank you to whomever whispered that brand name in my ear.

winter fruit salad

When it came time to make bran muffins, however, I most embarrassingly became one of those reviewers on Epicurious that changes everything (“I replaced the cornmeal with Fritos and sugar with Splenda and cheese with skim milk, and I have to say, this recipe is terrible!”) yet expects similar results. Realizing I only had super-fancy butter left in the apartment, stuff I’ve been saving to make shortbread, I replaced the butter with oil. I exchanged yogurt for sour cream, because, it’s also what we had around, and swapped the raisins with dried cranberries because my husband, although he is wrong, has some strange issue with raisins I dare not to delve into the psychology of. Then, as if I had not maligned the recipe’s original intent enough, I added a quarter-teaspoon of cinnamon, to warm up the flavor.

Fortunately, this muffin is a winner, no matter how hard you try to wreck it. Lighter and fluffier than any bran muffin that has previously graced my palate, it’s moist but still structured and not the least bit cake-like (a muffin no-no, in my book). I baked them in brioche molds — to counter my ongoing guilt about buying the tins over six months ago and using them for everything but their initial purpose — resulting in a pretty, ruffled treat. And just like that, my meatover dissipated. Just in time, really, as I’ve just heard about this Dinosaur BBQ place, and must have my way with it soon.

bran-cran muffins

Sour Cream Bran Muffins
Adapted from Gourmet, October 1991

Makes 12 muffins

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened or 1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, beaten lightly
1 cup sour cream or yogurt
1/4 cup dark molasses
1/2 cup raisins, cranberries, or other diced dried fruit
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup miller’s bran (available at natural foods stores, specialty foods shops, and some supermarkets)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the butter or oil and the brown sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy (will be far less light or fluffy if oil is used), beat in the egg, the sour cream or yogurt, and the molasses, and stir in the raisins or other dried fruit. In a bowl whisk together the flour, the baking soda, the salt, the cinnamon (optional) and the bran, add the mixture to the sour cream mixture, and stir the batter until it is just combined. (The batter will be lumpy.) Spoon the batter into 12 well-buttered 1/3-cup muffin tins and bake the muffins in the middle of a preheated 400°F. oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are golden brown and springy to the touch. Turn the muffins out onto a rack and let them cool.


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