a-meatover-and-a-muffin Recipes

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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78 comments on sour cream bran muffins

  1. Dinosaur is wonderful. It started in Syracuse and then expanded to Rochester, NY, where I became acquainted with it. It is really yummy. I miss it terribly now that we have moved to the Midwest.

    I just discovered your blog and I am, indeed, smitten.

  2. I’m a huge fan of bran muffins and raisins, so any recipe that puts those two together will be high on my list. And a recipe that cannot be destroyed by endless substitution? That one will be at the top of my list!

  3. Oooh, Blue Smoke. I was there on my last trip to NY. I will be back!

    I’ve done the cleanse. I know it sounds crazy, but you really do feel better on it. I don’t do it for weight loss, I do it to purge some of the crap out of my body. Uh, literally.

  4. OMG – Liberté yogurt! My FAVE!

    Have you tried thier Muësli (thir vanilla yougart with granola, that you mix together just before you eat it)? I had my first taste a few months ago, and i’ve been addicted ever since.

    The chocolate granola one is my favourite, but the apple raisin one is pretty good too! (there ar 4 flavours in all). Whatever you do, DON’T mix them up with thier mini mixes coz those arn’t as good.

  5. I read “meatover” and saw those bran muffins and thought “Deb made little muffin meatloaves? No way.”

    I was wrong, thank goodness, because what I said above? That’s just wrong.

    The fruit pictures are lovely – what kind of shiny black background is that? I can see a slight reflection in the second one.

  6. I can’t believe you’ve been to Syracuse and never went to Dinosaur BBQ – it’s the ONLY thing worthwhile in the whole town – and I used to live there…GO THERE NOW!!!

  7. Very funny and oh, so true about the reviewers on Epicurious and the changes they make while reviewing a recipe negatively.

    The fruit salad picture (the closer shot) is complete and total eye candy. Lovely.

    Also, congratulations to your sister-in-law!

  8. The muffins are so cute…though I’m glad I’m not alone in wondering if you made meatloaf muffins lol.

    I’m with Alex on the raisins; however you can start a support group with my husband, who cannot grasp my various deep seated issues with certain foods ; )

  9. I absolutely love the second photo down – so gorgeous, and I kind of want to plaster it (very large) on the side of my fridge: a reminder of all things healthful and delicious!!!

    I am also a huge huge fan of Liberté yogurt. Happened on it randomly, and I have decided that its flavor is unbeatable. I especiallly like 2% plain stirred with trappist preserves – I don’t think I’ve liked any other yogurt flavor better than that. (Though for texture, the thick richness of Fage greek yogurt sometimes hits the spot). One of these days I’ll mix the best of both worlds and drain the Liberte through a cheesecloth.

    ANYWAY… I can’t wait to try this muffin recipe! It looks wonderful and is definitely going on my To Cook list. My favorite banana bread recipe is 50% bran and I swear it’s even better with the bran than with flour

  10. I’m definitely going to make those muffins, if I can find the bran!

    Rachael Ray has been making those meatloaf muffins for quite awhile now (Deb probably knows this). I’m not sure how I feel about that, but I’m not a meatloaf fan.

  11. I’m making these this weekend! Hmmm! Bran is definitely the best way to boost your fiber intake!!! However, I’m gonna substitute the butter/oil for unsweetened applesauce. I always use this trick in all my muffin recipe to lower their fat content and get excellent results!

  12. You MUST try Dinosaur BBQ, I agree it’s the only worth while thing is Syracuse but I used to frequent the one in Rochester. I have yet to try the NYC version, but I am sure it is equally as good. The pulled pork is my favorite, though the ribs are fabulous too.

  13. Mrs. Chicken — Thank you! I’m sorry we’ve missed Dino BBQ before. We actually biked by it several times this summer (I believe it’s where the Hudson River Park bike path breaks off for several blocks, part of the detour) but obviously missed a great opportunity. Should winter ever end (arguable, it seems, this week), we’ll be back up there.

    Jenifer — I looove raisins. I still even love those tiny little boxes that you used to get trick-or-treating at all the boring, healthy, no-fun houses. I never realized they were so unpopular! I’d be lost without them in my cereal, Raisin Bran, oatmeal…

    Lydia — Try as I did, this recipe is difficult to break. Next, I’d love to mash a banana into it, also.

    Beth — When I first read about the cleanse a couple months back, I admit it sounded very intriguing, or at least tasty, but I find no logic in skipping meals unless you are not hungry. Ah well, to each their own.

    i *heart* food — I bought the strawberry only to come home and find out it had 8 percent milkfat! Over 200 calories! Mon dieu! I hadn’t even thought to check, seeing that these days it’s hard to find yogurt with fat (or real sugar) in it most places. It tasted like dessert. The 2% plain was much more my style.

    Abby — Muffin meatloaves? I’m sorry: shudder! The background is our coffee table which my husband so kindly polishes often. I just put my feet up on it.

    Dani — I can’t believe that I’ve been to Syracuse and there was something redeemable there that we missed. Deep regrets. Truthfully, we’ve only become Chowhounding vacationers (if you could have called that trip a vacation) in the last couple years, starting with our second trip to Paris and then Maine. It’s changed the things we eat and do when we’re away dramatically for the better.

    Speaking of, ever been to Savannah? Charleston? Anyone? We need ideas. ;)

    Julie — Thank you!

    nyjlm — Perhaps we can also create one for people who don’t like sweet and savory together (Alex again), tofu (Alex), plum desserts (ditto), marzipan (you get the idea). Of course, there aren’t enough therapists in the world to address my endless food nonsense.

    Rachael — I love the idea of banana bread with some bran in it. Maybe I’ll adjust mine soon to try that. (I made another recipe, which I’ll get to soon, with bran in it so I’ve been trying to figure out how to use up this giant bag without eating just muffins all the time, not that I’d really mind.)

    Tammi — Meatloaf muffins? I had no idea I’d trigger such strong associations. I’ve never heard of them, then again, I tend to tune out whenever someone says meatloaf lest they’re singing “paradise by the dashboard light.” ;)

    Ashley, FueLYouRBoDy — Do you replace the sugar, too? Just curious.

    Valerie — Soon, soon! I can’t wait to bike up there in warmer weather.

  14. Deb – how funny that you’ve found the Dinosaur. It’s a Syracuse institution, and it was Syracuse that got me reading you! A couple of years ago I was bored in the Cuse and googled Syracuse and found you – you were there for a possible job, right? (and got a spur of the moment haircut, if I remember correctly). I’ve been reading your blog ever since – and you’ve inspired me to start cooking “for real” (last night was a beef biryani). So, hi, and thanks for all you do!

  15. My BF introduced me to the wonder of Dinosaur BBQ. He’s a Syracuse native and the other worthwhile thing to come out of that city. When he found out that there was another location in Harlem he all but flew there, with me in tow. BEST BBQ IN THE CITY HANDS DOWN. It is your duty as a New Yorker to review it on this blog. Hehe.

  16. Deb – to answer your question, I won’t replace the sugar. I’ll have to try it first but I think your recipe is probably not too sweet (1/4 cup brown sugar + 1/4 cup dark molasses). I’ll give you my feedback! ;)

  17. Hi, Deb,
    Funny you mentioned Charleston and Savannah. I would recommend the same dish at the same restaurant in both cities. Whole flounder with apricot shallot glaze at Garibaldi’s. They score the fish on both sides into bite size pieces, lightly batter and deep fry. You finish one side and then flip it over and enjoy the other side. It is a house specialty and we love it.
    Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House in Savannah serves family style southern comfort food and is quite a trip – you bush your own dishes……….. It is a legend. I almost hesitate making recommendations to someone that has the restaurant choices you do but I think you would like these as something different.

  18. Deb – I found you through “Bonfires” and love your site. I live in Charleston, and I promise you’ll be hard pressed to find a more fabulous food town. Charleston Grill, FIG, Al di La, The Wreck, Momma Brown’s Barbecue, the coconut cake at Peninsula Grill – gah! Too many restaurants to list. Fortunately the city is wonderfully “walkable”, so there’s no need for any guilt at all. Come on down and eat yourself into a fabulous food coma.

  19. I just came across your site recently and am ravenously devouring your inspiring posts, pictures, and recipes. These muffins will be Saturday breakfast. While you’re in Charleston, I recommend FIG, Hominy Grill, the coconut cake at the Planters Inn (their restaurant is the Peninsula Grill), and a few loops around the Battery to walk it all off. :) Have a great time.

  20. Deb – Dinosaur? I think I am the only person ever to live in NYC and think Dinosaur BBQ was disgusting. That being said, I’m from Kansas City originally, and we’re incredibly particular about our barbecue!

    I love Virgil’s in Times Square (one of two reasons for me to ever really want to go there) as well as Rub on 23rd St. (23rd and 8th or so, I believe…) Both are absolutely fantastic. I never went to Blue Smoke, and I kick myself for that all the time… at least I made a trip back to my KC home recently to get my barbecue fix!

  21. I was just having a conversation today about people who change recipes completely and then give it a bad review. I’m all for tweaking recipes, like you did and I’m so happy you had great results. Hope they do the trick :)

  22. Deb,
    My daughter is in the last clinical months of a Nurse Anesthesia program and has to spend long hours commuting and standing in the OR’s of various hospitals and I am always looking for something healthy that she can grab and go with- I will definitely try these muffins. I am glad that they weren’t actually made of meat!

  23. I had never heard someone so perfectly go on about a meatover. And I love that yours demands a certain remedy! It made me giggle. Too much wine can mean different things to different people, some need the big breakfast. Me? I start craving orange juice in the middle of the night, and then again when I wake up. I generally guzzle a few glasses and then I am good to go! I love hearing foodover nuances!

  24. For the banana bran substitution, I literally just go 50/50 on the flour vs bran, though I make mine with yogurt (very moist to begin with), and I measure my flour and bran to do it by weight not volume (white flour = 120g/cup, wheat = 140g/cup I think). I keep meaning to make a post about the banana bran bread recipe I like but haven’t gotten around to it yet!

  25. Deb,

    I totally relate to your husband’s strange feelings towards raisins – they’re not my favorite thing in the world, either. :S

    I think your muffins look fantastic and it’s great to know variations that actually work for the recipe.

    P.S.: Those blackberries look amazing – so big and the color is beautiful!

  26. You have to know that it’s posts like this one that won you that funniest food blog award! Meatover…corn meal with fritos…I’m giggling to myself and my cat is looking at me like I’m crazier than he already thought I was…

  27. Deb, could you please post (or e-mail me) the recipe for the 1-2-3-4 cake? I know what the 1-2-3-4 is for, but is there any baking soda/powder in it or anything else?

    jess (jessica dot diettrich at gmail dot com)

  28. Dino BBQ!!! I am currently a Rhode Island girl but spent a number of years out in Rochester NY where I fell in love with Dino BBQ (and Tip Top diner, Nick’s garbage plate, and Wegmans…). I miss Dino BBQ. Especially in the summer when all the bikers come out.

    I recently found your blog – it definitely has me smitten. Please keep on. :)

    Best
    Claire

  29. Just discovered your website. Awesome–(sorry, but I am a Californian)! Could you share your” cleanse”. NEVER did one. Sorry, don’t visualize.
    Thanks

  30. I have to add another (2nd maybe?) dissenting voice against Dinosaur. I currently live in Rochester NY but moved here after living in Nashville for four years. Dinosaur is only OK as far as BBQ goes and it tries too hard to authentic (decor and menu) and misses the boat while its at it. There is at least one place in Rochester (Sticky Lips) that has more authentic BBQ – and better prices to boot!

    I wouldn’t say don’t go, just don’t make a special trip out of it.

  31. Hi Deb,
    just made the bran muffins, and I guess I should have known that a mixture with serious bran content and raisins would be too heavy for paper cup-cake cases to withstand. I’ve just moved to Scotland and my new place isn’t quite as replete with baking equipment as I’m used too, hence no muffin tray. Oh well, you live and learn, they were tasty and not too sweet, even if they did resemble really big, soft bran-raisin cookies!!

  32. Just wanted to let you know I just made these muffins and my husband couldn’t wait to eat one – even with dried blueberries in them which is his least favorite fruit (dried or otherwise). This clearly shows how delicious the muffins turn out. Thanks for sharing!

  33. Hahahaha, well observed. I hate those people on allrecipes who, like, replace the cream with skim milk or “fat-free half-and-half” (which is just skim milk with chemicals and coloring) and then complain about the result not being creamy enough. What makes things creamy, people?? FAT! Anyway, these muffins look deeelicious. But I won’t have time to make them ’til I finish moving…and like you, I’m going from a small kitchen to a tiny kitchen – literally zero counterspace built into it. Ay yi yi…

  34. i made these with whole millet instead of fruit–i’m not a big fan of fruit in my bran muffins, but i thought they’d be too boring plain–the millet added a nice lively crunch! i just tossed in about 1/4 cup or so (raw) where you’d otherwise add the raisins.

  35. I made these last night with yoghurt instead of sour cream, grated apple instead of raisins and a topping of thinly-sliced apple with porridge oats mixed with a bit of demerara sprinkled on top. They were delicious.

    After I made them, though, I had a thought – I used black treacle instead of molasses but what is the actual UK equivalent? It made my muffins very…treacly. Maybe I should I have used (what we call) golden syrup. We do have molasses over here but you don’t see it too much nowadays.

    Anyway, regardless of these quibbles, they were lovely and I will be making them again! I’m thinking of an apple and ginger combo for the winter months.

  36. Wonderful tasty muffins. Made it with butter, and it was divine.
    Then I had some applesauce to finish, so I replaced the butter with canola oil in my head, and then said: oil can be replaced with applesauce. So I swapped ~3/4 of the applesauce for the oil, and left ~1/4 of oil in the recipe out of guilt.
    Swapped chopped dried apricots for the raisins (didn’t have raisins nor cranberries), dialed back a notch on the baking temp and baking time, and ended up with very moist and delicious muffins.
    Did you know this recipe is that unbreakable?

  37. Plum walnut liberté is fabulous, but so is the blackberry…. With a fat content as high as liberté méditeranée anything is good.

  38. This recipe turned out really well. My boyfriend has already inhaled three of them since I made them this morning. I used vegetable oil, 2% Greek yogurt, and a combo of currants and dried cranberries for the fruit. Fabulous!

  39. I made these again this weekend. I replaced half of the yogurt with a mashed banana. They aren’t quite as rich, but they’re still very tasty.

  40. I tried these with honey in place of molasses, since I didn’t have any molasses on hand. I dialed the sugar down to a scant 1/4 cup, and they turned out fabulous! I made them as mini muffins and they baked up puffed and perfect in 10 mins.

  41. I make meatloaf muffins all the time! I invented them, though I’m sure I’m not the first, when i wanted to freeze single portion meatloaves but didn’t have a mini-loaf pan.

  42. Hi Deb –
    I’m a somewhat new fan to your site – been enjoying your recipes for about six months now – thank you for sharing your passion and expertise! I just made these tonight and I used 1/4c oil, 1/4c applesauce, non-fat plain yogurt, no raisins, half ww flour/half ap, an extra 1/4 t of cinn, and oatmeal instead of bran. I wanted them to be able to go with a meal of chicken noodle soup. they came out really great! Like really great. Fluffy, and moist, and chewy, and great flavor with the molasses and oatmeal. Anyway, in case anyone likes to know how people have adapted the recipes – I wanted to share!
    Thanks again!
    p.s. I’ve also made meatloaf muffins before and they are a great hearty lunch element on the go. :)

  43. Dear SK,
    You rock. When I’m totally bogged down with Uni homework I love to escape into the recipes and photos of your site. I have the bran muffins in the oven right now. I invented my own topping- b.s., pecans, cinnamon, orange zest. We’ll see how that goes.
    Thanks!

  44. Dumb question: does miller’s bran mean something different than wheat germ? Their different names suggest that they do. What if I substituted wheat germ? Would it be way too heavy? I love wheat germ pancakes, but you only use 1/4 c or something in those. Anybody know?

  45. Have been baking my way through Joanne Chang’s Flour cookbook, and these bran muffins are almost identical to hers except that she uses NO oil or butter. An extra half cup of creme fraiche/yogurt moisture but otherwise the same recipe. They are light and truly delicious — I never would have thought you could skip the butter or oil, but truly you can.

  46. Note for anyone else scared to break the unbreakable recipe, I made these yesterday with honey in place of molasses and slightly dialed down the brown sugar to compensate — delicious. Yoghurt (2% Liberte) instead of sour cream, dried cranberries instead of raisins. These are so light and fluffy but still perfectly muffin-y, just nothing at all like the rock-hard institutional breakfast muffins I normally associate with bran muffins.

  47. Have made these numerous times to rave reviews. Ran out of molasses and am using Maple Syrup. I once substituted with Lyle’s Golden Syrup

  48. I made these in 20 minutes, including baking time, using a whisk instead of an electric mixer and applesauce instead of oil. Oh and I used Bob’s Red Mill High Fiber Hot Cereal, which tastes like sawdust if you eat it as intended, instead of Miller’s Bran. I love the results!

  49. I’m curious if flax seed meal can substituted for bran, which of course defeats the whole bran muffin concept. But before I run out to buy bran, I thought I would use the flax in my pantry. I also wanted to add that being a little slow about these things, I only just “discovered” you about a month and a half ago, and have made nearly 20 things since then. All a huge hit – a renaissance in my kitchen. Thanks!

  50. I made these using oil, adding a hefty 1/3 c. of chia seeds and using a combo of non-fat sour cream, non-fat Greek yogurt and buttermilk (let’s call these “cleaning out the ‘fridge muffins,” shall we?). What a great, moist, non-oily, beautifully-textured muffin. The brand-new mama to whom these were delivered was totally wowed by them — as was her visiting brand-new-aunt of a sister. I made 14 total (and tasted one for purely research purposes) and baked them for 17 minutes; they get brown quickly toward the end, so keep a watchful eye. Am making them again today so I can keep some for my own household. Loved ’em!

  51. I just made these with two small bananas, and only 1/2 cup of sour cream. Oh, and I only had 6 TBS of butter. They are so delicious! I think next time I’m going to try adding blueberries.

  52. Just made these with oil, full-fat Greek yogurt (though in retrospect I probably could have used applesauce instead of oil with all of the butterfat in there), blackstrap molasses for extra iron, and dried cherries, and they were delicious – nice and moist on the inside, a little crispy like a bran flake on the outside. Hopefully they’re really as good for me as they seem!

  53. What an amazing bran muffin recipe! Incredible fluffy texture… so light you forget it’s bran. Am eating one straight from the cooling rack. I used butter and a half-and-half combo of light (5%) sour cream and full fat (9%) Greek yogurt. Only had blackstrap molasses on hand, so cut it by about 1/3 with corn syrup… flavour is still strong so I might cut to half and half next time. In any case, this recipe will no doubt be in high rotation from now on. Thank you Deb!

  54. Hi Deb,

    I have something called “100% Natural Wheat Bran”. Can I use this instead of Miller’s Bran in this recipe? Does the type of bran make a big difference?

  55. I know that I’m years behind, but I just made these. They are amazing. I actually subbed 1/2 applesauce for butter and used 1/2 white whole wheat flour. Oat bran instead of wheat. Delicious.

  56. Is it possible to substitute fresh fruit for the dried? Would I need to dial back on other wet ingredients? Not a huge fan of dried fruit and the fresh berries are so delicious right now. Thanks!!

    1. Annie — Absolutely. The bigger concern is that heavier fruit may sink, but the only way to find out is by trying. It will still taste delicious.

  57. Deb,

    Hi! Thanks for your recipe. I was wondering what would the muffins be like if I added blueberries? I would imagine I’d have to cut back on moisture (sour cream) elsewhere if I added blueberries instead of raisins…

  58. These were very good. I made them a bit differently, though. I combined the dry ingredients, then the wet ingredients (I used oil), and folded together. I would add a bit more sugar next time as they weren’t terribly sweet, but they were very moist with a nice rich flavor.

  59. I haven’t made these yet (just clicking through “Surprise me!”) but thank you for a bran muffin recipe that doesn’t use something like All-Bran!

  60. Just made these using coconut oil and Straus Creamery greek yogurt, and they are to DIE for. Another Smitten Kitchen win!

  61. At my favorite bulk food source, they have chopped dates lightly coated with whole wheat flour so the aren’t a big gummy mess (and I don’t have to chop them. They are divine in bran muffins.

  62. I made these this weekend, after looking at the other bran muffin recipe on your site. These were the better ‘starter’ muffin, and turned out delicious. Although my husband did feel their effects after eating 4 in 1 day…. TMI? Or bran-hazard? I will be making and eating them again soon!!