Six Week Bran Cereal Muffins

I got a bit of an unpleasant surprise while reading cereal box ingredient lists at the store the other day.

Let me back-track for just a moment or two, though.  For years upon years upon years, drawing close to a decade and a half, I’ve been making a particular bran muffin.  More of a Bran-ish muffin really… Why Bran-ish?  Because it doesn’t fit in the normal bran muffin box.  It’s lighter both in color and gut-bombability than the average bran muffin, gently sweet and über-easy.  In fact, it’s simpler and more convenient than just about any other muffin in existence (aside from the ones you buy.) No cutting in of fats, no measuring ingredients with bleary eyes and un-caffeinated hands in the morning, no hungry children curled around your feet moaning while you try to rustle up breakfast*.  Mix your wet ingredients, mix your dry ingredients, mix them together and stash in the refrigerator for up to six weeks.  No joke.

*This recipe does not come with a guarantee that your children will wait patiently for the muffins.  Mine don’t.  I guess I should’ve just left that out.  I got carried away.  Please forgive me.

You may have encountered a version of this recipe before on the cereal box of a major breakfast cold-cereal manufacturer.  It’s been around for what seems like eons. But this is where my unpleasant surprise popped into play.

I grabbed a box of my normal All-Bran and perused the ingredient list.  HFCS.  Ack.  It’s presence had escaped my notice previously but once I know it’s there, I don’t buy*. I checked the store brand version.  HFCS.  I checked plain old bran flakes from all possible manufacturers.  HFCS.  Double Ack.  I decided to play around with other cereals… Fiber One didn’t have HFCS nor did the store brand version of Fiber One.  I opted for the store brand. Before you balk, Wegman’s (cue heavenly chorus singing the attributes of Wegman’s) store brands are almost always as good as or better than major manufacturer’s products.

*I am aware that educated people disagree on the matter of whether High Fructose Corn Syrup is a health hazard.  Good people can disagree.  I have read a great many research studies on the subject and decided that there is enough uncertainty to make me feel better eliminating as much of it from my family’s diet as possible.

I came home, mixed up my muffin batter and commenced griping my story to The Evil Genius.  He grabbed the box and said, “HFCS! Ha, just kidding.  But really?  There’s aspartame in here.”

Aspartame in cereal?  Seriously, Wegman’s?  EW. Leaving aside any health concerns that are presented by aspartame, let’s just talk taste.  It tastes chemically sweet. And not in a good way.

The muffin batter had already been mixed up, though, and I don’t waste, so we started baking anyway and hoped for the best. In a result that shocked no one, they were grossly and strangely sweet.  The thing I found curious was how the high-fiber cereal  didn’t break down at all after sitting in the refrigerator overnight or after baking.  When the muffins were pulled open, they looked like I had made the batter with dried cat food pieces. They were unappetizing, to say the least.  I know when I’m licked.

I decided that there were two options; find another all bran (small caps, not ™, thankyouverymuch) cereal or give up on these muffins.  My little local grocery store did not have anything I wanted to use but unsurprisingly, Amazon had an option; an HFCS/Aspartame-Free real bran cereal.  I took a leap of faith and ordered a package of six boxes.  And happy days, the cereal worked perfectly in the muffins.  No more cat-food, sickly-sweet aspartame muffins for us!

Why go to all the trouble for this muffin?  Well, if the convenience of having it ready to bake off in mere moments doesn’t convince you, maybe the flexibility will.  You can bake them plain, as is, with the batter straight from the refrigerator, or you can gussy them up a bit.  Stir in frozen blueberries, raspberries, other berries or fruits, sprinkle with raw sugar or leave unadorned.  Any way you choose, they’re the simple, perfect solution to a hot breakfast or afternoon snack.

Are you having trouble finding an HFCS or artificial sweetener free cereal?  Try our new favorite from Amazon. If you click on the link below and buy it from Amazon.com, we’ll get a very small commission.  It doesn’t change your price at all, but disclosure feels good.  Come on, gimme a hug.


Oh, and if you would like to save a bit on the cost, you can ‘Subscribe and Save’.  It takes 15% off the listed price and there’s automatic free-shipping, regardless of order total.  There’s no obligation past your one order; you can cancel ‘Subscribe and Save’ at any time.  I use it for our coffee, water filter replacements, coconut oil and other essentials.  And no. They’re not paying me to say this.  I just really, really like the service! How can you beat free delivery of things you need anyway?



Six Week Bran Cereal Muffins

Scroll to the bottom for an easy-print version of this recipe!

Gently adapted from the Kellogg’s All-Bran Muffins recipe
Yield: About 54 Plain Bran Muffins, or more than 60 Bran and Fruit Muffins or Chocolate Chip Bran Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 5 1/3 cups all-natural bran cereal (I recommend Nature’s Path Organic Smart Bran)
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 2 1/4 cups raw sugar (can substitute white granulated sugar if necessary)
  • 5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 4 cups buttermilk (You’re culturing your own right? No?  Try this dead-simple method.)
  • 1 cup neutral oil (like canola or vegetable oil)
  • 4 large eggs, beaten

Optional additional ingredients for baking:

  • frozen berries, small pieces of frozen stone fruits such as peaches or plums, or small diced apples or pears
  • chocolate chips
  • raw sugar for the muffin tops (You can use granulated white sugar if necessary.)

To prepare muffin mix:

In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir just until evenly moist. Scrape the muffin mix into a large container (of about 1 gallon capacity or larger) with a tight fitting lid.

Refrigerate for at least 8 hours before using. Label the container with the date the batter was mixed.

You can store and use the batter for up to 6 weeks.

To bake Plain Bran Muffins:

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Line muffin tins with paper sleeves or spray the muffin cups with non-stick cooking spray.  Fill the prepared muffin wells 2/3 full.  If desired, sprinkle lightly with raw sugar.

Bake for 15-20 minutes for standard sized muffins or 10-12 minutes for mini-muffins. Muffins are done when a straw, skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow muffins to rest in the tins for 5 minutes then gently turn out onto a cooling rack.

To bake Bran and Fruit Muffins or Chocolate Chip Bran Muffins:

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Line muffin tins with paper sleeves or spray the muffin cups with non-stick cooking spray.

Scoop the desired amount of muffin batter into a bowl and gently fold in your chosen fruit or chocolate chips.

Fill the prepared muffin wells 2/3 full.  If desired, sprinkle lightly with raw sugar.

Bake for 15-20 minutes for standard sized muffins or 10-12 minutes for mini-muffins. Muffins are done when a straw, skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. There may be some fruit juice on the skewer, but there shouldn’t be any sticky batter.

Allow muffins to rest in the tins for 5 minutes then gently turn out onto a cooling rack or towel.

Six Week Bran Cereal Muffins
Author: 
Recipe type: breakfast, bread, quick bread, snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 32
 
Muffin batter that throws together in minutes and is usable for six weeks?!? You bet! Have fresh muffins whenever the urge strikes when you have this on hand!
Ingredients
  • 5⅓ cups all-natural bran cereal (I recommend Nature's Path Organic Smart Bran)
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 2¼ cups raw sugar (can substitute white granulated sugar if necessary)
  • 5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 4 cups buttermilk (You're culturing your own right? No? Try this dead-simple method.)
  • 1 cup neutral oil (like canola or vegetable oil)
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • Optional additional ingredients for baking:
  • frozen berries, small pieces of frozen stone fruits such as peaches or plums, or small diced apples or pears
  • chocolate chips
  • raw sugar for the muffin tops (You can use granulated white sugar if necessary.)
Instructions
  1. To prepare muffin mix:
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir just until evenly moist. Scrape the muffin mix into a large container (of about 1 gallon capacity or larger) with a tight fitting lid. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours before using. Label the container with the date the batter was mixed. You can store and use the batter for up to 6 weeks.
  3. To bake Plain Bran Muffins:
  4. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line muffin tins with paper sleeves or spray the muffin cups with non-stick cooking spray. Fill the prepared muffin wells ⅔ full. If desired, sprinkle lightly with raw sugar.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes for standard sized muffins or 10-12 minutes for mini-muffins. Muffins are done when a straw, skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Allow muffins to rest in the tins for 5 minutes then gently turn out onto a cooling rack.
  7. To bake Bran and Fruit Muffins or Chocolate Chip Bran Muffins:
  8. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line muffin tins with paper sleeves or spray the muffin cups with non-stick cooking spray.
  9. Scoop the desired amount of muffin batter into a bowl and gently fold in your chosen fruit or chocolate chips.
  10. Fill the prepared muffin wells ⅔ full. If desired, sprinkle lightly with raw sugar.
  11. Bake for 15-20 minutes for standard sized muffins or 10-12 minutes for mini-muffins. Muffins are done when a straw, skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. There may be some fruit juice on the skewer, but there shouldn't be any sticky batter.
  12. Allow muffins to rest in the tins for 5 minutes then gently turn out onto a cooling rack.

Comments

  1. Did I miss the link to Amazon? I was going to buy the cereal and try these out and make my life simple, but I don’t think I saw the link to Amazon.

  2. What am I missing? I still can’t see the link to Amazon.

    Thanks for the recipe. Can’t wait to try it. Sounds like a great way to have a healthy, fast breakfast.

  3. I was just thinking I needed to mix up breakfast and these sound simple and healthy. It’s amazing that you can use the mix for 6 weeks. My kind of recipe.

  4. I started reading labels big time when Haley’s peanut allergy was diagnosed. And oh ya. HFCS is in EVERYTHING. I swear, it’s taken over the world. I read somewhere that it actually contains a chemical that causes cravings, which is why manufacturers use it. People eat more…people buy more.

    Well, you know it’s been well documented over at my place how much I love a good muffin. “…and stash in the refrigerator for up to six weeks.” Seriously?…printing.

  5. April in CT says:

    Absolutely can’t wait to make these!! We’re going on a few long road trips in the coming months and these would be a perfect stomach friendly treat to help counter act some of that nasty fast food I know will come into play. I’ll have to check our local health food store for a good bran cereal.

  6. If you are ever looking for a cereal free bran muffin recipe this one is pretty good.
    http://www.farmgirlfare.com/2007/02/back-into-bran-muffins.html

    actually I think I need to add that one to the muffin list on my fridge…

  7. For up to six weeks?! NEATO! So, that has me wondering if this can be adapted for a recipe without the bran cereal (to reduce costs, etc.)? Rebecca, have you played around with this 6 week recipe more? Example: A favorite of ours here are banana muffins, which I’m wondering now if I can make it’s usual base, omitting the bananas until just before baking. I’m not talking bran cereal, but adapting the six week concept to other muffins. Or is there something special I’m missing that makes it possible to store this for six weeks but not another recipe? Now that I explained that backwards and forwards about 3 times, I hope I made sense! LOL

  8. Whipped these up last night and baked some this morning! They are yummy! I made mini muffins with dried cranberries and raisins. The batter is thick after sitting overnight. Can’t wait to try these with diced apple inside and cinnamon sugar on top.

  9. April in CT says:

    So, I made these for our road trip and they were a total HIT! I cut the recipe in half and made half chocolate chip and the rest with dried cranberries and pecans. We were visiting family so it was nice to have them to snack on all week while there as well. They were well loved even by family members who wouldn’t normally touch anything that sounds anywhere near healthy. These were really easy to eat in the car and a much healthier option than the gas station temptations. I used Nature’s Path Bran with Flax and I didn’t have wheat germ so I substituted ground flax seed meal instead. These are going to be a constant in our household.

  10. This is very closel to a muffin recipe on the box of Hodgson’s Mill Wheat Bran, but doubled. Ingredients: Wheat Bran. The Hodgson’s Mill recipe can be multiplied also.

    http://www.hodgsonmillstore.com/en/Wheat-Bran-Unprocessed-Millers-Bran/71518-01018-001_Group.aspx

    I make this recipe all the time. You can add almost anything you can think of to this recipe and it will still turn out. Including various combinations of moist or dried fruit and nuts. I usually grate a large apple into this batter and do not need to compensate moist ingredients.

    I like to bake but you do not need to bake this recipe. I put about 1/2 cup of batter in a bowl with a pat of butter, and microwave it. On my microwave it doesn’t matter whether I use high power or baby it more with half power and longer time, so I microwave it for 1:45 on high. It is delicious and although different in appearance it is the same texture as a baked muffin.

  11. Good news….An FYI for you, you may want to check the All Bran again. I had craved these a couple of years ago, and gave up for the HFCS reason that you mention. Kellog’s must have gotten the message, I just bought a box and the only ingredients are; wheat bran, sugar, and malt flavoring. Just made these, using All Bran Original.

    • You have no idea how happy this makes me, Kathryn! I never thought I’d say this, but I can’t wait to go check out the labels on the bran cereal again!

  12. We also try to avoid HFCS (and certainly aspartame), and these look fantastic. But I’m a cookbook editor and self-avowed food safety nut, so I have to ask: Is it really safe to leave raw egg batter in the fridge for that long? It’s always been my understanding that once eggs are out of the shell, they have a few refrigerated days before they start having issues.

  13. For some reason, the comment I osted on May 15 says “Nancy recently posted..Photo Blogging 101, Part 1.” I neither added that line nor wrote that post. Not sure where it came from.

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