Baby Bran Muffins

Baby Bran Muffins Recipe

Today's bran muffin recipe comes from a gem of a cookbook I stumbled upon while browsing vintage books in an antique shop in Cambria, California. We drove through Cambria last week on our Hearst Castle adventure, and it just so happened that this particular shop had a disproportionate number of natural food volumes in their cookbook collection. One jumped right off the shelf at me, it had a wonderfully Rousseau-esque illustrated cover and was titled The New York Times Natural Foods Cookbook by Jean Hewitt.

At the time this book was published Jean Hewitt was the Home Economist of The New York Times. Her articles appeared regularly on the Food-Fashions-Family-Furnishings page, and in The New York Times Magazine. Jean became interested in cooking without highly processed ingredients while doing research for one of her Times articles. Many of the recipes featured in the book were contributed by readers - the newspaper conducted a 12-month search to find cooks and chefs who were experimenting and utilizing natural ingredients in interesting ways. The book features over 700 recipes and many of them are strikingly original, slightly quirky, and I'd bet a good percentage of them are delicious. Looking down at the book next to me, I've flagged the sunflower seed soup, macrobiotic super soup with buckwheat dumplings, dilled batter bread, and cottage cheese pancakes.

Back when the book was first published in 1971 natural foods seemed to have some public perception issues (not unlike today). The front cover flap reads, "...if you think natural food is all pumpkin seeds and molasses, this new cookbook from The Times will come as a delicious surprise." One of the selling points on the back cover, "food to serve with pride - and without apologetic pep-talks about being natural or "organic" or "good for you." As the saying goes - the more things change, the more they stay the same. I spend a lot of time explaining to people that natural foods aren't synonymous with "neatloafs" and sprouts.

bran muffin recipe
Cover detail - The New York Times Natural Foods Cookbook

I couldn't resist trying the bran muffin recipe - the gold standard by which healthy baking is measured. The original recipe was contributed to the book by Cynthia Hedstrom from New York, New York. I've updated it to account for different naming conventions and ingredient availability. This is classic bran muffin recipe and turns out hearty, substantial golden-crumbed muffins that are delicious hot out of the oven with a touch of butter and sprinkled with few grains of salt. They are made from a yogurt and whole wheat base batter using minimal butter, but I promise you - they can hold their own against more butter-rich alternatives.

All in all, a lucky find - eight dollars on a book very well spent. If you end up trying to buy a copy of it, be sure to look for one with the fantastic, colorful dust cover. I believe mine is a first edition, it is hardcover, published by Quadrangle Books, and 434 pages in length.

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Baby Bran Muffin Recipe

These bran muffins are delicious hot out of the oven with a touch of butter and sprinkled with a few grains of salt. They are made from a yogurt and whole wheat base with minimal butter and can certainly hold their own against their not-as-nutritious counterparts. Adapted from Bran Muffin recipe in The New York Times Natural Foods Cookbook published 1971.

2 cups white whole wheat flour OR stone ground whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups wheat bran
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
2 tablespoons raw natural cane sugar OR brown sugar
2 cups full fat yogurt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup honey, preferably a light honey such as clover
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup of add-ins of your choice - raisins, chopped dried fruit, nuts, etc (optional)

Preheat oven to 425F degrees, racks in the middle.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, wheat bran, salt, baking soda and sugar.

Beat together the yogurt, egg, honey, and butter in a second larger bowl. Add the dry ingredients and fold in until everything comes together. Fold in any optional add-ins, raisins, nuts, and the like. Resist overmixing.

Either grease a mini-muffin tin with butter or line the tin with small muffin papers. Fill each 3/4 full. Bake 10 -15 minutes, until muffins are golden on top and cooked through. You can also make larger muffins in a standard size muffin pan with this batter, you just need to bake them about 5 minutes longer.

Makes about two dozen tiny bran muffins or one dozen larger ones.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

  • They sound wonderful but I would like to see a nutritional breakdown. Was there one in the original recipe? I like to get "bang for my buck" so there has to be lots of fiber for the calories and fat!

    Jane
  • I have an idea...How about getting a large round pastry tip and inject jam or preserve in the center after baking.

    Della
  • I made a batch of these bran muffins tonight and they turned out great. Instead of making them mini-size muffins, Instead of butter, I used canola oil. I made them into standard-size muffins--11 muffins instead of 12 because I like a high dome muffin top. Bake them for 20 minutes and they look exactly like the photo, only larger. Eatem plain is just OK (tasted like a slice of wheat bran bread). I'm used to having more flavor in my bran muffin when eaten plain, but these are good with fresh ground peanut butter or fresh ground almond butter. I'm hoping that they will still taste good the next morning. We'll see! Do you think that wheat bran can be replaced with oat bran? Thanks for the recipe!

    Della
  • I have this book and have had it since the 1970's when my sister bought it. She used it for many years. Then I stole it from her and have used it for a few of the recipes. It is a great book. You got a good deal there and will enjoy it. I don't think I ever made the bran muffins. I'll have to give them a try.

    RisaG
  • These are tasty and very easy to make. However, my batch made close to 48 mini muffins. Perhaps I have a *really* small muffin pan?

    KM
  • These muffins sound incredibly good---I will make this weekend. The photo & post are both beautiful! Please keep sharing all of your cookbook finds.

    JEP
  • Where did you get those muffin liners? They are darling??

    mindy
  • What a find! And what a hoot - talking about organic food to serve with pride! I'll tack this one on my Alibris watch list... Or maybe I'm do for a treck to Hay-on-Wye...

    Katiez
  • So glad to have a great base recipe. I had a bran-muffin breakthrough a few weeks ago at a new bakery here in Chicago called Lovely. Their bran muffins were small (by today's ginormous bakery standards--probably just standard size) and jam-packed with plumped golden raisins and pineapple (which may have been cooked in sugar a bit before being added to the batter, as it wasn't wet, but almost jammy). On top was a sprinkling of homemade granola which contained bits of candied orange peel. Never before have I longed for a bran muffin like I did after that first time. I'm dying to reproduce these.

    Kate
  • The recipe looks great! Does anyone have a suggestion for a non-wheat substitution? Thanks!!

    tamara
  • This is why I love coming here. You're full of new ideas. Are they baked in Ferrero Rocher cases? They look great.

    Graeme
  • That's an impressively low amount of butter. I love hearing new muffin recipes - even my pathetic baking skills can stretch far enough to cope a batch of muffins!

    Sophie
  • Hana: the original recipe says a substitution could be 3/4 cup whole wheat bran, and 3/4 cup wheat germ. I think all wheat germ might taste kinda weird though, wonder what Heidi thinks?

    Jane
  • My mom bought this book when we all went to Hearst Castle. We've had the recipe from the book a few times, and it is fantastic! It's also so easily adaptable to whatever you have on hand! It's a great book, thanks for showing it off Heidi!

    Garrett
  • I too have long enjoyed this cookbook. I purchased the paperback version when it was new and now it shows signs of aging and use. In particular we enjoy the recipes for tabooley, Caesar salad dressing and the apple-oat crisp (to which I also add a little cheddar cheese). Since I believe it is out of print, find a used copy if you can!

    Karen
  • ps mphmphmph....actually methinks I got this in the 80's. It was an old book when I got it, and don't think i was much thinkin' about cooking in the 70's (still in school :-) That would explain the $1.25 shelf price!!!

    Jane
  • Hi, this may be a silly question, but can I use wheat germ to make these muffins instead of wheat bran? Are they very different?

    Hana
  • Blast from the past!!! I still have this cookbook on my shelf, bought it in the 70's and have never been able to part with it. Paid $1.25 for it at a used bookstore :-) The oatmeal griddlecakes (p.296) served with yogurt and honey...and the French toast (p.306) are great. I got this book when I was first learning to cook, really....also a wheat grinder, and my own 'tofu box' for making tofu :-)) Another wonderful old natural foods cookbook is 'Horn of the Moon' cookbook- their Tempeh Reuben Sandwiches are better than 'the real thing.' J

    Jane
  • Yum. I'm sold! Bran muffins and other baked goods are my measure of a fine natural foods cookbook (e.g. Laurel's Kitchen). Since I'm abroad I'll head to Powell's, Amazon, and eBay right now.

    Gado-Gado Misha
  • I too love finding old cookbooks in second hand stores, most recently The New Good Housekeeping Cookbook, "new" in 1963. I have yet to cook from it, but it has already provided lots of entertainment value. My favourite bran-type muffins are oat bran with banana and blueberry. I used to make the weekly when I was in university and there were a lot of people around to eat them!

    Joanna
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