Naturally Sweetened Bran and Date Muffins
Most people, when they think muffins, what they have in mind is actually cupcakes… Let’s face it, most of the muffins that are being sold out there are nothing but giant cupcakes. They’re light and fluffy (and usually overly sweet and greasy) and hide under flavors that want to have you believe they are actually healthy; Flavors like blueberry, carrot, pumpkin, banana nut, cranberry/orange, lemon and poppy seeds, raspberry swirl, etc. And then you get the super honest varieties that let you know right off the bat who they truly are. We’re talking plain chocolate chip, chocolate chocolate chip, triple chocolate, peanut butter chocolate chip, white chocolate lemon… well, you get the idea!
Thing is in the end, though, they’re pretty much all one and the same…
Me, when I think muffin, the first thing that comes to mind is bran, or oatmeal. They’re my favorite kinds of muffins, and have always been, too, even when I was a teeny weeny little kid. Not only that, but to me, a muffin should not only taste good, but it should also be good for you. It should be dense, it should have a very substantial texture to it, it should feel hearty and nourishing when you bite into it. Needless to say I never cared for the cakey kind…
My top favorite muffin recipe of all times was for a bran muffin, and it was printed on the back of a container of natural wheat bran. When I was a kid, I used to make them ALL the time. ‘Cuz yeah, even as a kid, I would always favor baking from scratch over using boxes and mixes.
A little while ago, I got a craving for that particular recipe, so I bought a box of bran (much to my surprise, that recipe is STILL printed on the box) and decided to whip up a batch. Unsurprisingly, the original recipe called for sugar and oil, and lots of it. Oh well. I wasn’t about to let that stop me. All I had to do was tweak the recipe a little bit, to make it entirely naturally sweetened and a little less greasy without sacrificing the taste and texture. And while I was at it, I also decided to pimp my muffins up some and topped them with a dollop of silky date paste and also gave them a bit of an added crunch by throwing a little bit of chopped nuts in there, too.
You know what? Why of course you do… these naturally sweetened bran and date muffins turned out to be FAR superior to the originals, and that, in every possible aspect: they taste better, they look better, they have an amazing texture, and of course, are much better for you from a nutritional standpoint.
But again… don’t take my word for it. Why don’t you whip up your own batch and find out for yourself?
In a large mixing bowl, combine the wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix well with a flat whisk until evenly combined. Set aside.
While you’re at it, you might as well weigh / measure your wheat bran, buttermilk and molasses, and get your chopped dates and walnuts ready. Oh, and take a couple of eggs out of the fridge,too!
Then, in another large mixing bowl, combine the ghee and half a cup of date paste.
Beat the ghee and date paste on high speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes
Add the eggs and blackstrap molasses…
…and resume beating for about 1 minute, until very well combined and slightly lighter in color.
Now, add the bran and buttermilk
and beat on medium speed until fully incorporated.
Yeah, I know… the batter doesn’t look all that appetizing at this point. It does smell amazing, though!
Delicately stir in the dry ingredients, beating on low speed until just incorporated, no more.
Ha! That batter is already looking much better! But wait. We’re still not done…
Now time to delicately fold in the chopped dates and walnuts with a rubber spatula.
Divide the batter between 12 large muffin cups.
Since this is a fairly thick batter, I suppose you could make 6 to 8 jumbo muffins instead, if you wanted to. Although I haven’t tested it yet, I’m almost certain that it would work fine and fully intend to test it with the next batch I’ll be making.
If you end up trying it before I do, please let me know how it worked out!
But for now, let’s stick to the original plan… spoon about half a teaspoon of date paste over each of the 12 muffins…
You’ll end up needing about 1/4 of a cup in total.
and then sprinkle the muffins with a little bit of finely chopped walnuts.
The muffins are now ready to be baked in a 400°F oven and should be fully done in about 18 minutes.
Of course, if you chose to make bigger muffins, you’re gonna have to adjust that baking time accordingly…
Once the muffins are fully baked, let them cool for a few minutes in the pan and then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Store the finished muffins in a cool dry place and in an airtight container, where they will keep for about a week.
But before you do that, though, you HAVE to have one right now, while they’re fresh out of the oven. Because I don’t think there’s anything quite as good as a muffin that just got out of the oven.
The tops are all warm and crispy while the bottoms are super moist and tender… phenomenal!
As if that wasn’t enough, with these guys you also get to bite into that wonderful heart of soft, silky and sweet date paste as you get towards the center… yummers!
And that, right here, is definitely muffin heaven to me!
Naturally Sweetened Bran and Date Muffins
Wet Ingredients - Part II
- 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
- 2 large eggs
Wet Ingredients - Part III
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1-1/2 cup natural wheat bran
- 1/4 cup date paste
- 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix well with a flat whisk until evenly combined. Set aside.
- In a seperate bowl, combine the ghee and date paste and beat on high speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes
- Add the molasses and eggs and resume beating for about 1 minute, until very well combined, then add the bran and buttermilk and beat on medium speed until fully incorporated.
- Delicately stir in the dry ingredients, beating on low speed until just incorporated, no more, then fold in the dates and walnuts with a rubber spatula.
- Divide the batter between 12 large muffin cups, then spoon about half a teaspoon of date paste over each muffin and sprinkle with a little bit of chopped walnuts.
- Bake in 400°F oven for 18 minutes. Let the muffins cool for a few minutes in the pan then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Store in a cool dry place in an airtight container for about a week.