Gingerbread Bran Muffins with Orange Crumb Topping

bran muffin 1

There are good bran muffins and a lot of really bad ones. This is a great bran muffin. It’s sweet, moist and full of rich flavors with out a bunch of unnecessary ingredients like raisins or nuts. It’s no wonder that bran muffins have a bad reputation with all the bad versions out there. I’ve had one too many raisin filled, nutty even carrot filled dry and boring bran muffins. I stay away from them most of the time. The exception is my dad’s bran muffin recipe. They are everything you want in a breakfast bread. They are warm, sweet and taste great slathered in orange marmalade.

My version is heavily influenced by his recipe, but mine are in disguise as a gingerbread muffins. They are full of all the holiday spices that are so warm and comforting this time of year. As a nod to my father’s orange marmalade accompaniment, I’ve topped them with an orange crumb. The topping makes the muffins strikingly attractive and tastes pretty fantastic too.

My dad always uses bran cereal made from wheat bran with a little sugar and other things added. I opt for plain oat bran because it doesn’t have any other ingredients in it and I like the final texture just a bit better. You can use either, but if you use the bran cereal, use the stick-like product (like All-Bran) and not “buds” or flakes as they have too many other things added. If you do use a cereal, you may also want to decrease the sugar by a few tablespoons.

The ingredient list looks long, but most of these things you’ll probably have in the house already. I usually have to make sure I have enough applesauce on hand, and I’ve successfully substituted several different types of whole wheat flour for the whole wheat pastry flour. My dad’s version uses strictly all-purpose; that works too. They do have a fair amount of sugar and oil. I don’t claim that they are either low-fat or low in sugar. They are, however, very very good! Enjoy!

Want to turn your breakfast into a real Christmas feast? Here are a few ideas from Cooking Light to go with the Gingerbread Bran Muffins:

Gingerbread Bran Muffins with Orange Crumb Topping

Yield: 12 muffins (plus a small amount extra)

1 1/2 cups oat bran (or wheat all bran cereal not flakes or buds)

1 egg

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup molasses syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 c applesauce

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

For Topping:

zest of 1 orange

1/4 teaspoon orange extract (optional)

1 1/2 tablespoons softened butter

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 12 large muffin tins or line with papers and set aside. In a large mixing bowl combine the bran, egg, oil, brown sugar, molasses, vanilla and applesauce. Mix well and then let the mixture sit for 15 minutes.

In another bowl combine both flours, the baking powder, baking soda, slat, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and set aside. Combine the 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the butter, orange zest and orange extract (if using) until the mixture resembles wet sand and also set this aside.

When the bran mixture has soaked long enough, fold in the dry ingredients until just combined. Pour into prepared muffin tins. If you have extra batter, pour it into a greased, oven-safe cup and bake it separately. Sprinkle a heaping teaspoon of the orange crumb topping on top of each muffin. Place in the center rack of the oven and

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of muffins comes out clean. Let cool for several minutes before serving. Keeps for two days in an air-tight container or for several weeks in the freezer.

This recipe makes slightly more than one dozen. You can either bake the extra as mini muffins if you have mini muffin tins or you can pour the extra into a ramekin or other small oven-safe baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

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2 Responses to Gingerbread Bran Muffins with Orange Crumb Topping

  1. jacquie says:

    those do look good. It does sound like a lot of sugar though. Did you try reducing it? I wonder if 1/2 of brown and 1/4 maple would work? also any thoughts on baking it in a loaf pan as I sometimes find that people are interested in a slice or 1/2 of one but wouldn’t take a month. I’m not sure why but it seems to be true.

    • Rebecca says:

      I’ve had it baked in a loaf pan – no problems, but I don’t know about the cooking times off the top of my head. Yes, they are sweet, but I like them sweet. You could certainly reduce the sugar and I think the maple sounds like a great idea. I think they would actually be great! Let me know if you try them.

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