Classic All-Bran/Bran Buds Muffin Recipe: Best Bran Muffins Ever

I grew up with my mom's bran muffin recipe that was perfect for a big family: Make a batch of the batter, keep it in the fridge, and bake a dozen when the mood strikes. The batter keeps for at least six weeks, although not forever, and they're tasty enough that you likely wouldn't have it in there too long anyway.

These muffins are really the best. Soft and delicious, filling and satisfying. Good just dripping with butter, or topped with some homemade jam, honey, maple syrup, peanut butter, whatever you like on your muffins. They're not overly sweet and cupcake-like; if I'm going to eat a cupcake I want frosting, dang it.

One day out of curiosity I went searching for the recipe online. Mind you, I've made it so often over the years that I have it memorized. Since it involves copious quantities of All-Bran and Bran Buds I figured the website of the cereal manufacturer who gets my money every time I make these would have the recipe. But no! They have a couple of recipes including one they call the "original" but neither is the one I grew up with. My family recipe isn't even a combination of their Bran Buds Muffins and Original All-Bran Muffins recipes.

The world clearly needs this recipe captured for posterity. Sharing it now, with an * to mark where I adjusted something in the original Mom-approved recipe. Those are explained in the notes below the recipe.

This is a lot of batter. I use my Kitchen-Aid to mix. Don't overmix or you'll toughen the batter, but if you have a stand mixer of some kind feel free to let it help you. 

Yield: I'm not sure of the precise yield since that partly depends on whether you fill the cup to heaping to get a tall dome, whether you make some mini-muffins along the way because they're just so darned cute, and other factors. I'd guesstimate around 4 dozen or so regular muffins.

Classic All-Bran/Bran Buds Muffin Recipe

2 cups boiling water

2 cups Bran Buds

4 eggs

1 cup granulated sugar*

1 cup brown sugar* 

1 cup vegetable oil*

4 cups buttermilk

5 cups whole wheat pastry flour*

5 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon sea salt

4 cups All-Bran cereal (sticks)*

Put the Bran Buds in a bowl and pour the boiling water over top. Stir together aet aside to soften; they'll turn into a bran mass within about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, beat the oil and sugar together until well combined. (If you're using butter you get to cream the butter and sugar together; I don't have a tasty verb for what happens when you're using oil.) 

Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each one. (Yes, yes, you can dump them in all at once. But here's why you want to slow down and add eggs one at a time.)

Add the 4 cups of buttermilk and mix in.

Add the Bran Buds mixture in small spoonfuls, beating/whisking to distribute through the batter.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. (Or, to be honest, if you're like me you dump in the flour and sprinkle the other things across the top of the batter and you know what? That totally works. I do it one cup plus one teaspoon at a time for the flour/baking soda; just don't accidentally put in 5 teaspoons of salt.)

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix gently until combined. 

Fold in the All-Bran.

Cover or transfer the mixture to a sealed container and refrigerate the mixture for at least 8 hours. 24 hours to two days is best.* 

Bake in the center of a pre-heated 400°F oven for 16-18 minutes until the tops are no longer wet and when you touch the muffin top it feels done, not soggy. You can also test with a toothpick the way you would a cake. I've never made these in the giant muffin tins; adjust baking time based on your experience with other recipes if you use one of those.

These work in a mini-muffin tin too, for a cute snack size. Set the timer for 15 minutes and check since the little ones bake faster.

Notes

*Sugars: Original recipe called for 3 cups granulated sugar; I reduced by 1 cup and made it half brown, half white. Do not reduce sugar further; I can attest that the batter will sour quickly.

*Oil: The original recipe called for butter here. I use canola. I've also tried using coconut oil and it worked. (If you haven't baked with it before, refined coconut oil doesn't add a coconutty flavor; it acts like shortening.)

*Flour: Original recipe called for regular all-purpose flour and it's fine to use that. When I've been out of whole wheat pastry flour and too committed to the idea of muffins to wait for a grocery run I've used half white, half regular whole wheat, and it worked fine.

*All-Bran: I've successfully substituted Fiber One cereal. Basically you want bran-based sticks here.

*Letting the batter sit before baking: You can bake right away and they'll taste great. The extra time is to enable the moisture in the batter to break down the All-Bran a bit. I've tried using the buttermilk to soak the All-Bran the way the boiling water soaks the Bran Buds, but realized that meant the flour wasn't getting really hydrated the way it should.

Mix-ins and flavors: If you like muffins with cinnamon, you can add it to the batter or make a cinnamon/white sugar mix and sprinkle that on top before baking (1 teaspoon cinnamon to 1/3 cup white sugar is about right). Other spices would work too. Use your favorite muffin recipe's seasoning and adjust for the larger amount of batter in this.

Vegan option: Use flaxseed or chia seed eggs in place of the eggs. Use vegan buttermilk (make your own with help from Minimalist Baker). I've made it this way and they turned out fine, although I think I get a bit more rise with real eggs holding everything together.

Other recipes I reviewed but didn't bake, so I won't attest to their flavors

Other recipes I've shared


A Year of Poems: July

No poems about the Fourth of July in this collection. As I've noted in previous posts in this series, I hunt for poems that say something about the month itself: its place in the cycles of the seasons, the sights and sounds and smells of the Earth's rotation at this particular point in its trip around the sun. 

The designation of a month's beginning and end is a human artifice imposed on rotations too big for us to feel, except if and as we tune into those messages from our senses. Some of these are less about July than about something else happening in the poem but they have those lines that capture the rising heat, the baking, the ripening. Some have that sense of the calendar I still feel from my schooldays: June brings the energy of new freedom but with some uncertain weather, back to school looms in August, but July is solidly summer. And it is fire season, as Forrest Gander reminds us in his poem.

"July" by Michael Field

Learn more about the collaboration of two women writing under the pseudonym "Michael Field."

There is a month between the swath and sheaf
When grass is gone
And corn still grassy;
When limes are massy
With hanging leaf,
And pollen-coloured blooms whereon
Bees are voices we can hear,

"July Day" by Babette Deutsch

The afternoon sways like an elephant, wears
His smooth grey hide, displays his somnolent grace,
        weighing
The majesty of his ponderous pace against
The slyness twinkling in an innocent eye.

"Morningside Heights, July" by William Matthews

Haze. Three student violists boarding
a bus. A clatter of jackhammers.
Granular light. A film of sweat for primer
and the heat for a coat of paint.

"Breathing Space, July" by Tomas Tranströmer

The one who’s lying on his back under the tall trees
is also up there within them. He’s flowing out into thousands of twigs,
swaying to and fro,
sitting in an ejector seat that lets go in slow motion.

"Moment in July" by Elise Asher

And in my drowsing ears resounds
Time's tick through fleshless spaces
And now slack energies within me faintly stir,
Still, budge budge I cannot budge—

"Answer July" by Emily Dickinson

Answer July—
Where is the Bee—
Where is the Blush—
Where is the Hay?

Ah, said July—
Where is the Seed—
Where is the Bud—
Where is the May—
Answer Thee—Me—

"A Warm Summer in San Francisco" by Carolyn Miller

It was sometime after that, when

the plants had absorbed all that sun, had taken it into themselves

for food and swelled to the height of fullness. It was in July,
in a dizzy blaze of heat and fog, when on some nights
it was too hot to sleep, 

"The Ubiquitous Day Lily of July" by David Budbill

There is an orange day lily that blooms in July and is
everywhere around these parts right now. Common.
Ordinary. It grows in everybody's dooryard—abandoned
or lived in—along the side of the road, in front of stone walls,
at gas stations and garages, at the entrance to driveways,
anywhere it takes a mind to sprout.

"July" by George Meredith

Blue July, bright July,
Month of storms and gorgeous blue;
Violet lightnings o'er thy sky,
Heavy falls of drenching dew;

"July Rain" by Tere Sievers

The sudden storm
flashes and rumbles
the ozone air a tonic
for the humid afternoon.

"A Calendar of Sonnets: July" by Helen Hunt Jackson

Some flowers are withered and some joys have died;
The garden reeks with an East Indian scent
From beds where gillyflowers stand weak and spent;
The white heat pales the skies from side to side;

"A July Night" by John Todhunter

The dreamy, long, delicious afternoon
That filled the flowers with honey, and made well
With earliest nectar many a secret cell
Of pulping peaches, with a murmurous tune
Lulled all the woods and leas;


When the scarlet cardinal tells
Her dream to the dragon fly,
And the lazy breeze makes a nest in the trees,
And murmurs a lullaby,
It is July.

"July" by Madison Cawein

Now ’tis the time when, tall,
The long blue torches of the bellflower gleam
Among the trees; and, by the wooded stream,
In many a fragrant ball,
Blooms of the button-bush fall.

Green spring grass on
                    the hills had cured
                              by June and by July

                                                                          gone wooly and
                                                                brown, it crackled
                                            underfoot, desiccated while

"The Last Things I'll Remember" by Joyce Sutphen

The partly open hay barn door, white frame around the darkness,
the broken board, small enough for a child
to slip through.

Walking in the cornfields in late July, green tassels overhead,
the slap of flat leaves as we pass, silent
and invisible from any road.

A Year of Poems

Summer Solstice Readings

Photo: A gently sloping mound covered with green vegetation. In the center, large stones surround the mound on either side of a narrow opening through which the rising sun can be viewed as a bright golden glow.

The longest day, the summer solstice, takes place in late mid June in the northern hemisphere where I reside (June 20 in 2024). I remember as a child thinking how strange it was that people in the southern hemisphere had summer when I had winter and vice versa, which Ellen Dudley touches on in her work below. 

Poets have celebrated the way the darkness and light sit perfectly balanced, in equipoise, and the lushness of the summer season's heart. I share a couple of lines here; follow the links to read the whole work.

The image above is of Bryn Celli Ddu, a chambered Neolithic tomb constructed around 3000 BCE in alignment with the rising sun on the summer solstice. I share it in honor of my Welsh ancestry on my maternal grandfather's side.

"Summer Solstice, Batticaloa, Sri Lanka" by Marilyn Krysl

Surf sounds like erasure, over and over.
I lay down and let go, the way you trust an animal.

"Summer Solstice 2006" by Jim Brown

The earth, the sun, in far off temporal frames
we cannot imagine,


Everyone here believes that the roses
are blooming only for them,

"Solstice" by Ellen Dudley

On the first full day of summer the sun is up
the sky as far as it will get and now it will
head south to warm the Antipodes, where today
it rains and  gales blow up from the Antarctic.

"Summer Solstice" by Rose Styron

Suddenly,
there’s nothing to do
and too much—
the lawn, paths, woods
were never so green
white blossoms of every
size and shape—hydrangea,
Chinese dogwood, mock orange
spill their glistening—

"Solstice" by Tess Taylor

How again today our patron star
whose ancient vista is the long view

turns its wide brightness now and here:
Below, we loll outdoors, sing & make fire.

"Solstice Litany" by Jim Harrison

Solstice at the cabin deep in the forest.
The full moon shines in the river, there are pale
green northern lights. A huge thunderstorm
comes slowly from the west. Lightning strikes
a nearby tamarack bursting into flame.

"Summer Solstice" by Ellen Bass (entire poem here)

If you stand at the edge
of the sunrise and shout
with a full-hearted pleasure,
hurling out cries of delight,
over and over, your joy,
like stones from a ledge,
will cause circles to widen out, reach
the horizon, light the morning.

For some readings at the other end of the year, visit my 2023 winter solstice collection of readings and my 2022 winter solstice collection.

Reruns: June Posts Worth Revisiting

I started my reruns in August 2023, taking trips down memory lane to reread old posts and find the ones that hold up when I read them years after first writing them. This gives me some nostalgia bumps, like reflecting back on a great bike touring trip I took with my sweetie in 2018 and reading posts I wrote after moving to Seattle in 2012.

Going back to my older posts also reminds me how much I was thinking, reading, and writing about transportation well before working professionally in that realm. Starting to bike commute, creating Spokane Bikes, and participating in local transportation work groups really laid a foundation for the career path I'm now on. 

June keeps rolling from National Bike Month in May to provide plenty of inspiration for riding, if not always writing. The 2018 bike tour links below pick up where the ones in May's reruns left off.

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