This entire weekend was such a beautiful bridge between summer and fall. Sharon was home from Atlanta, cause enough for a party. But we also took the opportunity to celebrate Dad’s birthday on Friday night which started with light, summery ales and grilled octopus, decidedly summery fare.
But come dinner, we were drinking Chateauneuf-du-Pape and eating cassoulet and pumpkin bread pudding – all very autumnal, you might even say wintery. But then we capped off the evening by going swimming at my uncle’s pool until midnight.
The following morning, we lingered and nestled. It seemed like even the sun was rising a little slower, and we were that kind of exhausted that only comes with belly-laughing and debating (two things families do best!). Couple that with late night swimming and we were out.
There was no rush to rise, we could feel the chill coming through the windowpanes. One brave, generous soul got up and the coffee grinder sounded. Classically conditioned, we all rubbed our eyes and came downstairs. Dad went out to get the paper, “It’s chilly out there!” he reported with a boyish smile.
Because chill requires warmth, we made muffins. Bran muffins. With white chocolate, cranberries, and a dash of cardamom. A teeny bit naughty, but almost all nice. As the muffins came out of the oven, the sun crested the trees and it was warm enough to sit outside. Summer was not gone.
We moved outside and enjoyed strong coffee and those sweet-but-not-too-sweet bran muffins. Though no one said it, I could feel our collective gratitude, to have everything wonderful in life in one, sweet spot.
- 3 cups bleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 cups plain low-fat plain yogurt (not Greek-style)
- 1½ cups unprocessed wheat bran
- ¾ cup dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup unsulphured molasses
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1½ cups dried cranberries
- ½ cup chopped white chocolate
- Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375. Spray 12 muffin cups (1/2-cup capacity) with vegetable cooking spray.
- Mix flour, baking powder, baking, soda, salt and cardamom in a large bowl; mix yogurt, bran, sugar, molasses, oil, and eggs, in a medium bowl. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients to form a smooth batter. Fold in dried cranberries and chocolate; fill muffin cups with batter (a spring-action ice cream scoop works well).
- Bake until golden brown 20 to 25 minutes. Let rest a couple of minutes then turn muffins onto a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. (Muffins can be stored in a zipper lock bag and frozen for up to 1 month.)
These look so good! I’d love to make some right now but all I have is vanilla yogurt. Do you think it would make a huge difference if I used vanilla?
Pam Anderson says
Hey Patsy, Good question. Without actually trying it myself, I’d say those muffins would be just fine made with vanilla yogurt. If it were me, however, I’d probably cut the brown sugar by 2 tablespoons, so instead of 3/4 cup (or 12 tablespoons), I think I’d go with 10 tablespoons. That should work. Let us know if you tried them this way. It’ll help us all!
Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says
These certainly are beautiful! Yum!
I could use a muffin this morning! They look perfect!
Tami @Nutmeg Notebook says
You are a good writer as well as a chef! I felt like I was right there with you enjoying the family time. The muffins look amazing and are going in my to try pile.
I have to share with you that in preperation for her August wedding my daughter requested that I get her an assortment of your cookbooks for her own kitchen. You see we are big fans of your cookbooks at our house and often make your recipes for entertaining as well as our everyday meals.
When my daughter was ready to stock her pantry she used your suggestions in “How to Cook Without a Book” and it was a fabulous guideline for someone just starting out.
She has been making recipes from your cookbooks for her and her new hubby and I know she is well on her way to becoming an accomplished cook in her own right.
I myslef have been trying recipes from “Cook Without a Book Meatless Meals” as I introduce my husband to the concept of meatless meals. All of the recipes have been fabulous. Now I just need to figure out how to scale back and cook for two again.
Thank you Pam for sharing your love of cooking and helping the rest of us to simplify the process without sacrificing taste.You are my hero!
Pam Anderson says
You made my day, Tami! Thanks for taking time to share your story with me. I’m honored that your daughter wanted my books as a wedding present from her mother. And thanks for knowing how much I love to cook… and appreciating it.
Have you ever made these with buttermilk instead of yogurt? I’m more likely to have it on hand, plus I just like baking with it! This recipe sounds great, and I think bran muffins should be nice and big.
Such cozy imagery!
Devon Talley says
Pam, this entry was so beautifully written, conveying the wonderful nurturing quality of feeding a family. We’re having an early small dose of temperatures in the forties in N. Texas, back to the normal eighties of October in a couple of days. Nevertheless, the pumpkin bread pudding and cassoulet sound like delicious warm comfort food for cooler temperatures! Thanks for sharing.
I love bran muffins!! Is there any way I could use fresh cranberries instead of dried? Would I have to up the sugar? Thank you!!
Pam Anderson says
You could use fresh cranberries, but the muffins would be more tart. I wouldn’t add more sugar, because it wouldn’t sweeten the cranberries. It’d just make the muffin sweeter. Good luck!