The Bran Muffin To End All Bran Muffins

Nancy Silverton's bran muffins

Many of you already know of this bran muffin, a Nancy Silverton creation served at the widely adored La Brea Bakery. Made with toasted wheat bran, freshly grated orange zest, and simmered and puréed raisins, it is one of the most delicious muffins — bran or otherwise — out there. This is a true bran muffin, not a brown muffin under the guise of bran muffin. Despite being nearly one hundred percent whole grain in makeup, it is perfectly sweet and super moist. This is a muffin you feel almost OK about eating by the half dozen and one you feel truly OK about packing into lunch bags and taking on road trips.

Is it a little fussy? Toasted bran, grated zest, plumped and puréed raisins? Yes, a little bit. But I would argue that the bran muffin to end all bran muffins deserves to be so. I think you’ll agree.

orange and raisins

puréeing simmered raisins

batter

scooping batter into the pan

scooping batter

Nancy Silverton’s Bran Muffins
Adapted very slightly from Nancy Silverton via More Than Burnt Toast and David Lebovitz
From Nancy Silverton’s Pastries from the La Brea Bakery

Notes: Because I don’t love the texture of raisins in baked goods, I puréed all of them in step 3 versus saving a half cup to fold in at the end. If you like the texture of raisins, however, by all means, save a 1/2 cup to be folded in at the end.

2 cups (125g) wheat bran
1 1/2 cups (190g total) dark raisins
1 1/2 cups (370ml total) water
1/2 cup (120g) buttermilk or plain low-fat yogurt (I used buttermilk)
zest of one orange
1/2 cup (105g) packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (125ml) vegetable oil (I used canola)
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1/2 cup (65g) flour
1/4 cup (35g) whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners or grease with butter or oil or use these free-standing paper liners, which are fun and pretty.

2. Spread the wheat bran on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for six to eight minutes, stirring a few times so it cooks evenly. Let cool.

3. While the bran is toasting, heat 1 cup of the raisins with 1/2 cup of the water. (Note: I simmered all of the raisins (1.5 cups) at once with 3/4 cups water, then added the remaining 3/4 cup water to the batter (step 4) afterwards.) Simmer for ten minutes, or until the water is all absorbed (I simmered for 10 minutes and all of the water was not absorbed, but I figured it was OK, and it was). Puree the raisins in a food processor or blender until smooth.

4. In a large bowl, mix together the toasted bran, buttermilk or yogurt, 1 cup water (or 3/4 cup water if you have simmered all of the raisins with 3/4 cup water), then mix in the raisin puree, orange zest, and brown sugar.

5. Stir in the oil, egg and egg white.

6. Mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and sift (or not) directly into the wet ingredients. Stir until the ingredients are just combined, then mix in the remaining 1/2 cup raisins (if you haven’t puréed all of them already).

7. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, making sure the batter is mounded slightly in each one. Because muffin tins can very in size, if your tins are larger, make fewer muffins.

8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the muffins feel set in the center.

Nancy Silverton's bran muffins

34 Comments

  1. This is my “go to” recipe for Bran Muffins since I was introduced to it last year. I can attest to the fact that there is not a better bran muffin out there.

    Reply
  2. These look amazing- so moist and mouth watering. I love bran muffins but so often they do not live up to the hype….dry and bland. I can’t wait to try these out, though. They look like the perfect muffin to have just hanging around in the kitchen. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  3. I *love* bran muffins! I hate to say it, but it was a chain restaurant that taught me that bran muffins could be something really special–Mimi’s Cafe restaurants do a mean bran muffin (though I’m sure they’re not true bran muffins, their knobbly texture and sticky honey bottoms are just delicious).

    The first thing I thought of when I saw the picture was, “Do these have dates in them?” I saw that you used plumped, pureed raisins (which I happen to love)… I wonder if dates would work too. Or dried peaches. Or dried apricots. I’m drooling. Time to start baking.

    I think I haven’t made bran muffins since my job at a bakery because I have been nervous about finding a reliable one… coming from you, and seeing Val’s comment, I know I can trust this one. EXCITED!!!

    Reply
    • Whitney, I love the idea of using other fruit in place of the raisins. Dried peaches sounds amazing! Especially during the summer.

      Also, I happen to love “bran” muffins that are sugary and sticky and not healthy at all. Metropolitan bakery in Philadelphia makes an unbelievable millet muffin, which I ate for years thinking I was being so healthy. I’m pretty sure the recipe has 2 cups of packed brown sugar. Alas, there’s a place for every muffin I suppose.

      Also, I have been making labels for my homemade vanilla. I’m going to post about the whole process soon. I can’t wait. I think i’m going to print the stickers on Moo.com. Love that site!

      Reply
    • Rita — I can’t say for sure because I’ve only made the recipe exactly as it is written, but if you have had success with making these sorts of substitutions, then I say go for it. Report back if you make any discoveries!

      Reply
  4. I´m such a die hard fan of NS! And these muffins are everything I expect from her: not too sweet and with a twist that separates them from others. Her recipes sometimes take a bit of steps, but they are so worth it! Great post

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  5. I made these last night, and they turned out fantastic! I used a couple mashed bananas instead of the yogurt. So bran-nana muffins? Nonetheless they are delicious. I think i’ll have to try them with the other fruit in the comment above. bran-nana peach muffin, yes please!

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  6. these sound so delicious! i love the idea of pureeing raisins and I love buttermilk in anything and everything

    question: is wheat bran the same as all bran cereal? if not, (since i have all bran cereal in the house), can I toast it and then grind it up in a food processor and substitute it?
    thanks!

    Reply
    • Hayley — Wheat bran unfortunately is not exactly the same as all bran cereal. I think your idea might work (sounds delicious), but look at the ingredients on the all bran box to see what else is in there. I haven’t had all bran in a long time (I used to LOVE it and eat it all the time), but I’m pretty sure there is sugar added to it. If you decide to grind it up, you might just want to reduce the amount of brown sugar that you add by a couple of tablespoons or so. Hope that helps. Good luck with it!

      Reply
  7. Thank you for this super muffin. I made a few changes and am really happy with the turn out. I substituted whole dried bananas about 5, which I found in the raisin section of my natural foods store. Cut them up (their texture is somewhat like a date) and proceeded just as if they were raisins. Note: these are not the little banana slices that look like chips They are moist, whole dried bananas. Delish
    Second, I used 3/4 cup Guisto’s whole wheat flour instead of some white and some WW.
    I used lemon zest rather than orange and added a few scrapings of a whole nutmeg…oh and chopped walnuts. Before putting in the oven I sprinkled the tops with sunflower seeds (I love seeds!) and some coarse sparkling sugar. LOVED them.

    Reply
    • Linda — Awesome! I have never used whole dried bananas, but am now intrigued. I am going to have to get my hands on some of those. Thanks for writing in with your variations. Sound delish!

      Reply
  8. You are welcome.. I am seriously thinking of making the cinnamon rolls next, with no variations. they are the first that look as if the dough really a yeasty dough and I can’t wait to dive in mmmmmmmmmmmm with a cuppa coffee in the morning. Or whenever! Love your recipes and many thanks

    Reply
    • Linda you are funny. Those cinnamon rolls are heavenly. I haven’t made them in ages, but I couldn’t believe how wonderful they tasted with just a simple yeast dough (versus an enriched dough). Hope you had a nice weekend!

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  9. Well, thank you the weekend was smashing all because I’d had a(at least one) Best Bran Muffin with the morning cuppa! I LOVE anything with nuts and seeds and kept thinking the addition of flax and sesame seeds to the batter would keep me sucking my teeth for the rest of the day!
    So, with only 4 muffins left in the freezer – I’m not sharing! – I am getting more dried bananas and slammin some more of those babies in the oven. And I should mention, it’s been above 105 degrees here. Now, that has to be a great recipe to have an oven on in this heat! Tx again

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  10. REPORTING..success. I added toasted sesame and flax seeds and used 1 cup of whole wheat and I loved it. Many seeds and nuts to savor……Man this is a great recipe!

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  11. I’m having trouble finding wheat bran (3 markets in NYC with no luck?!) so I used what germ. I understand they’re not the same thing. Do you have tips for a brand of wheat bran? Or is it a bulk item at the health food store? I found oat bran, do you think that would work?

    Reply
  12. Ali! First time I made them with oat bran and lemon zest, it was so good that while I had planned to bring them in to work to share, I kept them all to myself so I could eat them for breakfast and dessert all week long! I’m making them again so Damien can have some too, :) You’re the best!!

    Reply
  13. I stumbled onto your site after googling the NS bran muffins. I have her baking book but was too lazy to get up to find the book and that’s why i searched for it online. Glad I did b/c I found your site and your photos are just beautiful! may i ask what kind of camera u use? I can’t wait to make these bran muffins…you make them look so delicious!

    Reply

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