The upside of last week’s rain showing off in Paris is that it has been ideal baking weather. At this time of year I’m always looking for ways to bring a smile to my teenagers’ faces in the mornings. Let’s face it, it’s easy to get on that downward spiral of fatigue with a general lack of winter sunlight, the girls’ mock lycée exams and crescendo-ing snatched snooze alarms before reluctantly pushing aside the duvet (sound familiar?). We’ve needed to cheer up by starting the day with quick and easy comfort food that’s a bit nostalgic. Baking up a batch of these warmed healthy breakfast bran muffins with dates and apple has added a wee smile on my face too, thinking of Granny.
First let me show you some bright and cheery Scottish heather, snapped in Princes Street Gardens over the weekend in Edinburgh, with my French heather back in the garden, just after I got home. There, that’s a sunshine fix for us – now for the muffins!
Looking for some cheery nostalgia, I brought out Granny’s Black Book of Scottish recipes again. I took it as a sign as the book opened directly at page 43, with Miss Adams’ recipe for Bran Muffins.
Only Granny would have known who Miss Adams was, as I can’t find any family members who had heard of her. In any case, it was the perfect time to make these healthy breakfast bran muffins, as I’ve just discovered Hamlyn’s of Scotland’s new Oats and Bran. It took me right back to the time my Mum used to make bran muffins using a well-known breakfast cereal but when I checked the company’s website, it wasn’t up there – but who knew that Granny had a recipe?
So bring on these deliciously moist Breakfast Bran muffins, adapted from Granny’s Black Recipe Book with added healthy oats, dates and apple – and using weights (grams/ounces) to volume (cups).
Incidentally, if you’re curious why I always use weights rather than volume, see my post on measuring your baking here. And if you’re not curious and use cups, then I thoroughly recommend you read it now, as it will change the way you bake. It’s not as important for making easy muffin recipes like this one, but boy – you can’t make macarons, fancy cakes consistently well, or French patisserie without digital scales!
As you can see from Miss Adams’ recipe, granny suggested using dates. I love that squidgy concoction. She often mixed dates with apple in her recipes, so I added the apple in these too for old times’ sake. This makes the bran muffins extra moist and with the dates’ natural sweetness, there’s no need to add anything to them (Mum, if you’re reading this, no extra butter – there’s plenty in there already). If you make them the night before, just warm them slightly to serve for breakfast.
Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post but was thrilled to receive Scottish Porridge Oats & Bran from Hamlyns of Scotland in return for this recipe in their ‘Oat Cuisine’ collection (I wish I’d thought of that one!)
Irresistibly moist bran muffins with oats, dates and apple for a delicious healthy start to the day
- 100 g / 3.5oz plain flour all-purpose
- 50 g / 1.75oz porridge oats with bran (Hamlyn's) or oats with 1 tbsp wheat bran
- 2 tsp baking powder
- pinch salt fleur de sel
- 1 organic egg
- 100 ml / 3.5fl oz milk
- 70 g /2.5oz butter (unsalted) melted
- 50 g /1.75oz soft dark brown sugar (Muscovado)
- 100 g /3.5oz soft dates (Medjool) roughly chopped
- 50 g /1.75oz apple finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp mixed/apple spice optional
- 1 tbsp porridge oats for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F (180°C fan); Gas 6.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, oats with bran, baking powder and salt. Add the dates and apple (and apple spice if using) and coat in the flour mix.
In another smaller bowl, beat the egg with the milk, melted butter and sugar. Mix together then add to the dry flour ingredients, stirring well until the batter is smooth.
Spoon the mixture into paper cases inserted in buttered muffin tins (or directly into silicone muffin moulds). Fill ¾ of the way up.
Sprinkle with a few porridge oats and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
Leave to cool completely for about 10 minutes before taking out of the tin.
Best served fresh on the day but for busy bakers, make the night before and store in an airtight container once cool.
Variations: Instead of 100g dates, mix 50/50 of dates and sultanas. Another variation is to replace the dates with soft dried apricots – particularly the organic dark ones.