05 September 2010

"Healthy" Jumbo Blueberry Oatmeal Raisin Bran Muffins

I am the type of person who does things in an "all or nothing" fashion.  When baking this typically results in the monstrosity you see here. I decided to experiment on my Raisin Bran Muffin recipe from the previous week and no ingredient was left behind (for the most part). First, here's a warning: These are healthy muffins (I'm sure you deduced that from the title) which I promptly offset by making them quite large :).

So here's what I did: whole wheat flour, reduce wheat bran, add a cup of old fashioned oats, reduce sugar amount and replace with honey, oil to applesauce (one of the most common health related replacement), and Power Ranger the raisins into blueberries. Do I get any credit for not touching the baking powder or salt?

After all those changes you can only imagine the cesspool of taste I believed would come out of the oven. Ironically, it wasn't that the muffins tasted healthy or bad but that they lacked some taste (at least on day one; more on that later).

As with most muffins it's hard to resist them straight out of the oven, this was a mistake. The muffins were a bit on the soft and heavy side but texture wise they were super moist with the expected "wholewheat chewiness". The oats were a nice addition, but definitely not for everyone. They were noticeable in the way that they are in cookies. Quick cooking oats would have given a softer texture and a not so "oatey" flavour but this comes down to preference. The blueberries were terrible. I used frozen but have always had excellent results with them in the past. When this is coupled with a muffin that is not sweet enough, we have an issue. It appears I may have overestimated the effectiveness of honey as a brown sugar replacement. Lesson learned. Amusingly, the raisins I morphed (now do you get it?) would have solved both the above problems: removing the blueberries altogether and adding some extra (and much needed) sweetness.

Oh and no crust on the muffins (if you listen closely you can hear my parents sobbing).

But that was day one, what about the next day? Well, they tasted better :). With a little extra time for the flavours to develop the sweetness came out more and even the blueberries decided to perk up.  They still weren't the greatest, but definitely better.

Next time (should there be a next time) I would definitely leave the honey/sugar at a 1/2 cup and go with raisins. It worked for the original recipe so I don't know why it wouldn't work with this one as well :). Granted, next time I would just go with my original recipe replace the flour with whole wheat and use apple sauce :). No fuss, no muss (or "no muss, no fuss" should you prefer).

~ Adam

P.S. I wonder if they give web awards for needlessly long blog post titles.

Healthy Jumbo Blueberry Oatmeal Raisin Bran Muffins

Adapted from me

Yields 6 jumbo or 12 standard muffins

1 cup all purpose flour (130g)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup wheat bran (52g)
1 cup old fashioned or quick cooking oats (85g)
1 cup buttermilk (or substitute for 1 cup milk and 1 tbsp vinegar and let stand for 10 minutes)
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (82g)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup honey (probably better to increase to ½ cup)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries (116g, I used frozen, no need to thaw)

Preheat oven to 375F and position rack at top 1/3 of oven. Grease or line 6 jumbo muffin cups with paper liners.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder salt and half the oats.

In a large bowl, add wheat bran, the other half of oats, and milk and let sit for 10 minutes.

In another bowl whisk together applesauce, egg, honey and vanilla.

Add wet ingredients to wheat bran-oat/buttermilk mixture and stir to thoroughly combine.

Add dry ingredients to wet and stir until just combined.

Fold blueberries into batter.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean, rotating pan when half done (mine took 25 minutes).

Remove from oven and allow to cool on rack in pan for 5 minutes before removing.

If you used my exact recipe remember my warnings about cooling. Otherwise, feel free to further destroy the healthiness by slathering on some butter :).


  1. Mr. Nuts one suggestion to improve a muffin that may be dry is to use a small depth muffin pan. The muffin is basically a muffin top where all the flavour of the muffin bursts out. Quote from Elaine

    Top of the muffin to you


  2. I don't know if I've ever had a dry muffin before. My problem is usually getting them to dry (caramelize). My experience with whole wheat flour in general is that it produces a muffin with little crispness. Not that I'm complaining since I don't really have that much love for the muffin top, which is why I have only considered buying the muffin top pan, and not actually gone out and bought one :). However, a little research has told me that not using paper liners and stuffing as much batter as you possibly can in each muffin cup should also produce crispier muffins. I have yet to put this into practice using whole wheat flour however (but have done it with others... which is strange, since others have never given me problems :)). But thanks for the tip, trust me, I have definitely considered it in the past.

  3. I love the muffin top. Remember Elaine on Seinfeld, that is me. It's all about the crusty, browned muffin lid. The aformentioned muffins were much better the next day. Thanks