Sunday, May 15, 2011

Aunt Helen's Big Batch of Buttermilk Bran Muffins


Update and Hello!

Thank you to everyone who has been baking this recipe! The original was posted way way back in 2011, when this blog was just a baby. It has also appeared in my award-winning cookbook All The Sweet Things, published in 2017. I've gone and updated the photos (because in 2011 my food photos kinda sucked) and as per some of your recommendations I've increased the salt to 2 tsp. 
I've chatted with Aunt H on the phone and she thinks the bran muffin buzz is kinda funny, but she loves it. Thanks for making this old lady and her niece really happy. And, happy baking!

Let's face it.  There is absolutely nothing sexy about bran muffins.  Nothing at all.  Unlike these lemon muffins  I made awhile ago, with their cream cheese filling and all, they could be called sexy, but no, not bran muffins.   I even questioned whether I should write about these muffins, until I tasted one, and thought, no, the people should  be made aware that some bran muffins can indeed rock.  And it's my Aunt Helen's Recipe, which makes them kinda special. 

Aunt Helen is my Mom's aunt, my Grandma's sister, who I got to know really well when I lived in Edmonton.  She was my only family on my Mom's side there, and in a way she became my surrogate Grandma.  I never knew my Grandma Clara as she passed away before I was even born, but Aunt Helen would tell me all about her, and I kind of loved that.  Through her I would connect to a bit of my history, finding out what my Grandma was like as a kid; stories I never heard from my Mom.  We'd sit in Aunt Helen's living room and drink tea while she gave me a glimpse into the past and where I come from. Me and Aunt Helen spent lots of time together, hitting up yard sales, driving out to the country to pick berries, going to movies where she almost always fell asleep.  We were kindred spirits, she and I, and leaving her to move to Saskatoon was especially difficult.  Aunt Helen was happy for me, that I had opportunities awaiting me here, but more than a little sad to see me go.  In exchange for being closer to my Mom, I left behind another lovely lady, who I miss very much.

Going to Aunt H's place, there was always some sort of baked good lying in wait.  She constantly sent me home with little care packages of food, and back when I was a poor student, those packages were most welcome.  These bran muffins were a "regular" (couldn't resist) in the package and the good thing about the recipe is that the batter can be kept in the fridge for a few weeks, so you can bake them off as you need.   Fresh baked muffins daily if you like!  Full of all kinds of good things like the bran (of course), ground flax seed and large flake oats, I reduced the sugar amount and even sprinkled some with sunflower seeds, just for fun.  Because, if you can't be sexy, you might as well be fun. 

Aunt Helen's Big Batch Buttermilk Bran Muffins

2 cups boiling water
2 cups natural bran
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
4 cups buttermilk
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup ground flax seed
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
5 tsp baking soda
4 cups large flake oats
sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, optional

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  In a medium sized bowl pour the boiling water over the bran.  Let stand 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, in another medium bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the oil, brown sugar, molasses and buttermilk.  In a large bowl, add your dry ingredients.  Stir well.  Pour in the wet, stir a little, then add the bran.  Stir just until the batter is moistened.  Y'all know I will not let a raisin come near this mouth, but if you like, go ahead and add some if you must.  Just don't tell me.
Line a muffin tin with paper cups, or lightly spray.  Scoop the batter, until 3/4 full, sprinkle with seeds and bake  for about 20-30 minutes, until the tops have risen and spring back when touched. My cups were rather full so it took closer to 30, but if in doubt, check with a tooth pick.  Slathered with some butter, or just on its own, this bran muffin doesn't suck.  Makes about 3 dozen muffins.  Batter will keep in fridge for 3 weeks. 

Now excuse me while I go call my Aunt Helen.


  1. In spite of being bran muffins they sure look yummie, and have nice texture...I would love to enjoy them with a cup of coffee in the morning. Nice pictures. Hope you have a wonderful week ahead Renee :-)

  2. You make bran muffins look so good!!!

  3. I made these last night. They are fantastic - very big batch! I love that!!! I've made lots of bran muffins but never had the oats in them. Add a very nice texture to these. Thank you for your wonderful blog & the time it takes to share such knowledge.

  4. I am not a great baker but you have inspired me to pick up a few ingredients and to bake a batch for the upcoming week. Thank you fir sharing your Aunt Helen’s recipe. Reminded me of my aunt Lea. Hugs !


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