Wednesday 6 February 2008

Germy Bran Muffins

‘What sort of muffins have you made?’ asked E as he did the dishes following my baking.

‘Ummm… I put them all in the freezer except one and you are welcome to that one,’ I replied.

He congratulated me on some fine dissembling about my muffins and told me I would make a great interviewee on the John Faine morning radio show – I think he was alluding to politicians who refuse to answer any questions.

But there was a reason I didn’t like to answer. I made Wendy’s moist bran muffins but I had wheat germ I wanted to use up and used it instead of wheat bran. Does that mean I have to say I made moist germ muffins? It just doesn’t have the same ring to it! I would prefer to call them prune muffins but the prunes are really there because Wendy substituted prune puree for butter – inspired by Nigella Lawson! They don’t really taste like prunes but the prunes do seem to make them pleasingly moist.

I wondered what difference it would make to use wheat germ rather than wheat bran. I checked with Sarah Brown and Rose Elliot who both wrote that the wheat germ has most of the nutrients because it is the place where the wheat germinates, but the bran comes from the husk and is full of fibre. My muffins might not be so fibre-packed but apparently they are full of nutrients (unless these die in the baking process which is quite possible).

I had a few other deviations from Wendy’s recipe. The only tin of prunes I could find in the supermarket was sweetened (why why why?). I discovered this as I looked at the amount of sugar required by the recipe. Wendy must have used unsweetened prunes. I halved the sugar and it was still very sweet. I added molasses and forgot the salt. I also used mostly wholemeal flour which worked fine. I liked the caramelly taste that molasses imparts so will do that again. I might also just try pureeing dried prunes rather than the tinned ones next time.

But for now the muffins tasted lovely and sit in the freezer awaiting morning teas and afternoon teas when I need a treat of wholesome goodness. And the name? I am sticking to Wendy’s name because I can’t bear to call them Germ Muffins.

Moist Bran Muffins
(Adapted from A Wee Bit of Cooking)
Makes 30-36 mini-muffins

90g wheat bran or wheat germ (I think about ¾ a cup)
50ml plain yogurt
200ml milk
400g (or thereabouts) tin of prunes - drained, stoned and pureed
2 tblspn vegetable oil, plus extra to rub over muffin tin
1 egg, beaten
1 tblsp molasses (optional)
¼ cup packed (50g) brown sugar (optional)
1 tspn vanilla essence
½ cup wholemeal plain flour
¼ cup white plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
25g walnuts, chopped (or pecans)
25g sultanas

Mix wheat bran or wheat germ into milk and yoghurt in a small bowl so it soaks up the liquid. Set aside while preparing other ingredients.

In a medium mixing bowl use a whisk or fork to lightly beat the prunes, oil, eggs, molasses, sugar and vanilla essence until combined. Add bran or germ mixture and stir well. Add flour, baking powder, bicarb of soda, salt, nuts and sultanas. Stir until just combined.

Spoon mixture into a greased muffin tin (or ungreased silicone muffin tray). Bake in a 190 C pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes til golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and store in airtight container or freeze.

On the Stereo:
World Library of Folk and Primitive Music, vol III, Scotland – compiled and edited by Alan Lomax


  1. Good looking muffins! You were right, I didn't use sweetened prunes. Good idea to reduce the sugar content instead. :)

  2. Germ muffins - brilliant. I've been pondering Wendy's recipe as well - wondering if you could use dried prunes, or make your own puree. Glad to hear they went well. I haven't used molasses much in baking, so good to hear that went well.

  3. thanks Wendy - I think the prune puree was an inspired move by you. Very moist and moreish - but I can't work out why anyone needs to sweeten prunes!

    thanks Kathryn - I was thinking maybe dried prunes soaked in some boiling water for 15 minutes might make a far better puree than sweetened prunes. And I love molasses in baking, although a little goes a long way.

  4. You are right germ muffins just don't have the same effect, do they?
    They look good though, under any name!

  5. This is a unique muffin idea. I'm quite certain I would enjoy these! Thanks for sharing your inspired recipe.

  6. wow, those do look great, and actually quite interesting too Johanna:)

  7. These look good--I haven't had bran muffins in ages! I'm sure the germ substitution was delicious.

    I've used prune puree in some recipes and have found it good, but I do notice the taste when I use it (not that it's a bad taste--I like prunes--but I don't always want to notice them in a recipe). Over here, sometimes prune baby food is called for as a way to avoid having to soak and puree them by yourself. I haven't tried it, but don't see why it wouldn't work!

  8. thanks holler - names shouldn't matter but they do!

    thanks Lisa - I think you would enjoy them too!

    thanks Mansi - I think interesting is a good word for the dense rough texture

    thanks Ricki - I love prunes and I think it did contribute flavour to these but it is quite subtle. I had wondered if I could get prune puree so that is an interesting idea


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