blueberry bran muffins

January 6, 2011 § 7 Comments

After a full month of copious overeating, I’ve finally recovered enough to make it back into the kitchen. I never thought I would be tired of eating chocolate, but apparently that day has come. I arrived back home from holiday travels to an empty cupboard and went on a rampant grocery store trip, returning triumphantly with piles of brightly coloured vegetables and an assortment of whole grains. Which I bought in bulk. I feel very virtuous.

So my first steps back into baking were gentle: I made bran muffins. How unlike me! And they were delicious – moist, bran-ny, and didn’t leave me in a food coma. The original recipe says that they have no sugar, but since they have both honey and molasses in them I’m not quite prepared to make that claim. As baked goods go though, these are probably the healthiest things I’ve made (although that’s not a particularly high bar), and perfect for a winter breakfast.

I made my muffins fairly small so I ended up with leftover batter. Being way too impatient to wait for the first batch to bake, I dumped it in a loaf pan and made blueberry bran squares. These are not very sturdy, but just as tasty. I also made a few muffins without blueberries, so that I could compare the outcome – I’m such a scientist! My conclusion was that both were great, and this recipe is worth making. I know the bran ingredients might seem a bit obscure, but once you find them they’re incredibly cheap. I paid 54 cents! It’s a good way to start the new year. Especially if you eat two.


Blueberry Bran Muffins – Adapted from Farmgirl Fare
I strongly recommend weighing your dry ingredients for this, because the brans can pack dramatically different amounts into cups, and my volumes didn’t match up very closely with the recipe.

Yield: 12 gigantic muffins, or 12 small ones and 8 bars.

    2 cups (3oz / 86g) wheat bran
    1 cup (5oz / 141g) oat bran
    1 cup (6oz / 170g) whole wheat flour
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 large eggs
    2/3 cup (5oz / 156g) milk
    2/3 cup (5½ oz / 156g) yogurt
    1/3 cup (2¼ oz / 65g) canola oil
    1/3 cup (3¾ oz / 108g) sweet molasses or cane syrup
    1/3 cup (3¾ oz / 108g) honey
    1 teaspoon (6g) vanilla extract (optional, I didn’t use this)
    1 1/2 cups blueberries (or substitute cranberries, or 1 cup raisins, or leave them out entirely)

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease a muffin tin or line with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine wheat bran, oat bran, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, yogurt, canola oil, molasses, and honey (and optional vanilla) and mix well.

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula just until combined. Fold in blueberries with as few strokes as possible.

Generously fill muffin cups with batter. I had a lot of batter left over, so rather than make giant muffins I put it in a greased loaf pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15 to 20 minutes for small muffins and thin loaf, or 20 to 25 minutes for large muffins. Cool muffins in pan for 5 to 10 minutes, then carefully remove from pan and serve warm, or let cool on a wire rack. Possible eating options: butter, honey, and peanut butter are all delicious. These are also reported to freeze well, though I haven’t tried it.


oatmeal maple scones

October 16, 2010 § 5 Comments

I like to get my work done in coffeeshops. I find the quiet buzz very soothing – maybe it’s comforting to know that even though I’m glued to my laptop, other people are chatting and sipping coffee and leading happy, civilized lives. The consequence, though, is that I’ve now tried most of the baked goods on offer in my neighbourhood. Some are fine, some are great, but when I tried the homemade oreos at Flour I immediately went online and bought their new cookbook. I wanted to replicate them exactly and then eat a bazillion.

Well, yesterday the cookbook finally arrived, and distractible as I am I never actually made it to the cookies. I stopped at the very first recipe: maple oatmeal scones. They sounded perfect for fall and they definitely are: buttery and nutty and not too sweet. They’re very different from my other favourite scones: more texture from the oats, and with lovely crunchy bits from the nuts and craggy tops. By the time my roommates all woke up, they’d filled the house with the smell of maple, and I felt very productive for having baked before anyone else was up. It was made slightly easier by the fact that that was around 2 pm, but it still counts.

So here is the ideal October breakfast: they have all the right flavours, and having the oven on helps counter the new chill in the air – I’ll probably start baking every day just in an attempt to keep my toes warm. Tomorrow I’ll try to make it to the homemade oreos, but I can’t guarantee that I won’t get distracted by the second recipe, or the third… maybe in a few months?


Oatmeal Maple Scones – adapted from Flour

The original instructions are for a stand mixer, and although I covet one I only have a handheld and adapted the instructions accordingly. If you do have one, you can use it for all the steps rather than only switching to it in the last part.

    1 1/4 cups (210 g) flour
    1 1/2 cups (125 g) old-fashioned rolled oats
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 cup (50 g) pecans, toasted and chopped
    1/2 cup (80 g) golden raisins
    1 stick cold butter, cut into 10 pieces
    1/3 cup cold heavy cream
    1/2 cup maple syrup
    1 cold egg

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pecans, and raisins. Scatter the butter pieces on top. Cut in butter with two knives until it’s somewhat broken down and grape-size pieces are still visible.

In a small bowl, whisk together cream, maple syrup, and egg. Add to flour mixture, and use hand mixer on low speed until dough just comes together, about 20 seconds.

Using a 1/3 cup measure, drop mounded scoops of the dough onto a baking sheet, forming 8 scones and leaving a couple of inches between each. Bake until scones are golden brown on top, 30-40 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool.


Maple glaze
I found this to be incredibly sweet so just used a drizzle: next time I’d make a half or even third recipe. If you don’t like things to be too sweet, I’d recommend you go easy on the glaze.

    1 cup icing sugar
    3 tablespoons maple syrup
    1 to 2 tablespoons water

While scones are cooling, whisk together sugar, maple syrup, and enough water to make a pourable glaze. When scones have cooled 30 minutes, brush or drizzle glaze over.

Pie for breakfast

October 12, 2009 § 9 Comments


Pumpkin pie is one of my absolute favourite things about fall. It reminds me of Thanksgiving and fireplaces, and also it’s ridiculously delicious. But sadly, I cannot really eat pie every day. So when a coworker handed me this recipe for pumpkin pie oatmeal, I got very excited. Pie for breakfast! Somehow I resisted the urge to top it with whipped cream.


This is a warm and very dense sort of breakfast, so it’s perfect for a chilly morning. I actually heavily adapted the recipe from its original form, including tossing in a handful of pecans. It’s hugely improved by the nuts, since otherwise the thick texture gets a little overwhelming. I tend to go a little heavy on the spices, but you should certainly taste and adjust according to what you like best.


Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Serves 2-3

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans

Heat oats, milk and salt in a pot until the mixture arrives at a simmer. Lower heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until oats have thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in brown sugar, pumpkin, and all spices to taste. Cook on low until pumpkin is heated through.

Early-morning scones

October 4, 2009 § 3 Comments


I am not one of those fortunate souls known as ‘morning people’. It takes a full hour after I get out of bed before I’m ready to interact with the world. Anyone who has to deal with me before then is greeted with blank stares, and attempts at speaking that generally come out as something like ‘hmmpghghh’.


This is why morning baking rarely occurs at my house. I would love to fill the house with buttery pastries and warm muffins and cinnamon buns… mmmm…. but at any rate, all I can usually manage is to pour myself a bowl of cereal. Baking is for once my brain has turned on.


But today was different! Not that I magically became an early riser, but rather that I slept past noon. I awoke bright-eyed and eager to make lemon-blueberry scones. And then promptly did.


I was a little nervous about the recipe – it’s super important not to overwork scones – but these turned out very tender and light, just like they were supposed to. They’re very buttery but not very sweet, so if you like sugary morning treats, I would add a tablespoon of sugar. As it was, I liked them perfectly the way they are, but I would definitely use the glaze. I glazed only half to see which was better, and there was a clear winner. The glazed scones were still moist and lightly crisp, but the topping was just a little sweeter, and made for a nice contrast.


This recipe only takes a few minutes to put together, and bakes quickly as well, so it really is well suited to everyday morning baking. However, I can’t pretend that I would ever get my act together enough to make scones before going to work, so I won’t preach to anyone else. But if you’re more put-together than me – as most people tend to be – this is a great way to start the day!


Lemon-blueberry scones – from The New Best Recipe

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, preferably a lower-protein brand such as Gold Medal or Pillsbury
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen, but not thawed)
  • 1 cup heavy cream


  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 425°F.

In large bowl or in food processor, whisk (or pulse) together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.

If making by hand: using two knives, a pastry blender, or your fingertips, quickly cut in the butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal with a few slightly larger butter lumps. If using a food processor: distribute butter over dry ingredients. Process with 12 one-second pulses, then transfer to large bowl. Add blueberries and mix in quickly.

Stir in heavy cream with a spatula or fork until a dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.

Turn out onto countertop and knead by hand just until the dough comes together in a rough, slightly sticky ball, 5 to 10 seconds.

Press dough into an 8-inch cake pan, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut into 8 wedges and place on ungreased baking sheet. For glaze, brush tops with cream and then sprinkle with sugar.

Bake until the scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, and serve.

Note: there are two key things here: one is to make sure your butter stays cold, and the other is not to overwork the dough. The first is easier if you use a food processor, because it’s quick and nothing has time to melt, but the second is easier by hand (which I did), where you can be more gentle. It’s not tricky though, just keep those in mind and you’ll have the perfect scones!

I guess I’m a hippie

October 1, 2009 § 6 Comments

After spending the last few days very sick with what I like to claim was swine flu, I’ve finally recovered enough to get back in the kitchen. But only to make one of my absolute least-effort recipes: granola!

My roommate claims that making my own granola puts me squarely in the class of people known as hippies. But I think I’m okay with that.


Now, normally I’m pretty militant about full-fat baking. Lots of people madly switch out butter for applesauce or put Splenda in their cakes, claiming it tastes just as good – they lie! I don’t see the point of eating lots of mediocre food when you could eat smaller portions of delicious food (although I actually still eat lots, so perhaps this logic is flawed.) But this granola is one of the rare recipes that really is still great if you cut some of the oil or sugar, and since one batch feeds me every day for at least a week, I tend to do that. I didn’t this time though. Calories will help fight off the flu.


The recipe is below, but it’s incredibly adaptable and easy to experiment with. I personally hate dried fruit, but if you’re under the mistaken impression that it’s worth eating, then add away! Nuts can be swapped out, coconut added – basically you can make granola exactly the way you like it. It has spoiled store-bought granola for me forever.

So there you have it, granola so easy that you can make it while you have the flu. Which I still maintain was of the swine variety. Makes for a better story.


Vanilla-Scented Granola – adapted from Epicurious

  • 4 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup golden brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil.

Mix oats, nuts, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon in large bowl. Combine oil, honey, and sugar in small saucepan; bring to simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Pour hot liquid over oat mixture; stir well. Using hands (yay!), toss mixture until thoroughly mixed.

Spread granola on prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Transfer sheet to rack; cool granola completely.

Note: if you want chunky granola, you do need to let it cool before breaking it up. Personally, I don’t care enough for it to stop me from eating it hot.

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