I have been making Bran Muffins ever since I was a little girl and they are a real family favourite. The only thing is, the recipe calls for a whole cup of brown sugar which has always worried me a bit. I regularly cut it back to three-quarters of a cup without affecting the recipe, but even that is still a lot of sugar for a muffin that contains so many other healthy ingredients.
Recently I’ve been experimenting with the recipe using different unrefined sweeteners and the one I like best is maple syrup. I suppose that isn’t surprising as a lot of the world’s maple syrup comes from Ontario where I grew up. Visits to maple syrup farms were a regular occurrence when I was little and I’ve even eaten maple sap right out of the collecting bucket, straight from the tree. (I’m not sure we were supposed to do that but it sure did taste good!)
My original bran muffins contain sultanas or raisins and I didn’t want to leave those out as they add both sweetness and nutrition. However for me, pecans are a natural partner to maple syrup and I couldn’t see any reason not to include them too. If nut allergies are an issue, I would just double the amount of raisins. Extra raisins are never a bad thing
Maple Pecan Bran Muffins
¾ cup maple syrup
½ cup mild vegetable oil (I generally use sunflower or mild olive oil)
2 cups natural wheat bran (not bran cereal)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup all purpose (plain) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
generous pinch of salt
½ cup raisins or sultanas
½ cup pecans, roughly chopped
¾ cup buttermilk (you can use ordinary milk if you prefer)
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (170ºC).
Beat the eggs. Add the maple syrup and oil, mixing well. Stir in the bran and cinnamon. Set aside for about ten minutes while you put the muffin liners in the pan and get the dry ingredients together.
Sift the flour, soda and salt together. Add to the wet ingredients, along with the raisins and pecans. (This ensures that the fruit and nuts are evenly distributed.) Stir through just until mixed.
Stir in the buttermilk, ensuring that the batter is all mixed together and there are no patches of flour. Bran muffins need a bit more stirring than ordinary muffins.
Divide the batter between 12 muffin cups.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until muffins a skewer inserted into the centre of any muffin comes out clean. Best served warm, these muffins keep well and can be reheated gently in the microwave.