At what point does a recipe cease to be the one from the book and become one’s own? These muffins are loosely based on Martha Rose Shulman’s “Overnight Bran Muffins” from her book Great Breads. Her ingredients are: raisins, bran, boiling water, eggs, sunflower oil or melted butter, honey, molasses, buttermilk, whole wheat flour, white flour, baking soda, and salt. She bakes hers at 400F for 20-30 minutes. If I had just replaced the raisins with cranberries (sometimes I use other berries or dried fruits), or replaced the buttermilk with soy milk or juice, or used all whole wheat flour instead of a mixture of whole wheat and white flour, and added a few spices, it would not have been my cooking. But when one changes nearly every aspect of a recipe, is it a new recipe? I just happened to start with this one, but I could just have easily started modifying the recipe on the back of the bag of cranberries for cranberry bread or any one of a number of the recipes I have for apple, cranberry, or bran muffins and came to the same place.
I used chopped cranberries, succanat, walnuts, oat bran, egg replacer, walnut oil, soy milk, ground flax seed meal, whole wheat pastry flour, cinnamon, allspice, baking soda, and salt and changed some of the proportions, the order in which I prepare and mix some of the ingredients, and the baking temperature and time. Ms. Shulman’s muffins are richer and more classic for having the eggs, buttermilk, and white flower, but the ones I made this morning tasted pretty good, and I recommend her book as an excellent place to find solid, easy to follow recipes. I honor her recipe as a starting point, the way I honor my teachers on the yoga path, but still bring in my own experience.
Want to make your own?
- Take a cup of cranberries (these are the last of the cranberries I bought last fall and then froze to use through the winter; you might not be able to find cranberries this time of year, so use whatever you have on hand), chop them in a wooden bowl, toss with a few spoonfuls of succanat (dried fruits or sweeter berries do not ask for the extra sugar) and set aside.
- Wisk together in a large bowl egg replacer (one egg’s worth), 1/4 cup walnut oil, and 1/4 to 1/3 cup maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener, including fruit juice concentrate). Soften 1 cup oat bran with about 7/8 cup boiling water. Mix oat bran into liquid ingredients.
- In a separate bowl, mix together 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, 1/2 cup ground flax seed meal, a pinch of salt, and a slightly rounded teaspoon of baking soda.
- Quickly fold the dry ingredients into the wet without over mixing. Add the cranberries and then the walnuts. Bake at 350-360 for 18-24 minutes in lightly oiled muffin tins. Makes 12.
- Modify to your delight. If you are allergic to nuts, skip the walnuts and use safflower or canola oil instead of walnut oil. Go to Ms. Shulman’s recipe as a starting point and create your own.
I freeze muffins and then take one to work (I transport muffins wrapped in a cloth napkin or a reused bag from nuts or dried fruit) instead of buying coffee shop muffins. Saves on packaging, calories, and I know it was made with love. Keep the coffee store pastries for a special treat or for when you’ve temporarily run out of your own.