A quick stop at Aunt Kay’s house was quite often rewarded with one of her famously delicious, freshly baked bran muffins and an iced tea or cup of coffee.
My husband’s Aunt Kay was one of my dearest friends, the consummate mentor, a skillful homemaker and just out and out amazing. She grew up the oldest child in an immigrant family at a time when women were not expected to do much other than get married, have children and do whatever their husband decreed. Aunt Kay chose differently. She agreed to abide by her family’s strict ideals even going so far as to agree to their choice of husband for her when they arranged her marriage to a man 20 years her senior. Though only five feet tall, Aunt Kay did not back down from anything or anyone. When she agreed to the arranged marriage, she sat down with her new fiancé and had a heart to heart chat. They agreed that Kay would marry Jim but, she would run the house, he could run his restaurant and she would help him when she was able but her first priority would be to her home and her children. Lucky for Aunt Kay, Uncle Jimmy agreed….maybe he felt he really didn’t have much say. I still believe Uncle Jimmy was one lucky man!
In the early 1930’s like most young women, Aunt Kay hoped for more. She wanted so desperately to be a home economist, teaching others the fine housekeeping skills she learned at her mother and grandmother’s knee. Kay’s determination throughout her 80+ years helped her succeed in teaching generations of young women, me included, her secrets to a well run home and kitchen. Many of my family recipes came from Aunt Kay and I treasure each one of them because they are all tried and true winners.
The name for Panic Bran Muffins was Aunt Kay’s way of putting a spin on keeping this muffin mix in her fridge until someone just happened to drop in for a visit. With dough from this recipe in her fridge, Aunt Kay always had the ability to whip up something fresh for her guests and her family always had freshly baked muffins in the morning. With that kind of a winning strategy, Aunt Kay was seldom in a panic.
This bran muffin recipe is a keeper because it is so versatile and easy to substitute ingredients for a wide variety of muffin flavors. I recommend reading the recipe through and readying your choices of ingredients before starting as there are many variations.
Aunt Kay’s Panic Bran Muffins
Preheat oven to 400F
Mix together: All Bran, shortening and boiling water thoroughly and set aside to cool to room temperature:
- 3 cups All Bran Cereal or bran flakes
- ½ cup shortening
- 1 cup boiling water
Add: 2 eggs beaten
- 2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (can substitute up to half whole wheat flour)
- 1 ½ cups sugar (can substitute half brown sugar)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 cups buttermilk (may substitute: yogurt, sour cream OR sour milk)
Add sifted dry ingredients to bran egg batter alternating with milk/yogurt.
Note: yogurt and sour cream make a much more stiff batter.
Stir in fruit and nuts (may vary types and amounts equal to 2 cups total added to batter)
- ¾ cup raisins
- ¾ cup dates, chopped
- ½ cup walnuts
** Look below for other variations
Fill greased muffins tins ¾ full.
Bake at 400F for 20 minutes.
NOTE: Batter can be stored in fridge for up to 4 weeks so you can have freshly baked muffins every day. Please know; the muffins rise less and bake a little more densely after 2 weeks but still taste great. Once baked, muffins freeze well for up to 3 months.
Variations — Replace fruit and nuts with:
- Apple Walnut Bran Muffins: Substitute 1 cup peeled and chopped granny smith apple and 1 cup walnuts
- Carrot Walnut Bran Muffins: Substitute 1 cup finely grated carrot and 1 cup walnuts
- Cranberry Ginger Walnut Bran Muffins: Substitute 1 cup dried cranberries, 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger, 1 cup chopped walnuts
- Tropical Bran Muffins: Substitute 1 cup well drained crushed pineapple, ½ cup chopped pecans and ½ cup shredded coconut
Experiment a little. Try different mixtures with fruits and nuts to see what most appeals to your family. You could mix the muffin batter up to the point of adding fruit and nuts then divide the batter into several smaller bowls adding different ingredients to each small batch to find what makes you happiest.