Nancy Silverton’s Bran Muffins and Lessons Learned At a Food Photography Workshop

2 Jul

Recipe slightly adapted from Pastries From La Brea Bakery, via David Lebovitz 

2 cups wheat bran
1 cup dark raisins 
1 cup, plus 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk or plain yogurt 
Zest of half an orange
1/4-1/3 cup brown sugar, depending on how sweet you like your muffins 
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg 
1 large egg white 
1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
1/4 cup whole wheat flour 
1 tsp baking powder 
1 tsp baking soda 
1/2 tsp salt 

Makes 12 muffins.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. 
2. Spread the wheat bran evenly on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for six to eight minutes, stirring a few times to ensure the bran cooks evenly. Allow to cool completely. While the bran is toasting, heat the raisins with 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until the raisins have absorbed all the water. Puree the plumped raisins in a small food processor until smooth. 
3. In a large bowl, mix together the cooled bran, buttermilk or yogurt, and additional one cup water. Mix in the raisin puree, orange zest, and brown sugar. Once these ingredients are thoroughly combined, add the oil, egg, and egg white. Sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt directly into the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. At this moment, you may add an additional 1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit of your preference into the batter. 
4. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, making sure the batter is mounded slightly on each one. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the muffins feel set in the center. 

          Since I started my blog two years ago, I have become a better baker, traveled to new, exciting destinations, and gained experience as a writer. While I am pleased by how this site has grown from the day I first launched, I still grappled, until recently, with one crucial aspect of blogging: photography. I felt as though the camera controlled me, its various buttons and features overwhelming me every time I attempted to snap a shot. That was until I attended my first natural light food photography workshop, taught by Christina Peters and Amy Paliwoda of MDR Photography in Los Angeles. 
          The seven-hour course covered the fundamentals of photography and food styling, everything from white balance and aperture to product placement and color stories. I learned invaluable information about my camera and how to manipulate technical settings and light in order to achieve the ideal shot. It was also a pleasure to interact with the other bloggers and foodies who participated in the class. I left the studio with newfound knowledge and confidence in my photography abilities and the contact information of some of the lovely people I met.
          Now, let’s talk muffins. I bookmarked this recipe a while ago then promptly shifted my attention to more vibrant items in my queue. However, when my mom requested a good bran muffin last week, I knew exactly where to turn. These bran muffins are lighter and airier than any other version I have tried. There is plenty of hearty bran flavor packed into each bite and the raisin puree provides a tone of earthy sweetness without adding sugar. Paired with some fresh fruit and yogurt, this is a breakfast pastry you can feel good about. It allows you to start your day energized and satisfied, unlike the guilt you endure after indulging in a buttery cheese danish. These bran muffins have definitely claimed a spot in my prestigious list of go-to recipes, holding their own among NY Times chocolate chunk cookies and French macarons

8 Responses to “Nancy Silverton’s Bran Muffins and Lessons Learned At a Food Photography Workshop”

  1. Ally July 12, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

    i can believe that these are the best ever – your recipe sounds perfect!xo

  2. Maral July 13, 2012 at 2:45 am #

    Hi Ally! These truly are the best bran muffins. The combination of the raisin puree and the buttermilk gives the muffins their incredible moistness which sets them apart from others I have tried. I hope you try them out for yourself! Maral

  3. Cannella Vita July 16, 2012 at 1:47 am #

    These look delicious, I always trust a David Lebovitz recipe! Plus these are so healthy! I often overlook simple recipes like this for snazzier baking endeavors. Your post has reminded me to go back to the basics from time to time too πŸ™‚

  4. Maral July 16, 2012 at 6:46 pm #

    Hi Erica! I agree with you- you can never go wrong with a David Lebovitz recipe. I just bought his book, Ready For Dessert, and everything I have tried so far has been a huge hit. These muffins are an absolute must, especially if you are looking for a healthy AND delicious breakfast pastry.Maral

  5. Lynn Spencer July 20, 2012 at 10:51 am #

    HI! what are you using as liners in the photo?

  6. Maral July 21, 2012 at 11:46 pm #

    Hi Lynn! To make the liners, I cut squares of parchment paper and put them in the muffin tins. I'm glad you liked the photos! -Maral

  7. About Me February 3, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    I am a high school teacher and stumbled upon your blog via foodgawker. What a delight to see a young adult have such an interest in cooking and excellent writing skills as well!I made these muffins this morning and made a huge error when I copied the recipe. I had written 1 cup of buttermilk instead of 1/2 cup. I debated about adding more flour or bran but decided to go ahead and proceed as they were. They turned out fine and were enjoyed by my daughter and her co-workers. I have bookmarked your site and look forward to your future posts.

  8. Maral February 4, 2013 at 3:38 am #

    I am so glad that you found me through foodgawker! With these muffins, if you ever measure out too much of an ingredient, I would recommend just doubling the entire batch. I hope that you try other recipes from my site, and definitely let me know how they turn out. I really appreciate your compliment about my writing. It made my day to hear that someone pays attention to my word choice and grammar. πŸ™‚

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