Fourteen days ago, when Gail Thompson wrote in looking for a lost recipe, I didn't even realize that six-week bran muffins were a thing. Now I know better. The batter for these baked breakfast treats -- variously called refrigerator muffins, ever-ready muffins, pail full of muffins and ice-cream pail muffins -- can be made up and stored in the fridge for up to six weeks, to be baked as required. This makes good sense, since muffins always taste best when they're just out of the oven, but busy bakers don't necessarily want to be making batch after batch of batter every morning.
I got an avalanche of recipes, all variations on the six-week fridge muffins, as well as a few responses for Gail's request for muffins made with All-Bran Original cereal. Thanks to Linn Barabash, Diane Epp, Denise George and Vera Chernecki, Donna Loewen, Margaret Deally, Susan Homes Nash, Emily Lucko, Mary Sexsmith, Diane Wiebe, Shirley Single, Marcia Toews, Judy Schnoor, June Brent, Jean Cudmore, Candy Ingram, Karin Kliewer, Laurie Hayes, Norma Wilson, Brenda Watling, Suzanne Ritchot, Pauline Chudzik, Sylvia Cassie, Bonnie Hildebrand, Patty Faulkner, Gail Roberts, Mona Hunt, Dorina Melia, Ann Timonin, Dianne Fotheringham, Anne Thoroughgood, Nancy Faintuck, Nancy Wood, Kay Milan, Therese Dumesnil, Vera Hamson, Lynne Cornish, Karen Hartikainen, Wendy Merks, Agnes Robertson, Cathy Welch, Joanne Buxton Gratton, Sandy Mosalowski, Noreen Janzen, Penny Ganetsky, Pauline Rowe, Shelley Herbert, Donna Scibak, Maureen Blake, Pauline Haalboom, Marjorey Dwornick, Donna Einarsson, Joan Airey, Pat Foot, Susan Cowtan, Maria Guenther, Elaine Guy, Marnie Strath, Gary Annable, Theresa Bench, Marlene Cyncora, Lynn Hamilton, Dean Britton, Arlene Chanel, Margaret Robert, Karin Makowski, Joyce Thurston, Julie Degner, Mary Hiebert, Marianne Gieber, Joyce Stewart, Bernice Brooks, Barbara Linaker and Vera Ralke. (Whew! I hope I didn't leave anyone out.)
This week, Helen Marshall is looking for a good recipe for white gluten-free bread, while Earl Stephenson is looking for a reliable recipe for pickled herring. If you can help with a recipe request, have your own request, or a favourite recipe you'd like to share, send an email to email@example.com, fax it to 204-697-7412, or write to Recipe Swap, c/o Alison Gillmor, Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave. Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6. Please include your first and last name, address and telephone number.
Six-week bran muffins
900 ml (4 cups) Bran Flakes cereal
500 ml (2 cups) All-Bran Original cereal
500 ml (2 cups) boiling water
250 ml (228g or 1 cup) butter or margarine
375 ml (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
375 ml (1 1/2 cups) brown sugar, lightly packed
900 ml (4 cups) buttermilk
60 ml (1/4 cup) molasses
1.1 L (5 cups) all-purpose flour
30 ml (2 tbsp) baking soda
15 ml (1 tbsp) baking powder
5 ml (1 tsp) salt
500 ml (2 cups) raisins
In medium bowl, place cereals. Pour boiling water over and let stand. In large bowl, cream butter and sugars. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in buttermilk. Add molasses and stir in cereal mixture. In another medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and raisins. Add to butter mixture, stirring only until combined. Store covered in refrigerator (a plastic ice cream pail with a lid is ideal) for up to six weeks.
As required, preheat oven to 205 C (400 F). Fill greased or lined muffin cups three-quarters full. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove muffins to cool on rack. Makes 6 dozen.
Tester's notes: A really nice bran muffin, tender and not too sweet. One thing: some authorities advise against keeping batters with raw eggs for more than three days. Clearly, this recipe has been tested and tested: some swappers wrote that they've been baking these muffins for decades. To be on the safe side, use eggs from a reliable source and consistently keep the batter in cool part of the fridge. (Some bakers do report a decline in leavening as the batter gets older, however.)
It could be that these issues won't even come up, as several people wrote that the muffins are so tasty they never last six whole weeks. This recipe can be halved if you want a smaller batch of batter.
All-Bran bran muffins
250 ml (1 cup) All-Bran Original cereal
250 ml (1 cup) buttermilk
250 ml (1 cup) all-purpose flour
250 ml (1 cup) brown sugar, lightly packed
5 ml (1 tsp) baking soda
2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt
125 ml (1/2 cup) vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
175 ml (3/4 cup) raisins (optional)
If making the muffins right away, preheat oven to 17 5C (350 F). In small bowl, combine All-Bran and buttermilk and set aside. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. In large bowl, mix together vegetable oil and eggs. Add cereal mixture, flour mixture and raisins and mix just until combined. Fill greased or lined standard muffin cups three-quarters full. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes and then remove muffins to cool on rack. Makes about 12 muffins.
Tester's notes: Another good bran muffin, with a light texture and good flavour. Linn writes that the batter can be kept in the fridge for up to two weeks and used as needed. The recipe can also be doubled.