Packed with lots of good nutrition, the dry ingredients for these muffins include whole wheat pastry flour, oat bran, plump golden raisins and our favorite frisky Vietnamese cinnamon. Using a mix of dark brown sugar and granulated sugar to sweeten the batter entwines a rich depth throughout the crumb, yet not so much that it felt like eating a cupcake. To moisten those ingredients, tangy sour cream, milk, just a few tablespoons of melted butter and a couple glugs of pure maple syrup are rounded out with a splash of vanilla and an egg. Because we wanted to accentuate the maple, we did add just a touch of maple extract for good measure.
Once I filled up the muffin tin with batter (ice cream scoops are great for this!), the muffins are topped off with another addition to draw you in even more. Dark brown sugar, oats, flour, just a half tablespoon of oil, more maple syrup and of course, a sprinkling of cinnamon, are tossed together until the ingredients are moistened. The recipe calls for quick oats, but I only keep the thicker old-fashioned in the pantry - to make your own, just take the same amount and either coarsely chop them with a knife (you only need a couple tablespoons worth) or make a bigger batch and blitz them once or twice in the food processor to break them down slightly. The original recipe did call for twice the amount of topping than what I used - you can certainly do that if you wish, but we pared it down to keep it more in line for us.
To check and see if they are done, you can either slide a toothpick into the center and see if it comes out mostly clean (a few moist crumbs attached it perfect), or another way to check is to lightly press on the center and see if it bounces back. The latter isn't as desirable here because the sugar int he topping melts and makes for a crispier top. When you see they are ready, take them out and leave them in the pan to cool down slightly before taking them out. Five minutes is usually enough to cool down the pan and muffins enough that you are not burning your fingers to help pull them out. If the muffins stay too long in the wells, the bottoms start to steam, which may toughen the base!
Imagine the flavor of a spicy oatmeal raisin cookie, yet with the lovely texture of a muffin - that's what Jeff and I both thought of as we were picking away at the leftover crumbs on our plates! I did expect them to be a bit more moist with the milk and sour cream, but that isn't to say they were dry or too dense either. The sour cream did work well to make for tender muffins, along with activating the baking soda to create those sweet crowns on top. I also thought the maple wasn't shouting as loud as it could have, so I did note to try and increase the maple extract slightly next time.
Maple Raisin Bran Muffins