Proustian Muffins

I am on a mission to recreate my perfect muffin. We went on vacation the first part of September, part bike tour, part friend’s wedding, part family vacation. We wound our way through Minnesota and since every stop in MN means the cities we tried to go to our favorite restaurant. Tried. We got turned around and instead ended up at a Co-op. I am a sucker for grocery stores and co-ops are virtually irresistible. The way he goes to hardware stores I go to food stores. It works out both ways – he makes me things, I bake him things.

So in we went. And I loved it. I have no photo evidence so you’ll have to believe me, but it was enormous and beautiful. There was Ethiopian food in the cold case! There isn’t even an Ethiopian restaurant in the ENTIRE state of Iowa anymore. So yeah, the cold case! With a little basket of injera right next to it. Mind you we’d been camping for a week already, eating bread and instant meals so this was beautiful. And then came the bakery.

I bake. A lot. Sweet is my preferred flavor. So having been eating from regular grocery stores for a week my only sweets had been fruit and energy gels/bars. And here was a beautiful bakery full of delights. For some reason I grabbed the bran muffin. An attempt at some whole grain and fiber I guess. We bought our goodies at the co-op and needed to figure our way back to the freeway through construction. I was turned around in 5 seconds, but you know what. I didn’t care. I had just bit into that muffin and had a Proustian moment. I couldn’t shut up about it. We finally made it out of the city and I was kind of sad I hadn’t ended up driving in circles because I would have gone back and bought them out. And begged for the recipe.

I have very distinct memories of my mom making six-week bran muffins for us kids. Six-week because you made a ton of batter and kept it in the fridge and baked it off as you needed it. My brother and I would eat them warm, peeling off the muffin liner and spreading Country Crock margarine on the bottom of the muffin because it was flatter and easier to spread. When we ate them cold we’d split them in half and fill with that brown-tubbed marg and make muffin/marg sandwiches. Healthy kids, I know. But they were the only muffins my mom made from scratch and I remember so much about them. Some things are meant to stay in childhood. School pizza and doritos with ranch dressing for example. Bran muffins do not fall into that category. They will be brought into the future, veganized, and shared with the masses. But first I need to find the recipe.

I have already conducted two trials. The first was too healthy. I like healthy baked goods but this was too much whole wheat and molasses. The second batch were good, but not quite there. I have learned that wheat bran is key, as well as really curdling the soy milk to get the tang that I remember my mom’s buttermilk based muffins having. I will leave you with a photo of the second batch and the promise of a recipe before the end of the month. Because there is no giving up.