Thursday, December 29, 2011

Nancy Silverton's Bran Muffins: Most worthy

It's sitting outside my building right now -- a little too far from the curb. Even after my second attempt parking it this afternoon I was nervous to get too close, nervous that I'd scrape the hubcaps or squash the tires or in my distracted state of hyper curb awareness, accidentally smash into the car parked behind me.

I mustn't do any scraping, squashing or smashing.

It's only been five hours since I drove away from the Mazda dealership in Huntington Beach and I'm still not quite sure how to react to this. A new car. A car with a functioning radio and CD player, a window that doesn't get stuck when it rolls down all the way, and a driver's side door I can actually open.

Clearly this isn't allowed. Clearly I've somehow cheated the system and the system police is on their way to my apartment to declare me an unfit mother and confiscate the car. My car. Molly.

I'm so not worthy.

I should be excited. Ecstatic. Typing these very words from the back seat because I can't bear to be away from Molly lest she float back to car heaven (Japan). Instead I can't escape the singular thought that I don't deserve a new car. That my old car -- Tiffany -- was fine. That I'm really not adult enough or special enough or financially stable enough to buy a new car.

Definitely not worthy.

I was terrified signing all the papers today, making all the decisions about gap insurance and lo jack, and horrified that the dealer was addressing me rather than my mother.

"Why are you asking me?" I wanted to shriek. "I don't know what I'm doing! Don't you see the picture on my driver's license? I'm still an overall-wearing 16-year-old who over plucks her eyebrows!"

Apparently, I had him fooled. Apparently, he thought I was an adult. Because she's still outside -- still a little too far from the curb just like she was when I checked on her an hour ago.

Not worthy.

The whole day, aside from breakfast, has been seasoned with these feelings of self-doubt. In the midst of all the car-selling, car-buying, dealer-fooling, grown up nonsense, I woke up feeling determined not about this grand milestone in my life, but about bran muffins.

It was the first thing that popped into my head when I peeled back the sheets and peered, blurry eyed, at the clock by my bed.

I scurried into the kitchen, eying the muffin tin I'd lined the night before with resolve. It didn't matter to me that I was selling the only vehicle I'd ever owned in less than two hours. It didn't matter that I was replacing Tiffany with Molly a few hours after that. I was making muffins. I was toasting the wheat germ, pureeing the raisins, zesting the orange, sifting the flours. I was going through the motions, because I couldn't possibly sit still and let myself think about what I was about to do or what it would cost me or whether I was a moron for thinking I could be the owner of a car with Bluetooth, some fancy SkyActiv technology I don't really understand and a button that opens the trunk for me.

"Muffins." I thought "I'm making bran muffins."

And as I tore into my second one, consumed mere moments after I'd devoured my first, the single thought that occupied my mind wasn't guilt or despair or anything approximating the self-doubt I'd experience all day.


The muffins today.

Maybe myself tomorrow.

Nancy Silverton's Bran Muffins
Lightly adapted from David Lebovitz
Makes 12

Notes: After reading the comments noting the muffins were a bit wet, I reduced the water from 1 cup to 3/4 cup. I also upped the orange zest from a few swipes to the zest from an entire orange, and added 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. Cinnamon is very worthy.

2 cups wheat germ
1 1/2 cups dark raisins, divided (I used Jumbo Thompson to splendid effect)
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup non-fat yogurt (I used Chobani Greek yogurt)
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
Zest of 1 orange
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

Spread the wheat bran out into a smooth, even layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Toast for 6 - 8 minutes, stirring around a bit during the toasting process so it browns evenly.

While the wheat bran is in the oven, pour 1/2 cup of water and 1 cup of water into a small saucepan. Bring to a slow boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered approximately 10 minutes or until the raisins have absorbed most of the water. Remove from the heat and puree the raisins using an immersion blender or food processor.

In a large bowl, combine the wheat bran with the yogurt and 3/4 cup of water. Add the raisin puree, orange zest and brown sugar and stir until well integrated. Stir in the oil, egg and egg white. Feel free to whip the batter a bit to make sure the egg is evenly distributed.

Sift together the flour, wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and add directly to the bran mixture. Stir until just combined and then toss in the remaining 1/2 cup of raisins. It doesn't hurt to heap the 1/2 cup a bit. (Raisins are worthy as well.)

Distribute the batter evenly between the 12 muffin liners, taking care to heap it up a bit in the center. Note: It will look like you have too much batter, but keep in mind that bran muffins are a denser lot and don't rise like regular muffins. Heap that batter in and be glad the singular muffins are heftier in size because of it.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the muffins look visibly set in the centers. (Mine were done in about 28 minutes.) Let cool about 5-10 minutes in the tin before attempting to remove the muffins. (Prevents squashed sides.) Use a knife to slip them out and then continue cooling on a wire rack. Unless, of course, you are eating right away. In that case, immediately serve yourself two. Because you're worthy.


weezermonkey said...

NEW CAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

I like your blog layout, too!

Banana Wonder said...

Congrats on Molly, and psh, please TALF, you so deserve it! I love these muffins as well... Definitely going to be making them. Nice seeing you for coffee! Hope to be down there soon enough for more regular meetings :P

Diana said...

Weez - Thanks squared! I figured it was time for a change. Times two.

Anna - Thanks so much! I'm still not there yet, but I'm sure I'll feel worthy soon enough! Can't wait to have you back down in SoCal!

Nick at TreasureLA said...

Saved! I am a sucker for healthier takes on muffins - my true weakness. Zoom zoom!

Monet said...

You do deserve it! My jeep is currently broken in my driveway...I may need to get a new car myself! Thank you for sharing yet another delectable post. I'm exhausted after my first day back from vacation, but happy to be reading your words and seeing your eats! I hope you are doing well, my friend.