Jazz Up Bland Bran Muffins By Toasting Your Wheat Bran First

Bran muffins
Bran muffins - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

Next to decadent chocolate or fruity blueberry, bran muffins aren't the most exciting of baked goods. But, that doesn't mean you should write them off just yet. While they may have a reputation for being basic and bland, the reality is that the muffins can boast layers of complexity. The trick, however, is knowing how to unlock wheat bran's full flavor potential, which is where toasting comes in. Regardless of the recipe, toasting bran can effortlessly transform muffins into something capable of inspiring even the most serious of bran muffin skeptics.

Baking with bran has its benefits, which is why bran-based goodies continue to be a mainstay in muffin baskets. Most notably, wheat bran is loaded with an abundance of nutrients and fiber, making it a healthy addition to sweet treats. Likewise, bran can also give recipes a textural edge with its delicate flakiness. Plus, the cereal can even contribute a pleasant malty sweetness and nutty depth. That said, these flavors tend to be fairly subtle unless the wheat bran is toasted prior to being sprinkled into a recipe. But why?

As bran toasts, it undergoes the Maillard reaction, which directly impacts flavor. Along with heightening nuttiness, a brief roast also allows bran to develop additional flavors of spice and caramel, amping up richness. Since toasting can take wheat bran to the next level, it's only natural that using the ingredient in bran muffins will produce flavorful treats that are anything but bland.

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To Extract The Most Flavor From Wheat Bran, Remember These Toasting Tips

Bran muffin sliced in half
Bran muffin sliced in half - Dlerick/Getty Images

To guarantee a deliciously irresistible bran muffin, always work with fresh wheat bran. Although the browning process can revive stale bran that's been sitting in your pantry for ages, old bran won't pack as much of a gustatory punch. Instead, for the most intense and most varied flavors and aromas, toasting fresh wheat bran is a must when baking your way to a better bran muffin. Speaking of which...

Toasting can be done in one of two ways, either in the oven or on the stovetop. For a hands-off approach, simply scatter fresh bran on a baking sheet, roasting for six or seven minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Wheat bran can also be added to a skillet over medium heat to toast. In any case, don't forget to turn or stir the bran frequently to ensure even browning and to reduce the risk of burning. Generally, bran will be done toasting once it darkens slightly and a nutty perfume fills your kitchen. One final word of advice, to best capture its roasty richness, use the toasted wheat bran as soon as possible.

Want to maximize toastiness? Emphasize the wheat bran's warm and nutty nuances by introducing toasted spices, nuts, or seeds — we're partial to poppy seeds — to your muffin recipe. Alternatively, you might also want to consider toasting your flour for more depth. With so many ways to amplify the flavor, you'll never bake a bland bran muffin again!

Read the original article on Tasting Table.