Food Friday--6-Week Bran Muffins

I always think of this as my mother's recipe since she made them frequently while we were growing up, but I later found that she'd gotten the recipe from a cookbook our church had put together when I was young. I've also since seen the recipe on the Internet, unattributed, so I don't know where it originally came from. Whoever originally came up with this one, thank you!

They're a favorite for my family-of-birth and were on the table for most holiday meals as well as for just regular-day-eating; when the grandkids started coming along, Mom would make batches of these when she knew they were coming over for the weekend. My niece got married just a few months after my mom had passed away, so for part of her wedding gift, I made a big batch of the muffins for her and her new husband to take on their honeymoon with them and included the recipe so we could pass along a family tradition to a new family. They told me later it was one of their favorite gifts, and my nephew-in-law has joined the ranks of Mom's bran muffin lovers.

Why are they called "6-Week Bran Muffins"? Because you can make up the batter and it will keep in your fridge for up to six weeks, allowing you to bake fresh muffins any time you want. Frankly, I've never had the opportunity to test the theory because I always end up baking them all within a week or so. I do recommend making the batter a day before you want to make them--you can bake the muffins immediately and they're good, but they're so, SO much better if you can wait at least a day and then give it another really good stir. The ingredients meld more. You can also bake up the entire recipe and freeze them...but why would you? There's nothing more enticing than smelling them baking and eating them warm from the oven!

You can make these lower fat by swapping out the oil for applesauce, and you can play with the proportion of egg whites to egg yolks as well. I've done several variations in that respect and the flavor is always good. However, I have found that the result is a bit too chewy for my taste, so I prefer to make them straight-up and just be careful how many I eat. Indeed, you need to be a little careful how many you eat at one time anyway. They are bran, after all.

6-Week Bran Muffins

Yield: approximately 7 dozen

1 16-oz box Bran Flakes (with raisins if desired)
3 cups sugar
5 cups flour
5 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup shortening, melted, or vegetable oil
1 quart buttermilk

1. Mix cereal with sugar, flour, soda, and salt in a very large bowl.
2. Mix eggs, shortening, and milk in a separate bowl, then pour into dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
3. Store in covered container in refrigerator and use as needed. Batter will last 6 weeks.
4. To bake, fill greased muffin tins 2/3 full and bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes.

Remember--the batter is better if left for at least a day before baking. But if you don't want to wait, you'll still enjoy the results!