muffin mondays: meghan’s sweet potato bran muffins

For this week’s Muffin Monday, I’m happy to introduce someone very special to me. Meet my cousin, friend, and fellow wordsmith, Meghan J. Ward, of Banff, Alberta. Megan is a freelancer writer on health and wellness, mountain culture, and outdoor sports.  She writes and reflects over at The Campsite and brings her spirited observations today to the topic of food. -Jen

I have always been a “dive in head first” kind of person. I rarely read directions and choose instead to figure things out as I go along. However, two things have made me think I might want to do otherwise: Baking and IKEA. After recently moving and putting together an army of IKEA furniture, I learned the hard way that taking apart a chest of drawers with that Star Trek looking wrench is much harder than doing it right the first time using the instructions. My baking exploits in the past have been slightly disastrous too, so today I challenged myself for this muffin post to actually follow a recipe.

This meant delving into the unknown corners of my grocery store here in Banff. Living in a National Park, I wondered if certain ingredients simply would not be available. I also wondered if I’d spend more than my university tuition buying the ingredients for my muffins at the ridiculously inflated prices of this tourist town.

I did.

I chose to use a muffin recipe from Eat, Shrink & Be Merry!by the Podleski sisters. Janet and Greta brought me through my university years and they could do it again. The recipe I chose, wittily titled A Bran New World, aptly described my venture into the unknowns of muffin making.

Soon after getting home with my loot of food, I realized this baking thing would still be improvised no matter how much I wanted to follow the directions. I didn’t have a mixing bowl big enough, and had to settle for using Tupperware and a giant wok instead. The sweet potato I had purchased was soft and mushy on one side, so I performed emergency surgery on it. I nearly blinded myself making orange zest. I had forgotten to buy allspice. I didn’t own a whisk or an apron. Turns out I really was just a wanna-be Muffin Maker.

I did some things just like the pros. I spilled muffin mix on my recipe book, which gave it the “well-used and well-loved” look even Martha Stewart would be proud of. I also remembered to preheat my oven (this is a big step for me!) OK, that’s about all that I did so professionally, but in the end, I didn’t miss a step, and those darn muffin cups looked so happy full of gooey, bran flakey, muffin mix!

sweet potato bran muffins

As I placed the muffin pan in the oven, I recited my cooking mantra just for good measure, which goes like this: ‘Don’t burn them, don’t burn them, don’t burn them!’ I am notorious for burning things, usually because I am multi-tasking while I bake. Not today! Other than taking a few pics along the way, I stuck to baking until those muffins were in, and out of, the oven.

My new kitchen filled with the smell of a job well done. I didn’t have a toothpick to check if they were done cooking, though, so I had to leap forward in faith and take them out before I burned them into oblivion. My little colony of Bran Muffins were almost ready for the ultimate test: my mouth.

sweet potato bran muffins

Was it worth my small fortune to make my batch of muffins? Absolutely. And while it’s already Winter in The Rockies, the sweet potato, dried currants, and cinnamon of this batch would also make it perfect for Fall. They warmed my happy soul, and warmed my new apartment with the love that only orange zest and cinnamon have to offer.

Now I know that if I can conquer A Bran New World, I can conquer anything.

A Bran New World

makes 12 regular muffins

Ingredients

1 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato (about 1 medium potato)
1 cup buttermilk (I substituted plain yogurt)
½ cup packed brown sugar
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 tsp grated orange zest
4 cups Bran Flakes cereal
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup dried currants
½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts (I used pecans)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp each ground nutmeg and ground allspice

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚ F. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together sweet potato, buttermilk, brown sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, and orange zest. Add Bran Flakes and mix well.
  3. In another large bowl, combine flour, currants, nuts, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and allspice. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix just until dry ingredients are moistened. Batter will be thick.
  4. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake for 17 or 18 minutes, or until muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean. Remove muffins from pan and cool slightly on a wire rack. Serve warm.

from Eat, Shrink & Be Merry! Great-Tasting Food That Won’t Go from Your Lips to Your Hips!by Janet and Greta Podleski

8 thoughts on “muffin mondays: meghan’s sweet potato bran muffins

  1. Sheri Ward
    December 9, 2009 at 8:29 am

    great post, Megs! You started off my Wednesday with a laugh….you’re so funny! And the muffins look so good I can almost smell them. I will be making these in the next few days!
    love you!
    Fellow Muffin Mondayer,
    Aunt Sheri

  2. December 9, 2009 at 9:48 am

    I can feel the love!

    1. January 1, 2013 at 10:35 am

      – I’m headed to a cfefoe playdate this morning and made these last night, because I always bring the muffins! These are fantastic! Super moist and the crumb topping puts them over the top.Thank you for sharing another great recipe AND for sharing the fact that bananas can be frozen. I always feel like I have to bake them into a loaf on banana bread on the spot. May 22, 2009 12:15 pm[]

  3. Doug Ward
    December 9, 2009 at 10:53 am

    I am expecting great things over Christmas break. Does this recipe go with a Butcher’s Breakfast?

  4. December 10, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Glad to brighten your Wednesday, Aunt Sheri! Let me know how your batch goes!

    And I’ll be expecting a loaf of bread from the bread maker, Dad, to go with the annual Butchers Breakfast.

  5. Amanda
    December 11, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    These look wonderful! I love all things sweet potato, so I’m looking forward to trying these!

  6. Mary
    September 29, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    A good friend’s husband is going through chemo which makes him nauseated and the anti-nausea med makes him constipated. He loves chocolate so I’m going to put chocolate chips in these instead of the currants and see what happens. I think they’ll be good because pumpkin and chocolate muffins are divine. If it’s awful, I’ll let you know.
    Mary in Chapel Hill