Sunday, February 26, 2017

Great Muffins from Rye Flour and Rye Bran

The Rye Baker by Stanley Ginsberg
The Rye Baker by Stanley Ginsberg
I had been busily making rye breads before Christmas, particularly having just received my latest bread cookbook, "The Rye Baker," by Stanley Ginsberg. Between the two new bread baking books, I made a lot of breads of many varieties, to be covered when guests were here over the holidays. I have my own electric grain mill, making quick work of grinding most things into flour; wheat berries, rye berries, Kamut Khorasan, red rice, dried garbanzo beans and more. The difficulty lies in that with rye, most breads call for at least medium rye, which is rye flour with the bran sifted out. Let me say, I spent a lot of time sifting the rye flour. That I need a better, faster way to accomplish that is a no-brainer. Since the holidays, however, I have still been noshing on the already made breads I have in the freezer.

Maple Bacon Rye Muffins
Maple Bacon Rye Muffins
That comes back to the fact of all the leftover rye bran that I had sifted out. I have lots and lots. I made some muffins a few weeks ago, using mainly the rye bran, and while they were good, they were not exciting. In the meantime, I had been reading about the whole grains and the problem with phytic acid, after talking with a friend whose doctor warned her against whole grains. This is a quote from one website,
"High-phytate foods, such as grains, nuts, and legumes, can raise the risk of iron and zinc deficiency. As a countermeasure, strategies such as soaking, sprouting and fermentation are often employed. For those who eat meat regularly, deficiencies caused by phytic acid are not a concern."

Another site to read is, and here is another quote:
"Some experts even suggest that it’s the phytic acid in whole grains and beans that lends them their apparent protective properties against cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes."

Most all of the whole grain breads I've been making call for very long, slow fermentation periods, some including overnight cold rising in the fridge. This slow fermentation mitigates phytic acid binding the minerals. Many of the newer bread recipes call for soaking and sprouting the grain, then drying and grinding, so that long soak also balances out any harm. But when it comes to the rye bran, which is culled from just plain rye berries not previously soaked, sprouted or other, the bran is then high in phytic acid. 

As one of the things to do is soak, I thought I would soak some of the rye bran in buttermilk (double whammy, as an acidic environment is also supposed to help, along with soaking in general). Then I read more and found that the soaking medium should be hot. And, that it requires a long soak. 

I mean, REALLY! What's a girl supposed to do to have a healthy breakfast anymore???

Maple Bacon Rye Muffin texture
Maple Bacon Rye Muffin texture
Long and short, a few days back I thought I would heat some buttermilk and soak the rye bran while prepping the rest of the ingredients to make some more muffins, and have done with it. I am not vegetarian, so I shouldn't fall into the risk of iron and zinc deficiency. All this aside, most readers will not own their own electric grain mill, grind their own rye berries to make bread, and sift out rye bran. And if this is the case, oat bran would work just as well in these muffins. Rye flour is easily found these days. Bob's Red Mill carries at least 3 different grinds: Light Rye (the rye equivalent of white all-purpose flour, but with less gluten), Medium Rye (what I approximate when sifting out the bran), and Pumpernickel Rye (more coarsely ground and with all the bran and germ), plus all the organic options. There are other types and grinds, but these are the most easily available. I happened to have some of my sifted "medium rye flour" in a baggie I found pushed back behind some things, so decided also to use this in the recipe. 

Maple Flav-r Bites from KAF
Maple Flav-r Bites from KAF
Okay, so I knew what I was doing with the rye part of the recipe. I happened to have some bacon in the fridge. I don't eat it often, so I thought I would use some in the muffins. Maple is always an excellent flavor combination with bacon, so I used maple syrup as the sweetener. As a boost, because with a small amount of maple syrup, often the flavor is very muted, I also have Maple Flav-r-Bites from King Arthur Flour, so I used some of those. 

This time, the muffins were fantastic. Oh my! The texture was light and just perfect. Even my husband, generally not one to actually eat anything whole grain if he can help it, actually asked if he could have a couple! They must have smelled really good to him, too! He said they were great, and that is just about the biggest endorsement I could possibly give to a whole grained food! 

Maple Bacon Rye Muffins
Maple Bacon Rye Muffins
Maple Bacon Rye Muffins

Makes 12 regular sized muffins

1 cup buttermilk, heated
½ cup rye bran (or oat bran)
5 strips thick sliced bacon
¾ cup medium rye flour
¾ cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs 
¼ cup real maple syrup
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ cup Maple Flav-r-Bites, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the bran into the heated buttermilk in a medium bowl, stir, and set aside.

Cut the bacon across into ¼-inch pieces and fry until just crisped. Drain on paper toweling. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk or sift together the rye and all-purpose flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Add the eggs, maple syrup and melted butter to the bowl with the buttermilk and bran. Stir to mix well. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and stir to combine, then add in the Maple Flav-r-Bites and stir in.

Grease the wells of a 12-count muffin tin, using cooking spray. Divide the batter evenly between the 12 wells and bake the muffins for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out with only a crumb or two. 

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.