There aren’t too many places in my neighborhood where you can buy muffin tops – at least, not without the bottom of the muffin still attached! There is one bakery that isn’t too far away, however, that still sells tasty muffin tops as well as whole muffins and sharing a few with friends put me in the mood to make some homemade muffin tops.
I opted to make bran muffin tops, but you can adapt just about muffin recipe to work in a muffin top pan. Muffin tops are much wider than regular muffins – about three inches in diameter – and hold about the same amount of batter as a muffin cup. The muffin top pan is a pretty important part of the equation here because dropping muffin batter straight onto a baking sheet won’t give them quite the right shape. Don’t worry if you don’t have a muffin top pan, I’ve noted the baking time below for making this recipe in a regular muffin tin.
The muffin tops use oat bran and oatmeal in them, both of which give them a nice texture and good, nutty oatmeal flavor. They aren’t coarse, like a muffin made with all bran. I added in a little bit of cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla extract to give them some dimension, and loaded them up with lots of raisins for extra sweetness. The raisins become plump and juicy during baking. You can mix up the dried fruit and use dried cranberries, cherries or blueberries instead, and you can add in about 2/3 cup of chopped nuts if you want to add a little crunch to your muffin tops, too.
Since bran muffins aren’t usually all that sweet when compared to berry-filled muffins, I really like to serve these warm with butter. That said, they’re still delicious on their own as a snack or as breakfast with a cup of hot coffee. These freeze well, so make the whole batch and freeze what you’re not going to eat within the first two days, then defrost the leftovers in the microwave or pop them in the toaster when you’re in the mood for a muffin top.
Oat Bran and Raisin Muffin Tops
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup oat bran
1/2 cup quick cooking oatmeal or rolled oats
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
2 cups raisins
Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease a 6-cup muffin top pan. (instructions below for regular muffin pan)
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, oat bran, oatmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, stir together butter, oil and brown sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in vanilla extract and spices. Mix in about 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk. Add in another 1/3 of the flour mixture, the remaining buttermilk and finally stir in the last of the flour mixture and all of the raisins.
Fill prepared muffin top pan with batter, filling each with a scoop the size of a generous ice cream scoop (roughly 1/3 cup for a 3-inch muffin top cavity).
Bake for 12-15 minutes, until muffin tops are set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Make sure your muffin pan is completely cooled, then lightly grease and do another batch. This recipe yields 18 muffin tops, so you will need to clean and cool your pan between batches, or make some in a muffin top pan and some in a regular muffin pan.
Cool muffin tops on a wire rack before serving.
Makes 18 large muffin tops.
To use a standard muffin pan: Make muffins as directed and divide batter evenly into 16 paper-lined muffin cups. Sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.