Sunday, August 18, 2013

6 Week Bran Muffins and Book News from guest author Victoria Hamilton

Please welcome Victoria Hamilton to the Kitchen. She's sharing a recipe and news of her new mystery series. Take it away, Victoria! ~ Cleo

Like my heroine, Merry Wynter, of Bran New Death, (the first of the Merry Muffin Mystery series) I am a very good cook, but only an adequate baker. However, the things that I know I cannot mess up are muffins and quick breads, so I do a lot of banana bread, bran muffins, banana muffins, etc. I suppose this may have come from my mother—she did not go into fancy baking—however she made exceptional homemade bread, and I’ve never even tried that. 

And speaking of my mother…when I was in high school I worked a part time job at Kresge’s. Every Saturday after the store closed at five thirty I would run--and I do mean run (the bus left at five forty-five) to the Greyhound station and catch the bus to go to my parent’s trailer at the lake. After an hour and a quarter ride I would be dropped off on the highway near the trailer park slightly motion sick from driving into the sunset (makes me queasy!), and my mom would have a fresh batch of her refrigerator bran muffins waiting. The whole trailer would smell of the bran date goodness. 

I would have one or two as dinner, and all would be right with the world.

Mom and Dad both really liked bran muffins, so she made a big batch of batter that would last for weeks in the fridge, so she could scoop out some for fresh baked goodness any time. Here is an approximation of the recipe, and if you make it you, too, will have fresh muffins every day, or several dozen to give away!


Victoria Hamilton, bestselling mystery author, loves cooking, crafts, cats and tea drinking! However, cheap wine and a good karaoke song will lure her away from the tea. 

Check out Bran New Death and Victoria Hamilton’s other series, Vintage Kitchen Mysteries.

Website & Purchase Links: Victoria Hamilton Mysteries


6 Week
Bran Muffin Recipe

First, please note that this makes up a LOT of batter! When I say big bowls, I MEAN big bowls… I used the two largest bowls of the Pyrex Primary Colors set, and they were barely big enough. But the batter is so easy to make, and it means that if you have twenty minutes in the morning you can have fresh, hot-out-of-the-oven muffins any morning! This would also be a great recipe if you need a large amount to make muffins for a bake sale or church function.

Cooking Time: 20 min

Makes: Hope You Like Bran Muffins… A Whole Lot! 


15 ounces raisin bran cereal

3 Cups All Purpose Flour

2 Cups Whole Wheat flour

2 Cups White sugar

1 Cup Golden Brown sugar

5 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

4 eggs, beaten

1 cup oil

4 cups buttermilk


¾ lb. pitted dates, (plus 1 tsp. baking soda and boiling water just to cover)


1. If you are using dates… chop dates, then put in smallish bowl, sprinkle baking soda over them and cover with boiling water just to cover. The baking soda is necessary to break down and soften the skins. You can mash the dates some as they soften.

2. Mix wet ingredients together in the biggest bowl, then add raisin bran cereal and let sit for at least twenty minutes while you do the rest. If the dates are softened, you can add them to the wet ingredients at this point, with the liquid.

3. Mix dry ingredients thoroughly in another large bowl.

4. Mix dry blend into wet ingredients, mixing well, but not beating.

5. Refrigerate batter at least 6 hours before baking. 

6. Fill muffin tins or papers 2/3 full and bake at 400 degrees F for 20 min.

Note: The original recipe (I’ve made quite a few alterations to the original) claims that batter will keep in fridge for up to 6 weeks, so that you can bake a few at a time. I know my mom’s recipe did. The batter will get very thick and light colored, with a fluffy texture. Put it in a container with a tight lid.


Bran New Death, Book 1 of the Merry Muffin Mystery series by Victoria Hamilton, (Berkley Prime Crime) is out September 3rd!

Bran New Death

When Merry Wynter discovered that she inherited a genuine American Castle in the "wilds" of upstate New York, her first reaction was to contact a real estate agent to sell it, sight unseen. Things were a little complicated, what with a lunatic employer making her life miserable. But after losing her job and with the castle not sold, Merry decides to trek to Wynter Castle to see what the problem is.

One barrier to selling is immediately evident; someone is digging giant holes on the property! Merry accuses local Tom Turner of being her late night gopher and warns him to stay off her property, or else, but it happens again. Merry storms out to confront whomever is doing the damage, but doesn’t count on finding a dead man at the bottom of the hole.

What is going on at Wynter Castle and in Autumn Vale? How can Merry convince hunky sheriff Virgil Grace that she is not the one who bashed the victim over the head? 


Website & Purchase Links: Victoria Hamilton Mysteries

Visit Victoria on Facebook: 

This is a wonderful recipe, Victoria.  
Thank you for coming by to share it with us today. 
can't wait to mix up a batch of
these babies...
and dig into the pages
of your new mystery: 
Bran New Death

~ Cleo


  1. Recipe sounds good and the book sounds even better. I will give both a try.---Rae

    1. Thanks, Rae... I love these muffins! They are so good, and I'm going to try freezing the batter to see if it will keep that way, too!

  2. Welcome, Victoria! I'm still looking for the bran muffins I remember from my childhood--nothing since has tasted as good. I'll bet the dates make a difference (I'm pretty sure my mother wouldn't have told me about them, because I would have said "ick" at the time).

    One question: if you mix up the batter and keep it in the fridge, as you suggest, does the baking soda still work, or does it lose its oomph?

    1. My mom never had a problem with it. I think the batter develops air pockets, becoming kind of fluffy, which helps with the leavening. I'm going to bake up some more and see how they go, but it always worked for mom!

    2. I had the same question. How does the leavening stay "good"? I thought as soon as the wet and dry ingredients meet, the action begins. Yet I've heard of other recipes that encourage leaving the mix for days.
      Intriguing mystery.
      and the book sounds tasty, too.

  3. I used to make a refrigerator muffin recipe that kept a long time and I could make a few every morning. They were very good! I will definitely have to try this and I am looking forward to the book!

    1. I love the dates in these... so good! I know some people don't like raisins, but in that case you would just substitute plane bran flakes instead of the raisin bran. Works both ways. I meant to add in that you could add nuts, too, if you wanted!

  4. Thank you so much for joining us today, Victoria! These sound very good. And I love you new series. I can't imagine life in a castle -- what fun!


    1. Thanks, Krista... I'm fascinated by American castles... there are more than you would think. They tend not to be as big as English castles, but beautiful! I was inspired by Beardslee Castle in New York State.

  5. Im on a Book Tour for this book in September, looking forward to it! Thanks for the recipe! =)

    1. Thanks, Melissa... looking forward to it!

  6. Welcome Victoria! the muffins sound so good and the mystery does too! I love dates but I don't often use them--this is perfect. Thanks for visiting the Kitchen and good luck with the book!

    1. Thanks Lucy! I used dates in the Queen Elizabeth Cake I featured in A Deadly Grind, the first of the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, and I loved the cake so much, I added them to this recipe!

  7. Victoria, this is a great recipe! How nice to be able to pop them in the oven in the morning and enjoy them hot and fresh!

  8. Victoria - It's a pleasure to have you back in our Kitchen. These muffins are a must-make for me. I especially love the date trick of softening the texture with a baking soda-boiling water soak. Wonderful! And your "Bran New" mystery series sounds even more delightful, good luck with it and come on back now, y'hear?!

    ~ Cleo

    1. I'll be back... said in an ominous tone... I have a 3rd Vintage Kitchen Mysteries coming out on November 5th... Freezer I'll Shoot!!