I came up with this recipe on a Sunday morning. I had almost no fruit in the house since I just returned from a business trip, but wanted to make some interesting muffins. I never seem to use chai tea bags when I buy them, and I thought it might be a comforting muffin flavor. I tried 2 tea bags (the number remaining in one of the two boxes of chai in my cupboard – I told you I don’t use them! but I think 3 or more would give a stronger chai flavor. The tea I used happened to be vanilla chai, but any chai will work.
I will also note that I was riffing off an existing banana oat bran muffin recipe. It’s a good starting point if you understand how little things affect muffins (i.e. amount of liquid, inclusion of fruit, kind of fruit used, etc.). Muffins can be a little complicated – I have been making them for a long time and yet I still sometimes have trouble getting the texture I want. I was pleasantly surprised at how this experiment came out. Even with the oat bran the crumb was soft on the inside and perfectly crunchy on the outside.
The honey is optional – the recipe should work without it. I used buckwheat honey I picked up at a farmer’s market a couple of weeks ago. It’s said to be more nutritious and has a stronger, molasses-like flavor to it than most honeys. It wasn’t necessary for the recipe, but I like incorporating it into things (like the maple honey butter I made a few weeks ago!).
You could probably replace the oat bran with wheat bran or even just plain flour, but I prefer oat bran to wheat, which has a less pleasant texture, and I can’t tell you how replacing the bran with flour will affect the end product.
Chai Muffins Recipe
3-5 chai tea bags
1 cup of milk
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/8 cup honey (optional)
1/2 tsp salt (I used ground sea salt, table salt will work just as well)
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup oat bran
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp cream of tartar
Place milk and tea bags in sauce pan over medium low heat. Watch the milk carefully – stir occasionally and once the milk reaches a simmer you should leave on the heat for about 4 minutes, then remove.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a muffin tin with paper or silicone muffins cups (or grease tin). I needed 10 cups (rather than 12). Cream the softened butter, brown sugar and honey together. When well blended add the egg and stir until well-combined. Add the flour, baking powder, cream of tartar and oat bran. Stir until just combined.
The milk/chai combination should be off the stove by now and cooled slightly. Add it and stir again until just combined. If the mixture is very watery, add a small amount of flour (1 tbs at a time – I only added one) and stir to combine. As usual, it’s important not to over-mix muffins.