Now let me say this: when you’re traveling a good cloak is worth more than all your other possessions put together. If you’ve nowhere to sleep, it can be your bed and blanket. It will keep the rain off your back and then sun from your eyes. You can conceal all manner of interesting weaponry beneath it if you are clever, and a smaller assortment if you are not.
But beyond all that, two facts remain to recommend a cloak. First, very little is as striking as a well-worn cloak, billowing lightly about you in the breeze. And second, the best cloaks have innumerable little pockets that I have an irrational and overpowering attraction toward.
— The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, 5/5 stars
The Name of the Wind is difficult to summarize, but I will recommend it by way of its hero, Kvothe, who relies on his wit over his muscles and recognizes a smart poetic meter when he sees one. While a clever and more artistic hero than we traditionally see (he’s a far cry from a more classic fantasy hero like an Aragorn archetype), he’s not without his faults and I have no doubt that his impatience and arrogance will be his downfall in future books.
Kvothe never munched on a Pumpkin-Cranberry Bran Muffin in the course of his adventures. There were plenty mentions of food — lots of bread and cheese, plenty of stews. But one thing that stood out to me during this novel was how much it felt like fall. Maybe it was all the talk of cloaks and school semesters, the rustic inns and food, but instead of recreating anything Kvothe ate, I wanted something to capture the fall, rustic feel of this novel.
It doesn’t get much more rustic than a hearty bran muffin. I adapted this recipe from Smitten Kitchen’s blue sky bran muffins. Pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg provide lovely autumn flavors and the cranberries add a tart, fresh burst. The trickiest part of this recipe was tempering the tartness of the cranberries. I considered using dried, but I wanted to keep the fresh kick they provided. You can always substitute dried, but if you’re using the fresh cranberries, I recommend preparing the berries the night before, directions provided below.
Pumpkin-Cranberry Bran Muffins (adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s blue sky bran muffins)
yields 12 muffins
For the cranberries: (the night before baking the muffins)
1 cup of cranberries, rinsed and sliced in half
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 cup of water
2 teaspoons of granulated sugar
For the muffins:
1/3 cup of pumpkin
1 large egg
1/4 cup of tightly packed brown sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 and 1/3 cups of buttermilk (I add milk to 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes)
1 and 1/2 cups of wheat bran (or All-Bran ground to a flour in a food processor)
1 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of the sugared cranberries
- The night before baking the muffins, heat the 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water on medium heat, stirring until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes before pouring the syrup over the sliced cranberries. Soak in the fridge overnight. Right before baking the muffins, drain the cranberries and toss with 2 teaspoons of sugar. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and coat a muffin tin with nonstick spray.
- Combine the wheat bran, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Whisk together the pumpkin, egg, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small mixing bowl. Once thoroughly mixed, slowly whisk in the buttermilk. Stir wet mixture into the dry mixture. Fold the sugared cranberries into the batter.
- Spoon 3 tablespoons of batter into each muffin tin. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out almost clean. Allow muffins to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from tin.
Fair warning: these muffins are almost as addictive as denner resin. Almost.