Our Old-Fashioned Bramble Muffins are prepared with Scottish brambles otherwise known as wee wild blackberries. But you can also use ordinary blackberries. Our sweet muffins are egg-free and dairy-free so they are great for vegans, plant-based diets, egg allergies, dairy allergies, as well as for those who just love budget-friendly old-fashioned homely bakes.
Additionally, we provide details for two muffin variation recipes - Vegan Blueberry Muffins and Vegan Mixed Berry Crumble Muffins which have the most delicious crunchy Cinnamon Crumble Topping.
Bramble Muffins are sweet muffins that are enriched with juicy, fruity and tangy brambles. These muffins are old-fashioned because the Scots and Brits have been adding brambles to their bakes for centuries as they were widely available and essentially a free food. Bramble are small wild blackberries so they can be easily replaced with regular blackberries.
- 📜 What are old-fashioned bramble muffins?
- 🗺️ Bramble folklore
- 🍃 Where to find brambles
- 🥣 How to prepare bramble muffins
- ⭐ Recipe variation - vegan blueberry muffins
- ⭐ Recipe variation - Mixed berry crumble topped muffins
- ⭐ Crumble topping recipe
- 📋 Recipe notes
- ⏲️ Storing
- ❓ FAQ'S
- 💭 Three top tips
- 🧁 More vegan old-fashioned muffins & little cakes
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
📜 What are old-fashioned bramble muffins?
Old-fashioned bramble muffins are a type of sweet muffin that feature brambles or their domestic counterparts - blackberries. In theory the term "bramble" usually refers to any rough, tangled, prickly shrub, usually in the genus Rebus, which includes fruits like blackberries and raspberries, although in Scotland brambles are wee wild blackberries.
In Scotland, as well as Britain, adding brambles to home baking and homely recipes has been common for centuries and there are many recipes for - bramble puddings, bramble pies and tarts, bramble jam, bramble jelly, junket, blackberry fool, bramble cakes, blackberry buns, and of course bramble muffins. Brambles were also used for cordials, wine, tea, and ale, as well as added to old-fashioned salads. An old recipe for Blackberry Salad states to mush very ripe warm blackberries with some sugar and then to pour some red wine over the berries!
Muffins themselves have a long history and are believed to have originated in either Europe or the United States. The word "muffin" likely comes from the Old French word "moufflet," and in reference to bread it means soft. A muffin is rather like a soft bread in texture.
🗺️ Bramble folklore
It is thought that there are three stages for the bramble season - in early September the brambles are nice and juicy so delicious eaten raw, in late September the brambles are best for pies, jams and other bakes, and in October the brambles are full of seeds so are best cooked with apples. For more information see Dorothy Hartley ''Food in England'' [pg 427-429].
According to an old British saying from the early 18th century, you should not pick brambles after Michaelmas (September 29) because it was believed that the devil has ''put his foot on them'' after this date, although the exact date of Michaelmas differs depending on the region so could be anywhere from 29th September to 10-11 October! For more information see Steve Roud ''The English Year'' [pg 414].
Interestingly, I mentioned this wee titbit of information to my daughter on the 11 October and she did say that she had walked past a bramble bush on her way home from her allotment and the brambles were looking ''a bit frightening''!
Other common folklore beliefs were that bramble bushes were thought to have magical properties as they provided protection against evil spirits and were often used in folk medicine - such as crawling through a bramble bush in the hopes that you would be cured from whatever ailment was causing grief! Perhaps being prickled with the sharp thorns made you quickly forget your previous issues!
Brambles were also considered to be a plant that could provide access to the faerie realms so some traditional tales would caution against sleeping under a bramble bush for fear of being taken away by the fairies!
🍃 Where to find brambles
Brambles, which are essentially wee wild blackberries, are commonly found in various environments especially temperate regions such as Britain, Europe, US, Canada, and South Australia. Your likely to find Brambles in woodlands, hedgerows, riverbanks, waste land and vacant lots, roadsides, parks and nature reserves, mountain and hilly areas, edges of farmland and country lanes, and of course your own garden!
Our daughter foraging for brambles, late summer-early autumn on a Scottish Island, in the Inner Hebrides. As we are in the rural Highlands our brambles ripen quite late in the season. She does like to dive deep into the bushes in her bramble quest! We always source the berries high from the ground and away from roadsides, and leave plenty for the wildlife. For responsible foraging guidelines do consult this useful information provided by woodlandtrust.org.uk.
🥣 How to prepare bramble muffins
These are nice and easy muffins, and the only frustrating part is the fact that sometimes the fruit juice may leak into the muffin batter but really this doesn’t matter much as they are home-made and wonky muffins just add to their homely appeal!
Instead of brambles you can use shop-bought blackberries, either fresh or frozen, but if they are quite large they can be sliced into two pieces, as brambles are usually quite small berries.
Alternatively, other berries can be used and we have prepared delicious blueberry muffins as well as mixed berry muffins with a crumble topping using this recipe as a basis and making a few changes.
Our two muffin variations are included within the recipe notes of the main recipe card and you can scroll down to see photos underneath this section.
Step 1: First gather all your ingredients - milk, apple sauce, self-raising flour, cinnamon powder, baking powder, salt, vegetable oil, vanilla essence, brown sugar, and brambles. We used frozen brambles but you can also use fresh brambles or a different fresh or frozen berry.
Step 2: Stir the milk, vegetable oil, apple sauce, and vanilla together in a bowl. We used ordinary apple sauce from a jar, the type intended for serving with savoury meals.
Step 3: Stir the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together in a mixing bowl.
Step 4: Pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl and stir until just mixed.
Step 5: Next, carefully stir through the brambles.
Step 6: Divide the muffin mix between 12 muffin cups.
Step 7: Optional: Pop a few extra berries over each muffin and sprinkle with demerara sugar.
Step 8:. Bake for 25 minutes until risen, firm, and a skewer popped in the centre comes out clean.
Step 9: Cool in the pan for a few minutes before removing the muffins to a cooling rack. The muffins can be eaten warm or cooled.
⭐ Recipe variation - vegan blueberry muffins
Blueberry muffins can be prepared the same method as the bramble muffins using the same core ingredients. However, we omitted the cinnamon and instead added the zest of a lemon as lemony flavours pair beautifully with blueberries.
For our blueberry muffins we used frozen blueberries and while stirring the blueberries through the muffin batter they did leak their juices quite a bit despite stirring carefully. However although the unbaked batter looked a tad purple the baked muffins were less so!
The blueberries that are added to the top of each muffin before baking did burst over the muffin and combined with the demerara sugar to create a juicy jammy blueberry top that was just irresistible. These are certainly nicely rustic blueberry muffins!
These blueberry muffins are studded with deliciously jammy blueberries. Sometimes people like to dust their berries with some flour before stirring through the cake batter as doing so may help to avoid the fruits sinking to the bottom of the muffins, however, we didn't dust our blueberries and our berries were distributed just fine.
⭐ Recipe variation - Mixed berry crumble topped muffins
This muffin recipe variation produces mixed berry muffins that are huge, rustic, and with homely sprawling muffin-tops! We did suggest to our kids that we could tidy the muffin recipe up a little and make them more uniform but they were not having it! One replied that was the best bit about muffins - the rustic appearance! And we do have to agree as we would much rather our traditional bakes actually looked home-made with love!
***We have included all the details for this recipe variation within the bramble muffins recipe notes below the main recipe.***
For this mixed berry muffin variation we replaced the brambles with frozen mixed berries - the package contained a mix of blackberries, raspberries, black currants and red currants. We also switched out the apple sauce for raspberry jam.
Just like the main recipe the frozen mixed berries are stirred through the muffin batter, and we like to keep some berries aside for adding to the top of each muffin.
Once mixed, the batter is divided between the muffin cases.
Top each muffin with a few berries and then sprinkle over the crumble topping. [You can find the full crumble topping recipe in the main recipe notes below the main bramble muffin recipe.]
Bake until well risen, golden, and lovely muffin tops have erupted!
Cool on a wire rack.
These juicy mixed berries are perfect for Halloween baking treats and are so especially tasty enjoyed with a nice cup of tea!
⭐ Crumble topping recipe
For the crumble topping you will need - plain or all-purpose flour, demerara sugar [or any brown sugar], vegan margarine [we like to use Stork baking spread], and ground cinnamon. Although this can be replaced with a ground spice that you prefer or it can be omitted.
Step 1: Melt the margarine in a saucepan.
Step 2: Add the flour, sugar, and cinnamon to a bowl, and mix.
Step 3: Stir the melted margarine through the flour mixture until it clumps together. Keep stirring and it will firm up, and use a cutlery knife or spoon to slice the crumble into small pieces. The crumble will be wet at first but with stirring and slicing, and then sitting while the muffins are prepared, it will become more crumbly.
Step 4: Using your finger tips crumble the mixture evenly over each of the 12 muffins.
📋 Recipe notes
Muffins are at their freshest soon after baking but if the muffins have a sugar topping or a crumble topping they will keep best in a loose fitting container with a layer of kitchen paper or a paper towel at the bottom, and another paper towel over the top of the muffins. The paper towels will help absorb excess moisture which could lead to the crisp sugar topping becoming soggy as the muffins are stored. Alternatively, instead of paper towels use parchment or baking paper.
The muffins will store well for 3-4 days somewhere cool and dry. If its quite warm they can be stored within the refrigerator.
If you baked the muffins with a crumble topping the crumble will still have crunchy bits for 2-3 days after baking if stored correctly.
Muffins can be frozen for 2-3 months, wrap each muffin in food-safe wrap and place them into a freezer bag or container.
If you would like to re-crisp your muffins crunchy sugar top then the best way is to pop them into a warm oven [about 150 Fan, 170 C, 338 Fahrenheit, Gas 3] for about 5-10 minutes and then once removed the sugar will crisp up as it cools slightly.
If your muffins have gone a little dry, although these muffins were still moist enough on day 3-4, you can split the muffin in half and toast the insides before spreading with a pat of vegan butter or margarine.
Freezing brambles is very easy and it doesn't affect their flavour in the slightest. This is how we freeze our brambles:
1. First thing is to clean the brambles either by gently rinsing them under cold water in a colander or sieve, or by placing them first into a basin of water with a few tablespoons of salt or vinegar. Soak the berries for 5 minutes before draining and rinsing well. While rinsing be carefully not to crush the berries.
2. Next spread the brambles out over some kitchen towels or paper towels and pat them dry. The brambles can be left for an hour or so to air dry completely. Its important to dry the brambles as any water drops left on the brambles will also freeze and could affect the brambles texture and flavour.
3. To freeze we usually just place the brambles into a freezer-safe food bag or food container, but other people like to line a baking tray with parchment paper and spread out the brambles in an even layer and then place the tray into the freezer for several hours or until the berries freeze.
4. Once frozen the individual brambles can be placed into a container or food bag. Make sure that the brambles are sealed properly and that any air in the freezer bag is squeezed out before sealing.
5. The brambles will keep in the freezer for up to a year. We have used last years brambles for this years bakes and they tasted perfect.
6. The brambles can be used directly from the freezer for baking, smoothies, jam, adding to porridge, etc.
Yes, you can use shop-bought blackberries but as these are usually much larger than bramble berries you may prefer to slice each blackberry into two pieces so that the berries can be distributed throughout the muffin. As brambles are only in season for a short while using shop-bought berries or even frozen foraged brambles is a good idea so that you can prepare bramble muffins whenever you like.
Image below: This photo illustrates the difference in size between our four foraged bramble berries and our three shop-bought blackberries!
We have used frozen blueberries, as well as frozen mixed berries, to prepare this recipe and the muffins turned out beautifully. Other fruits you can try are raspberries, red currants, black currants, or any other berry you like. The berries can be either frozen or fresh.
Yes of course. The ground cinnamon adds extra flavours but you can omit it or add a different ground spice such as - ginger, nutmeg, mixed spice, pumpkin spice, or apple pie spice.
We used jarred Bramley apple sauce, which can be found at stores like Lidl or Aldi in the UK. However, any variety of apple sauce or jarred apple puree will work well. The apple sauce we used wasn't entirely smooth and contained small apple chunks, but it still works well.
You can even use a simple home-made apple sauce by peeling, coring and chopping 2-3 medium-sized eating apples into small pieces. Pop the apples into a saucepan, adding enough water just to barely cover the bottom of the pan, and cook the apples over a medium heat until they become nice and soft. Stir frequently and add extra water just to stop it sticking if necessary. Once soft use a potato masher to mash the apples into a smoother consistency, although you can leave very small chunks as it won't affect the muffins rather it will provide extra juicy textures.
If you don't have apple sauce, mashed bananas or pureed pears can work as a replacement. For our mixed berry muffins variation we used 3 tablespoons of seedless thick raspberry jam instead of the apple sauce and this worked perfectly.
No, we have baked these muffins previously without muffin baking cases and they were fine. If you don't wish to grease the muffin cups with oil or margarine you will have to make sure that you use a completely non-stick muffin pan. Although whenever we use a non-stick muffin tray we still grease the muffin pan just in case! As the muffins can become baked on to the sides if they spill over a little, especially any hot fruits as they can turn to jam like consistency!
For this recipe we use demerara sugar as this provides a nice crunchy texture and caramelly flavour.
However, you can also use one of the following: Turbinado sugar, sanding sugar, raw sugar, or sugar pearls or nibs.
Alternatively, if you have access to white or brown sugar cubes you can crush these up into small but chunky pieces and use those for a rustic topping.
To keep the sugar topping crisp, store the muffins in a paper bag or loosely cover them in an airtight container.
Including a paper towel at the bottom of the container can help absorb excess moisture, which may help in keeping the sugar topping crisp.
You can place another paper towel between layers of muffins if you're stacking them, as well as a paper towel on top of the muffins. This can be particularly useful if you're storing them for a few days.
If the topping goes soft, you can refresh the muffins in a warm-hot oven for about 5-10 minutes to crisp up the sugar again.
Yes, you can omit the sugar topping if preferred.
We do provide a crumble topping recipe for our mixed berry muffins variation and you can use the crumble recipe for the bramble muffins instead of the demerara sugar topping.
These Mixed Berry Muffins have the best crumble topping that becomes baked into the muffin to create a huge muffin top that has sweet crispy and chewy bits. The mixed berries give tangy jammy pops that blend so well with the sweet cinnamon flavours of the soft muffin crumb. They have all the flavours of a home-baked fruit crumble or a fruit crisp if your in the US!
💭 Three top tips
1. Don't overmix! When incorporating the brambles or other fruits into your muffin batter, mix gently to avoid crushing the berries and releasing too much juice. Excessive juice may create streaks of colour in the finished muffin, but this doesn't affect the muffins texture or flavour and it can look pretty if its just a little streaking!
2. When checking if the muffins are baked, insert a skewer carefully into the middle of the muffin to check if there is any unbaked batter. Aim for a spot close to a berry but not through one, and the skewer should come out clean or with just a few crumbs. If the skewer comes out with fruit juice then check another area close by.
3. Fill up the muffin cups! When adding the muffin batter to the paper muffin cases don't be afraid to fill them right up to the top! You won't over fill them as muffins are designed to quickly rise in the oven like little volcanoes and crack on the surface! So your muffins will bake just fine and they will come out the oven beautifully risen, domed, and looking just delicious. We specify the size of the muffin baking tray we used within the main recipe card to help you achieve the same muffins we baked.
Delicious just-baked Bramble Muffins can be enjoyed warm or at room temperature. The brambles are tasty pops of wild sweet-tanginess.
🧁 More vegan old-fashioned muffins & little cakes
We love muffins, cupcakes and wee buns as they are just the perfect home-made bake so naturally we have a growing collection of family favourite recipes to share with you.
If you like chocolate and coconut then you'll love our Old-Fashioned Coconut Buns as they have a firm crisp chocolate topping with a moist coconutty sponge.
And for treating your friends and family for Afternoon Tea these Old-Fashioned Granny Cakes will go down a treat.
For muffins that can be paired up with tasty soups and stews, or split in half and buttered, you can't go wrong with our delicious Old-Fashioned Bran Muffins and these Old-Fashioned Cornbread Muffins.
***please note: for US measurements click the 'US customary button' within the recipe and the measurements will switch to tablespoons, cups, and ounces.***
Old-Fashioned Bramble Muffins
- 12 cup muffin tray [our tray measured 14 x 11 inch, and each muffin cup measured 1½ inch deep and 3 inch wide]
- muffin baking cases
- Mixing bowl
- Measuring jug
- 450 grams self raising flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 200 grams soft brown sugar [light brown sugar]
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 80 mililitres vegetable oil [such as rapeseed, sunflower, or a light olive oil]
- 60 grams apple sauce [smooth or fine diced apple sauce or apple puree - jarred apple sauce is fine]
- 330 mililitres soya milk [or your usual milk]
- 200 grams brambles [small blackberries] [fresh or frozen, can also use blackberries]
Optional, for the topping
- 4 tablespoons demerara sugar [or any crunchy type of sugar, or sugar pearls or nibs]
- Preheat the oven to 180 Fan, 200C, 392 Fahrenheit, Gas 6.
- Pop a muffin case into each muffin cup.
- Add the milk, apple sauce, vanilla, and oil to a jug and stir together.1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 80 mililitres vegetable oil, 60 grams apple sauce, 330 mililitres soya milk
- Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl.450 grams self raising flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Add the salt, cinnamon, and sugar to the flour, and stir.2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 200 grams soft brown sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt
- Pour the liquid ingredients into the flour mixture and stir until everything is just combined. Its important not to use an electric mixer as the muffin mix only needs a short mix.
- Keep a few of the brambles back to add to the muffin tops before they bake and stir the rest of the brambles into the muffin mixture carefully to avoid too much juices leaking.200 grams brambles [small blackberries]
- Divide the muffin mixture between the muffin cases. It will look like a lot of mixture but just divide it out.
- Scatter a few brambles over each muffin and sprinkle each muffin with one teaspoon of the demerara sugar.4 tablespoons demerara sugar
- Bake in the middle shelf of the oven for 18-20 minutes. For fan ovens check at the 17-18 minute mark as these types of ovens tend to bake faster. Muffins are ready when they are well risen, firm, and a skewer popped in the middle comes out clean apart from any fruit juice.
- Allow to cool in the muffin tray for just a few minutes before removing the muffins to a cooling rack.
- Enjoy warm or at room temperature.
- Nutritional data is for guidance only and is not an exact calculation as ingredients can vary.
- If you would like to re-crisp your muffins crunchy sugar top then the best way is to pop them into a warm oven [about 150 Fan, 170 C, 338 Fahrenheit, Gas 3] for about 5-10 minutes and then once removed the sugar will crisp up as it cools slightly.
- If you'd like to see photos of our two recipe variations then do have a look at the recipe variation sections that can be found under the how to prepare section. Just scroll back up from this recipe.
- Recipe variation - Vegan Blueberry Muffins
- For blueberry muffins switch out the brambles for blueberries, either fresh or frozen, and instead of vanilla add the zest of 1 small lemon. Of course if preferred you can also add the vanilla.
- Recipe variation - Vegan Mixed Berry Muffins with a Crumble Topping:
- For these muffins switch out the brambles for mixed berries -either fresh or frozen [we used a frozen mixed berries which contained blackberries, raspberries, red currants and black currants]. These muffins can be baked with a crumble topping. We made a few changes with these muffins - we switched out the apple sauce for 3 tablespoons of seedless raspberry fruit jam [Co-op (UK) own brand of jam. But you can still use apple sauce if you prefer.
- Crumble topping recipe [prepare this before you start the muffins]:
- Melt 3 tablespoons [45 grams]of margarine or vegan butter. Place 4 ¾ tablespoons [65 grams] of demerara sugar [or dark brown sugar], 6 tablespoons [50 grams] of plain [all-purpose flour], and ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon to a mixing bowl.
- Stir, then pour in the melted margarine and mix well.
- Use a cutlery knife to slice up the crumble into smaller pieces but it doesn't need to be very small.
- Once mixed the crumble may look a little wet but as it sits it will dry out more. Once the muffin mixture is in the muffin cases, top the muffins with a few extra berries that you can hold back from the main mix, and then crumble the mixture over the muffins.
- Bake as per the main recipe but increase the baking times to 23 minutes before checking for doneness. If using a fan oven check at 20 minutes. Cool in the muffin tray for just a few minutes.
- These mixed berry muffins have large homely muffin tops! As they are so deliciously rustic! So to remove from the muffin tray use a knife to gently loosen the edges and then carefully pull the muffin up by the muffin top before supporting the base of the muffin, and it should come out easily. If necessary to crisp up the crumble topping you can pop them in a warm-hot oven for 5-10 minutes, but our crumble topping still had crunchy bits on day 3 and 4.
- For lots of useful and helpful recipe notes, FAQs, and photos of our recipe variations, do check out those sections above this recipe card.
Prepared our Old-Fashioned Bramble Muffins or perhaps you baked the Blueberry Muffins or the Mixed Berry Muffins with a Crumble Topping? Do pop back and drop us a comment below to let us know how you liked the recipe. It was be amazing if you could click the star ratings. Thanks so much, Jacq x