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*This* is the muffin that started it all.  I’ve baked things as long as I can remember, but I got serious about muffins in the early days of my courtship with my now husband, Paul.  I discovered he was paying $1.25 each and every day for a chocolate chip banana muffin from one of the campus coffee shops, so I baked up a batch of banana chocolate chip muffins of my own.  Time went on, Paul got increasingly serious about endurance sports, and thus increasingly conscious about what he was eating, and  I was in the midst of my third and final (cause it stuck!) stint with Weight Watchers, and was always looking for ways to cut points out of my day but still feel satisfied.   I remembered some dabbling I had done a while back with replacing the fat in baked goods with other things, so I started playing around with a bran muffin recipe, and thus my infamous fat-free-low-sugar-packed-full-of-fiber bran muffin recipe was born.

The recipe I will post for you today has gone through many evolutions.  Some of you may have an earlier version in your repertoire, and while I still think the earlier versions are good, I think this one is better.

I like to add some fruit to my bran muffins.  Fresh is always best, and in the summer months big plump juicy blueberries or blackberries add fantastic flavour and moisture to these muffins.  If you use dried fruit, which I often do when fresh isn’t available, it’s really important to pre-soak in some hot water.  If you don’t soak it, your dried fruit will rob moisture from your muffin as it bakes, resulting in a drier muffin in the end.  I think the pre-soak is a big part of why when people bite into one of these muffins for the first time they have a hard time believing there isn’t any added fat.  I pretty much always have a cup of tea on the go, so when I boil the water for my tea I just pour some over my chopped dates (the fruit in the muffins pictured here) or raisins.  You want to *just* cover the fruit with water and let it soak while prepping the rest of the ingredients.  Fruit goes in last, so there’s plenty of time for a nice little soak while you’re working, you don’t have to do this in advance.  Depending on how much liquid is left at the end of the soaking time, you’ll want to drain off all or most of it before adding to the muffin mix.

You can add anything you like to this recipe.  I’ve played around with adding grated carrots, which is yummy, or a couple of tablespoons of flax seeds, which adds nice crunch.  Sometimes I substitute in some oats for some of the bran.  There aren’t really any rules, but this will give you a nice platform to work from.

Bran Muffin Recipe:
This recipe yields 12 large muffins.  We always have a bag in the freezer, and grab a couple out of the freezer each morning.

1 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup loose packed brown sugar
2 eggs
3 cups wheat bran
1 cup milk*
1 cup water*
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup fresh fruit or 1/2 cup dried fruit, pre-soaked

Preheat oven to 400 F, and prepare 12 muffin cups.  Mix wet ingredients together.  Stir dry ingredients together so ingredients are well mixed, add to wet, and stir to combine until ingredients are just mixed.  Careful you don’t over mix, that can result in a tougher muffin.  Add fruit.  Spoon equally into 12 muffin cups.  Bake for 20 minutes, until tops are firm.  Cool first for about 15 min in the muffin cups before you attempt to take them out, then cool on wire racks, or, just rest the muffins on their sides in the muffin cups.

* the original recipe I started from called for all milk.  I generally use half water half milk, but you could use all water or all milk.  You’ll get a slightly softer muffin if you use all milk, and a slightly more crisp crust on the muffin tops if you use all water.
All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2010