Bran Muffins, Hold The Sawdust

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For years, I deluded myself into thinking that ordering a bran muffin for breakfast was a healthy choice. Bran helps lower cholesterol, right? Right. Bran is high in fiber which promotes digestive health, right? Right. So it figures that bran muffins are better for you  than, say, 2 fried  eggs with hash browns and toast, right?  Not necessarily, especially when they’re dense and super moist (read lots and lots of fat and sugar).  But I love bran muffins and have been on a quest for one that isn’t heavy like a soft, brown brick or, worse, dry and throat-catching like hamster-cage shavings. After years of playing around (turning saw-dust-like failures into toppings for fruit crumbles) I think this one is pretty spot on!  One caveat: even though these muffins are moist and delicious they are definitely best the same day.

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I soak dried cranberries and apricots with some of the bran cereal and stir in a good amount of ripe bananas which help with moistness.

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Spray the paper liners with vegetable spray to keep it from sticking to the muffins. And be sure not to over bake. The tops should be springy and the toothpick should come out with a few moist crumbs attached.

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BANANA-BRAN MUFFINS WITH APRICOTS AND CRANBERRIES 

Active: 15 min; Total: 35 min

Makes 12 standard muffins

½ cup mixed dried fruit (such as cranberries, diced apricots and golden raisins)

½ cup twiggy bran cereal (such as Fiber One, All-bran), lightly crushed

1 cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup oat bran

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 medium)

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

½ cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoon unsulphured molasses

1 extra large egg

Butter and jam for serving

1.    Preheat the oven to 375° and line a muffin tin with paper liners. Spray the liners with vegetable spray (optional, but this lets the muffins release very cleanly). In a small microwave safe container, cover the dried fruit with 1/2 cup of water and microwave on high power for 1 minute, until slightly plumped. Stir in the bran cereal and let sit until softened, about 3 minutes. Drain the mixture pressing out the excess water. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the oat bran, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.

       2. In a large bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer beat the bananas, butter, brown sugar and molasses on medium speed until smooth. Add the egg along with the soaked fruit and cereal  and beat just until combined. On low speed, beat in the dry ingredients until moistened. Divide the batter between the muffin cups and bake in the center of the oven until risen, golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly in the pan, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool further. Serve warm or at room temperature with butter and jam.

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