the muffin that started it all

*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


  1. Maclean says

    These muffins turned out perfectly and are delicious! Other bran muffins I have tried in the past have been on the sweeter side but for me, these are perfect and the most prominent flavor is the bran!
    I used 1 c cashew milk and added raisins! Next time I think I will also add some shredded carrot, apple or zucchini!
    Thank you so much, your recipes never disappoint!
    xo from VanCity

  2. Susan says

    I am a bit confused…. do you use only 1 cup of either only water or only milk? The liquid for the muffins totalls to only 1 cup and not to 2 cups total?

    • themuffinmyth says

      It’s 2 cups liquid total. I usually do 1 cup of water and 1 cup of milk, but you could do 2 cups of either instead. At times I’ve even used 2 cups of water and a few Tbsp of skim milk powder if I’ve been out of or low on fluid milk. Does that clear things up?

  3. Leanne says

    I recently did a little research and found out how sugary my old go-to breakfast was and I was horrified! I will give these a go, they sounds perfect and look delicious!

    • themuffinmyth says

      They are good! If you’re looking for a good low sugar muffin though, I suggest the No Sugar Banana Branners. They’re my current favourite, and have been for quite some time. I hope you’ll give them a try! Welcome to The Muffin Myth, Leanne!

  4. Rivki Locker says

    I just discovered your blog today and am so glad I did. I just love the name of your site and this terrific story. These muffins do look wonderful. So pleased to have found you!
    — Rivki

  5. Yoginijennie says

    Katie, this page is brilliant! Can’t stop reading and I’m not really interested in either baking or cooking, but you make me feel like I really, really wanna try your recipes out!

    Thank you sweetheart for inspiring me!

    Looking forward to meeting you on the mat again in September!

    • themuffinmyth says

      Thanks Jennie! I’m glad you like it. Please pass along to all of the other amazing instructors who have been helping me with my yoga practice AND my Swedish! Check back weekly for new recipes. While I’m away I’m going to spend some quality time with my nemesis – hand balances. Maybe I’ll come back in September doing hand stands!

  6. Vicky says

    The muffin that started it all is yummy, and really good spread with a wedge of low-fat “Laughing Cow” cheese. Keeps me going all morning. What’s a lettuce barrier?…. Vicky

    • themuffinmyth says

      Cheese on muffins must be a Morrison thing. My mom loves hers with a slice of extra old white cheddar. The lettuce barrier is a Paul innovation for bulk sandwich production. I’ll likely do a full report on it around back to school time in Sept.

  7. Jan says

    this is great! ate a sandwich today, with the lettuce barrier, which of course is a genius katie/paul invention! dang i miss you!

  8. Joelle says

    Um… yum! So now I need to put down the donut and pick up the muffin, I guess. 😉 How many Points in these muffins, off-hand? Do you know? (I only ask since you mentioned WW)


    • themuffinmyth says

      It’s been a few years since I had access to the WW points calculating tools, but a former version of the muffins were 3 pts each. That version had molasses in the recipe in addition to the brown sugar, so I figure the current version is lower in points. When I was still doing WW I posted an earlier version of this recipe to the discussion boards and someone tried it with shredded carrot added, which I believe added even more fiber and further reduced the points. My best educated guess on the current version is somewhere between 2 – 3 pts. Enjoy!

  9. Dennis says

    OK … after seeing these pictures and having hear about these muffins, and now the recipe, no more excuses, I have to bake a batch of these muffins!! Looking forward to more posts Katie.

  10. Tim says

    We just baked a batch of these muffins with some blueberries… They tasted fantastic! The best bran muffins I’ve ever had!

  11. David Trant says

    2nd try at this. Well done Katie, we’ve all been waiting a long time for this. As I’ve told everyone I know ‘your muffins are the best’

  12. jacquie says

    Fabulous Katie!!
    I love it and am going to bake those muffins asap!
    I love all the tips and variations you added… look forward to more 🙂

  13. Anne Titcomb says

    Thanks so much Katie and really glad you are doing this, thanks for the recipe now with company coming for the summer, you know what its like at Soames Point!!!! See you soon.

  14. Sven says

    Yay! So happy that you have your blog up and running Katie… I promise to get back to with the results of my muffin baking endeavor!


  1. […] hit publish on the first ever post on The Muffin Myth seven years ago yesterday. Seven years! It seems like forever and nothing all at […]

  2. […] these molasses bran muffins look like they’re not much of a departure from The Muffin That Started It All, they’re not. At first I thought I wouldn’t bother posting this recipe because it is so […]

  3. […] freezer that Paul would have one to pack in his lunch every day until I got back. Mostly I made the classic bran muffin, with some minor modifications (I subbed mashed banana for the apple sauce and added some diced […]

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