*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.