Bran Muffins

More than any other meal, when I think about my mom, I think about breakfast. Maybe it’s because she loves to bake, but not to cook; or maybe it’s because she’s famous (and notorious) for her breakfasts. She makes world-famous cinnamon rolls (there are Germans out there who’ve never met her and want her recipe), which is where the fame comes in. The notoriety comes in because, besides cinnamon rolls, she used to feed us brownies and chocolate cake for breakfast when we were kids and teenagers.

Along with dessert and cinnamon rolls, her bran muffins formed the trifecta of my mom’s best breakfast baking. Moist, warm, sweet, but also healthy. What more could you ask? This is what she fed us every test day from 1st grade to AP time. And despite that association, I still love them.

I played around with her recipe here: I substituted applesauce for the egg in her original. Her recipe also has oats in it, but since I’d already used up my oatmeal, I skipped that and just upped the volume of whole wheat flour. Despite its differences, though, this recipe ended up as full and delicious as I remember my mom’s.

The best way to eat these, in my opinion, is fresh from the oven with a pat of butter on them. The sweet butter, along with the applesauce and maple syrup, contrasts with the deep, earthly flavor of the bran and whole wheat flour. The recipe calls for bran cereal; any brand of pellet-like bran cereal will do. (If you don’t know what I mean by “pellet-like,” take a peek at All Bran or the original Fiber One cereals at your grocery store.)

The happy ending to these is that, despite being truly delicious, my mom was on to something when she fed them to us on test day: they are brain food, and thanks to the high fiber content, they’ll also keep you “full and focused,” to quote a cereal commercial. And I’d rather have a hot muffin over a cold bowl of cereal any day of the week.

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