Phil's Bran Muffins

There are three words that I associate with my dad: apples, whole wheat, and bran. This recipe has all three, so it is indeed another one from our pops, Phil.

I asked the bros, Andy and Jeremiah, if they had any particular memories associated with dad’s bran muffins and Andy’s response was 100% concurrent with the memories I was conjuring to write this post.

Andy texted, “Bran Muffin + butter…..” Followed by the drooling emoji, of course.

Butter is amazing, and is obviously delicious with just about any muffin, but when it comes to bran muffins, somehow having one without butter seems sacrilegious.

Maybe it’s because butter is capable of coaxing along confections that might be challenged in the texture or moisture department. It can fill in the cracks, soaking in wherever needed, granting passage to a world of creamy comfort. With just a touch of salt as its final note before offering the glorious experience all over again during your next bite, how could you even consider passing up this timeless condiment?

Wow, I think I need to go eat some butter now. If only I had a side of bran muffin to go with it…

But please don’t mistake my musings on butter to mean that this recipe is in any way lacking in deliciousness. As with our dad’s Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls, his bran muffin recipe also evolved over time. So while there may have been a period where his bran muffin experiments were less than perfect, the version you have here still packs all that fiber punch with or without any assistance from your favorite dairy (or non-dairy!) butter. Although, I don’t personally see any need to break tradition now, so please pass that melty creamy treasure my way, ASAP.

One thing to mention is that since I began making these muffins myself, I’ve learned that sourcing bran as an ingredient can be tricky. While bran is clearly a consistent theme in the kitchen of my childhood, it’s not exactly the most common product.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome to the stage: CEREAL.

Another place I remember always seeing bran at our house was in the cereal cabinet. Kellogg’s kept us well stocked with either a box of All-Bran or, my preferred choice because it was actually a little sweet, Cracklin’ Oat Bran. I just googled ‘bran cereal’ to confirm these titles, and the visual of Cracklin’ Oat Bran’s blue box transported me right back to standing in the kitchen of our youth.

Probably in the neighborhood of 4 ft tall, dressed in my favorite oversized yellow Cheerios shirt serving as a nightgown, fresh from a nice long sleep (remember that feeling??). I would face the pantry with all the cereal boxes lined up in a row on their own shelf, and debate my breakfast. I recall many childhood mornings started something like this:

Little Kate concentrates on the 4 to 5 cereal boxes in front of her. Her eyes dart between the options. She side-eyes the big blue box. To herself she ponders.

“Dad usually eats that one, so it can’t be too bad. Although… last time I asked him for a bite I don’t remember wanting a second one. Maybe if I top it with frozen blueberries?”

Little Kate glances down at her sleep shirt and chuckles to herself.

“Who am I kidding, dad can have that blue box. Why would I eat sweet sawdust when I’m team Cheerios with bananas for LIFE?!”

It’s true though. It was probably only when I started going to friend's houses for sleepovers and they didn’t have Cheerios OR bananas available for breakfast [gasp] that I begrudgingly deviated from my tried and true favorite combo.

I wonder if anyone has ever tried to make muffins with Cheerios?

Juuuuust kidding, but also kind of not kidding. They’re SO good! But let’s circle back to the whole reason I launched into the subject of cereal to start with. Since there were times when regular wheat bran was hard to come by in the local grocery, my parents would often substitute with bran cereal when making muffins.

I seem to recall All-Bran being first choice. Mostly because I have a memory of watching it being measured for the recipe and thinking the bits of cereal looked like little edible twigs poking out of the silver measuring cup. Although some might debate me on the edible factor – Oooooh, Bran Burn!!

Hahnestly, where is that air horn when you need it?

Bet you didn’t expect an air horn reference in a blog post about bran muffins, did you? Neither did I, but that’s what keeps life interesting!

Back to the point being that you can substitute with the widely available All Bran cereal, but I’d imagine you might decrease the sugar slightly and also consider slightly more liquid when doing so. Thankfully, I was able to find good old regular bran when I whipped up this last batch so I admit I have yet to revisit this twig, oh wait, I mean cereal strategy.

And speaking of measurements, how ‘bout we launch into the recipe itself?


  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup bran
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans are our favorites)
  • 2 apples, shredded*
  • ¼ oil (or melted butter, yum)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine dry ingredients and mix. Stir shredded apples into dry ingredients. In a separate bowl combine oil, eggs, and buttermilk and beat. Pour liquid into dry; gently stir until combined. Bake in prepared muffin pan for 15 to 20 min. Makes 12 muffins.

*We usually use a cheese grater to shred the apples. No need to peel the skin first, and if you grate the apple down to the core from a few angles it goes quickly!

Ok, now you have the recipe, please excuse me while I scoot out to stock up on my preferred yellow box of cereal and the perfectly coordinated bananas.

It only just dawned on me why my first favorite color was yellow… we’ll eventually have to explore why my second favorite color was black.

But that’s another day!

So until then,



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