Chock-full of flavor and fiber, these Cinnamon Raisin Bran Breakfast Muffins are the perfect grab-and-go food to help ease you and your kids back into the morning school routine.

Quick and easy to make, these muffins are a wonderful blend of contrasting flavors: mellow wheat bran and vanilla are enhanced with the richness of cinnamon, brown sugar, raisins and molasses. But however great the flavor may be, a muffin is nothing without equally great texture, and this recipe achieves a perfect balance of each.

A cup of sour cream is incorporated into the batter, which provides the additional fat content needed to produce an ultra-moist and tender crumb. The texture is further enhanced by the slight crunch of the wheat bran flakes and the chewy raisins that are peppered throughout each muffin.

A variety of bold flavors complement the mellow, nutty tone of the wheat bran, including raisins, molasses and cinnamon, while the sour cream is added to ensure each muffin has great texture. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
A variety of bold flavors complement the mellow, nutty tone of the wheat bran, including raisins, molasses and cinnamon, while the sour cream is added to ensure each muffin has great texture. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

You can find wheat bran in the specialty flour or gluten-free sections of many local grocery stores (I found mine at the Cash Wise store on 52nd Avenue in south Fargo), as well as at specialty nutrition stores. The rich fiber content makes wheat bran a popular breakfast ingredient as it helps to promote a sense of fullness and energy to get you through your morning.

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When it comes to molasses, you will find a variety of choices, including light, dark, robust, unsulphured and blackstrap. I prefer to use unsulphured molasses in most of my baking, and my brand of choice is Grandma’s Original. It's lighter in color and produces a mellower flavor than other varieties.

A standard muffin tin is filled with batter until each cup is approximately 3/4 full. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
A standard muffin tin is filled with batter until each cup is approximately 3/4 full. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

I use a standard 12-cup muffin tin for this recipe, which I grease with either butter or cooking spray. You could instead line each cup with paper liners, like the kind used for cupcakes, but I prefer the golden-brown crust that results from using a greased tin.

The batter takes less than 10 minutes to make and will appear somewhat curdled once the egg and other liquid ingredients are incorporated. Don’t fret — this is completely normal.

The dry ingredients are combined separately and then added to the mixture to pull everything together. For best results, I add the dry ingredients all at once and mix the batter on low speed just until they are incorporated.

Each muffin cup should be filled about three-quarters full of batter. I use a large ice cream scoop to ensure consistency in size, but two spoons will also do the trick. The muffins go into the oven at 400 degrees and bake until they are golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, which only takes about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on your oven.

For additional flavor and texture, roll the top of each muffin in cinnamon sugar as soon as they are removed from the oven. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
For additional flavor and texture, roll the top of each muffin in cinnamon sugar as soon as they are removed from the oven. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Once they are done, I remove the muffins from the pan and roll the top of each one in cinnamon sugar before placing them on a wire rack to cool. Stored in an airtight container, the muffins will stay fresh for about three to four days at room temperature, and even longer if you wrap them individually in plastic wrap. They also freeze well for several months.

These Cinnamon Raisin Bran Breakfast Muffins are a busy-morning lifesaver in my family, and I hope you enjoy them. Have a great school year, and don’t forget to eat your breakfast!

Sarah's Cinnamon Raisin Bran Breakfast Muffins feature an ultra-moist and tender crumb. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Sarah's Cinnamon Raisin Bran Breakfast Muffins feature an ultra-moist and tender crumb. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Cinnamon Raisin Bran Breakfast Muffins

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Makes: 12 muffins

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup wheat bran

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1 large or extra-large egg, lightly beaten

1 cup sour cream

¼ cup unsulphured molasses

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ cup raisins (optional)

Optional topping: Combine 2 tablespoons granulated sugar with 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Additional add-ins: ½ cup chopped nuts, dried fruits or chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use butter or cooking spray to grease a 12-cup muffin pan or fill each cup with a paper liner; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat bran, baking soda, cinnamon and salt until combined; set aside.

In a large bowl, use a stand or hand-held mixer to beat the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the egg and beat on medium speed until well-combined, about 30 seconds. The mixture will appear somewhat curdled until the dry ingredients are added.

Add the sour cream, molasses and vanilla and beat on medium-low speed until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Stir in the raisins on low speed for 10 seconds, then scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl again.

Add the dry ingredients and stir on low speed until just combined. The batter will appear thick and lumpy, similar to old-fashioned peanut butter.

Use a scoop or 2 spoons to fill each muffin cup about ¾ full of batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out free of crumbs and the top springs back when touched, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and turn the muffins out onto a cooling rack. For an extra flourish, let the muffins cool for a minute or 2, just until cool enough to handle, then roll the top of each muffin in cinnamon sugar. Place the muffins back on the rack to cool.

To store: These muffins will stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for about 3 to 4 days, and even longer if individually wrapped in plastic. They can also be frozen in a plastic freezer bag or airtight container for several months.

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“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.