Does anyone remember Strawberry Shortcake? The cartoon character. When I was really little, maybe four or five, I distinctly remember an older girl who lived across the street from me that had her entire room decked out in Strawberry Shortcake everything. Not even exaggerating. Her walls were painted pink, she had the bed-spread and sheet set, this crazy canopy thing, posters, dolls, clothes; she maxed it out.
I remember wanting my room to look like hers so bad and strawberries became my fascination. But we soon moved away and I forgot about her room; and I soon realized that strawberries are good, but only when they are really good. Like in season, just picked locally good. Otherwise you have to settle for a mediocre good strawberry with some sugar sprinkled on top.
Of course if you had asked me then what my favorite fruit was, I would have still said strawberries no matter what it tasted like. There is something so sweet and alluring about these little berries and the fact that their bright red flesh, speckled with tiny seeds, is like no other fruit in the eyes of a little girl, cupping them gently in her little hands as if they might break.
When strawberries and other fruit are in season I feel like they're the perfect package all on their own, so it's hard for me to put them in baked goods sometimes because I just want to eat them. But these bran muffins really benefit from the sweet little bits of strawberry. Lightly sweetened with honey and a few added almonds for a little crunch, these are not your average bran muffin. I think the flavor of bran muffins always seems to deepen and get better with time, so if you plan to make them for breakfast or brunch, I'd make them the day before. We plan on packing a few for our weekend in Portand.
Strawberry and Honey Bran Muffins
Loosely adapted from Bob's Red Mill
about 15 muffins
about 15 muffins
1 cup wheat bran
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup toasted almonds or walnuts, finely chopped (optional)
1 cup milk (soy, rice, almond, or dairy)
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup applesauce
2 tablespoons oil
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups strawberries, chopped
Preheat oven to 400˚F. Grease or paper line muffin tin.
In a large bowl, combine wheat bran, flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir in chopped nuts if using.
In a separate bowl, mix milk, honey, applesauce, oil, and eggs. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir just until moistened. Fold in the strawberries.
Spoon the batter into prepared muffin tin, about 3/4 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Once muffins are completely cool, store in an airtight container for 3-5 days.