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Pear Fig Chia Bran Muffins (And My Most Used Baking Tips)

Pear Fig Chia Bran Muffins. It may be a mouthmfull, but believe me you don’t want to leave any of it out! 

Over the years – and after countless baking experiments (successes and oh so many failures), I’ve been able to accumulate a few tips and tricks that I now use each time I turn on the oven.

Pear Fig Chia Bran Muffins

BAKING TIP #1:  Set your oven 50 degrees higher than what the recipe calls for (375F turns to 425F). Bake at this temperature for 5 minutes, and then without opening the oven door, turn the temperature down to what was originally instructed (and bake for remainder of the allotted time). The intense heat at the start of the baking process gives all the chemical reactions a quick kick in the butt,  expanding the air pockets and creating more space to rise.  This results in a taller, heightened muffin – closer to what you see in a bakery or cafe.

Pear Fig Chia Bran Muffins

BAKING TIP #2:  If the recipe calls for buttermilk, but you are either vegan or do not have any in your fridge (because let’s be real – buying a whole carton for one recipe stinks), add an acidic medium to your milk of choice.  I tend to use almond milk for all my baking, so I add 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar per 1/4 cup milk. Let the mix sit for atleast 10 minutes. The slightly acidic environment reacts with baking soda to create more CO2, therefore again, creating more space to expand and rise (this is why you see buttermilk called for in recipes that also call for baking soda). It is merely the acidity of buttermilk that creates an improved texture and leavening of baking, so why not create it yourself?

BAKING TIP#3:  Buy (unsweetened) applesauce in individual containers, rather than the larger jars (unless of course you think you will go through it all).  I, for one, never go through a whole jar before it goes bad, and each little container is equivalent to about 1/2 cup which makes for a super easy grab for most recipes.

BAKING TIP #4:  Whisk eggs or egg whites suuuper well.  Make this the last of your wet ingredients and do this right before you are ready to mix the wet in with the dry. Whisking those suckers until they are very frothy – you guessed it – creates more air bubbles and makes for a fluffier consistency.

Pear Fig Chia Bran Muffins

And now, how about we put all these tips and tricks to good use in a new muffin recipe!?

I first made these pear fig chia bran muffins years ago – when I first fell in love with figs – but it was Kate’s pear chia baked oatmeal that got me craving them again. This, and my rarely appeased love for bran muffins.  I feel like maybe bran is a love or hate kind of ingredient.  Ya?  I used to think of bran muffins as the “old person’s” muffin.  But I swear, there is no better type of muffin to heat up and spread with butter than one made with bran.  Mmm butter my muffin. 

My chia bran muffin. 

Pear Fig Chia Bran Muffins

If you haven’t discovered the glorious combination of fig and pear, you have just got to get on it.  Add in some chia seeds and you’re in for an explosion of textures in every bite.

These chia bran muffins are healthy and chalk full of magnesium and iron, thanks to the molasses and bran. They are sweetened only with the figs, banana and molasses – which gives them an extra hit of comfort.

Bran + pear + molasses…. gah.  Just the thought of it makes me want to curl up on my couch with a blanket and TV show and knit.  If I could knit, that is.  Okay so maybe these are an old person muffin. Whatever. I’m a grandma at heart. Make these pear fig chia bran muffins and you won’t care!!

Pear Fig Chia Bran Muffins

Pear Fig Chia Bran Muffins

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 1/2 cups wheat bran
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt

1 ripe banana, mashed
1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup buttermilk OR milk of choice (I use almond milk) + 1 tsp apple cider vingegar (left to sit for 10 minutes)
4 egg whites (1/4 cup)
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
1 pear, diced
5-6 dried figs, diced


Preheat oven to 425F.

If dried figs are hard, pour a little hot water over top and let them sit for 5-10 minutes before chopping. If not using real buttermilk, add 1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar to milk in a small bowl and set aside for 10 minutes.

Combine all dry ingredients.

Mash banana, mix with apple sauce, molasses and “buttermilk.” Whisk egg whites very well, until frothy, and add to rest of wet ingredients. Stir well.

Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in wet ingredients, and combine until all is moist. Add in diced pear and figs and gently fold in. Do not over store.

Pour into 12 greased or lined muffin cups, filling to the top.

Bake at 425F for 5 minutes, then without opening oven door, set temperature down to 375F. Bake for a remaining 20-25 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

pear fig chia bran muffins pin

Are you a bran fan?

Any baking tips to add to the list?


  1. Joyce | 19th Jan 16

    Oh my goodness I miss bran so much since discovering I have food intolerances! Raisin bran used to be my favorite. So yes, I am a bran fan.
    Fascinating tip about turning the oven up 50 degrees higher than the recipe calls for. Do you do that with all recipes, or just quick breads?

    • mylittletablespoon | 20th Jan 16

      Oh no! That’s right – I guess you wouldn’t be able to have bran. I’m sorry :(. I guess oat bran would be the same thing?? The 50 degree higher tip was originally just meant for muffins, but I tend to use it for my scones and loafs as well – anything that I want to have an extra bit of rise. Aka everything 🙂

      • Joyce | 22nd Jan 16

        Cool! I’ll have to try it!

  2. SuzLyfe | 19th Jan 16

    Fantastic tips! I often add ACV to recipes–it is like salt, not only does it help with the chemical reactions, but it boosts the flavor! I often forget about the boost the temp trick, but I just realize that I often do it anyway, lol. And mmmmm pear and fig. Match in heaven.

    • mylittletablespoon | 20th Jan 16

      Haha well then you are a baking brilliance without even noticing! I love adding ACV to any sort of savory stir fry or stew – I find the acidity brings out all the other flavors. But I should try adding it into all my baking too. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Juli | 19th Jan 16

    Love the baking tips! I am not much of a baker so this is very much appreciated 🙂
    The muffins look bomb!

  4. hungryforbalance | 19th Jan 16

    I also have an intense love for bran muffins!!! I also tend to go for the carrot variety, but these sound delicious!! I am a fan of anything that involves figs!!
    I love all the baking tips!!!! I have never tried the first one- cranking the heat up and then backing it down! Love it!! Thanks for sharing!!

  5. Kate Bennett | 19th Jan 16

    It’s true- my muffins usually look like hockey pucks. I’m going to try your tip with the hot oven. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked with bran.. but I do like it. Especially apple bran muffins, so I know that I’d dig the pear!

  6. bucketlisttummy | 19th Jan 16

    Life saver! You have so many great tips, thanks for sharing. Even after my food science class, I never feel like I have a good grasp on all those baking soda/baking powder/acidic reactions and how they work. Thanks for simplifying. AND I LOVE FIG anything. Pinning this. Thanks, Cora!

    • mylittletablespoon | 20th Jan 16

      Yay! Glad you share the same love for figs! I actually attribute some of this to my first year nutrition lab. Wouldn’t say I was too interested in it at the time (when you are stuck in a lab for 4 hours)… but in your own kitchen they are the best things to learn.

  7. katalysthealth | 19th Jan 16

    Ummm girl you just totally BLEW my mind with all of these baking tips! Going to be applying #1 for SURE, and I already do the others [unconsciously of course – I never really know what I’m doing! 😉 ] And I am adoring the pear and chia combo right now – but fig as well? GIMME!

    • mylittletablespoon | 20th Jan 16

      Haha no, no you already do the other ones because you are already a kitchen star. Something about pear and chia just….works.

  8. Stephanie Leduc | 20th Jan 16

    Do I ever agree with baking tip #3!! I ALWAYS get applesauce in containers, I simply don’t bake enough to use up all the apple sauce and rarely crave apple sauce on it’s own. I was aware of the other tips, but #1 surprised me! I will try it out with my next batch of muffins, thanks!

    • mylittletablespoon | 20th Jan 16

      Yesss I’ve had many a jar of applesauce go to sad waste… never again! Hope you get some extra tall muffins next time!

  9. Ellie | 20th Jan 16

    I think I like bran…I can’t remember the last time I had a bran muffin but I love raisin bran cereal! Hmm…a baking tip I have is (even though I don’t like eggs) to whip eggs with water instead of milk for a fluffier omlet or scrambled egg. Paula Deen taught me that one =P

    • mylittletablespoon | 20th Jan 16

      Oh man raisin bran cereal is seriously delicious. Its been years since I’ve had it. With water? Really? That’s interesting – maybe the milk weighs it down more? will have time try!

  10. Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets | 20th Jan 16

    Feel free to dub me an old person then too because I’d love to get my hands on some of these. The flavor profile sounds wonderful and I am adoring the muffin tips. I’m a big fan of buttermilk for that very reason.

  11. WIR: Writing and Stuffing and Fishing – mylittletablespoon | 25th Jan 16

    […] Fueled those writing cells with my pear fig bran muffins.  […]

  12. Miss Polkadot | 25th Jan 16

    A fan of bran I am indeed. That’s why I’ve created my own oat bran/wheat bran/speltberry/chia seed mixture and have been eating it as wonderfully warming dinners for years. Alomg with the fact I read the paper and do crossword puzzles and sudokus while eating that probably puts me in the old people’s camp. Hm …
    Anyway, your muffins look fabulous, lady. While I don’t eat eggs the combination of pears and figs sounds good. I also knew some but not all of the baking tricks so thanks for a little lesson in baking science. The preheating trick wasn’t in my repertoire yet but now I can’t wait to try it.

    • mylittletablespoon | 25th Jan 16

      What is this mixture? How do you use it / cook it / bake it?? I lovvvveee the image of you with your crossword puzzle and newspaper and bowl of bran. I’ll just grab my knitting and we can have a wild night together ya? 🙂

      • Miss Polkadot | 25th Jan 16

        Oh, you would look my mum whenever we watch a movie/travel by train/… so I can easily picture it ;). She’s a mad knitter – wool and needles always at hand.

  13. rebeccalwin | 28th Feb 16

    Love your baking tips, and love this combo of bran/fig/pear/chia! Will definitely try it. The only other thing I do to my muffies involving flour is make sure not to over-stir… otherwise I wind up with little tough hockey pucks, not nice! Thanks for this fab post!

  14. Zomick's | 12th Apr 16

    These were great bran muffins! I decided to experiment, so I made one regular batch and then one lowfat with egg whites for the egg, applesauce for the oil, and reduced fat buttermilk. I gave both versions to my husband and he picked the low fat one as being the tastier version! I will be making these again for sure!

    • Cora | 14th Apr 16

      Ah this is so wonderful to hear!! Thank you!
      That’s so cool to know. I’m glad the low fat versions worked so well – will have to now try it myself! Its a dense muffin so lightening up would be really nice.

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    […] remember my Pear Fig Chia Bran Muffins? If so, you may recall my often forgotten adoration for bran. Bran muffins to be […]

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