Wheat Bran Muffins

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[This recipe is on the side of the Quaker "natural" wheat bran box.  I
have found that substituting various fruit for the optional raisins
makes an excellent berry-bran muffin.  My comments are enclosed in
square brackets. ]

 50 ml  (1/4 cup)   shortening [may use oil, but muffins will not be as firm]
125 ml  (1/2 cup)   brown sugar  (firmly packed)
 50 ml  (1/4 cup)   molasses
  2 eggs unbeaten
250 ml  (1 cup)     milk
375 ml  (1.5 cup)   Quaker natural wheat bran [I usually use 1/3 oat bran or
                    1:1:1 wheat bran:oat bran:wheat germ]

250 ml  (1 cup)     flour
  7 ml  (1.5 tsp)   baking powder
  2 ml  (1/2 tsp)   baking soda
  3 ml  (3/4 tsp)   salt [this can be omitted with no apparent effect]
[ 1 ml  (1/4 tsp scant)    cinnamon   Or try your own favourite spices, I find
  1 ml  (1/8 tsp generous) ginger     the basic recipe quite bland ]

125 ml  (1/2 cup)   raisins (optional) [or substitute chopped fruit or 
		    berries.  I use rhubarb when in season, select thin
		    red stocks and chop into ~5mm sections, apples
		    chopped into ~5mm cubes, wild blueberries (frozen
		    whole), cherries (halved), etc.  A mix of rhubarb,
		    apples and blueberries turned out quite well. You
		    can use more of some fruit than others.  If the
		    fruit turns mushy in cooking you must use less or
		    the muffins will not stay together.  Put in as much
		    fruit as you can while making muffins that do not
		    disintegrate, the 1/2 cup is a good starting
		    point.  Add fruit to the dry ingredients so that
		    chunks are coated with flour before folding into
		    wet]

Preheat oven to 200C (400F).

Cream shortening and brown sugar.  Add molasses and eggs then beat
together well.  Add milk then bran. [The wheat bran should have a
chance to soak a little to soften it, so I prepare the muffin pans at
this point]

Combine remaining dry ingredients in smaller bowl.  Add fruit and coat
with flour mixture.

Add flour mixture (and fruit) to wet mixture and fold together just
enough to moisten all the dry ingredients.  [Too much mixing will
"work" the gluten and the muffins will not be crumbly.]

Place mixture in greased [pam does a good job] muffin pans about 3/4
full and bake for 18-20 minutes.  [I have found that I get best results
with oven set just under 400F mark and cook for full 20 minutes.  Ovens
vary.]