Friday, November 13, 2009

Orange Cranberry Muffins - perfect for Thanksgiving morning!

Before I jump into writing about cooking and food and recipes and the like, I feel it necessary to disclose the relative amateur nature of mah skilz, as they say.

I do not cook very much. I do not cook well. My husband, in fact, cooks more often and better than I do. It is not because he likes to do it or feels he is especially good at it. He does so because he likes to eat and he likes it to taste good. Ergo, he cooks for our family quite frequently.

What I DO do is bake. I'm much better at it than cooking. Each Saturday and Sunday morning, we have fresh baked goods paired with hot eggs, fresh fruit, juice and coffee. Halloween? I'm ready with homemade pumpkin bread and butterscotch cut-out cookies. For Christmas everyone knows to expect gingerbread men, sugar cookies, bourbon balls and pecan pie. Other specialties of the house? Key Lime Pie. (No, I will never give out the recipe here.) I make almost all the birthday cakes in the house. I bake my own yeast breads. Our house runneth over with scones and muffins and cookies and biscuits and popovers and such.

That being said, let's jump in: Orange Cranberry Muffins

For this yummy, we will turn to our trusty companion, the Better Homes and Gardens NEW Cookbook, publication date 1996.

In the chapter of the food group "Breads," on pages 118-119, we find the general recipe for "Muffins."

Lest you believe for one minute that I would give you nothing more than a recipe from a cookbook, have faith. I wouldn't lead you astray. No, I rarely make a recipe exactly as it's written. The recipe in the cookbook gives a variation to include cranberries, but even that would be too ordinary and trite. It takes a little bit of know-how, but one always has to change up the recipe and add a little something extra in order to make the end result "pop" (as Stacy London might say).

Here's my spice, seasonings and herb cabinet:

We buy such stuff from a local market and then fill jars we already have.

This makes it possible to buy only as much as we need, enabling it to always be fresh and also enables us to buy expensive spices that we otherwise couldn't afford (like saffron). The per pound cost is as much as 1/10 of what it costs at the grocery store. So, hello exotic things I normally wouldn't buy! Like:

dried orange peel

The perfect complement to the tangy flavor of the dried cranberries. Just the little extra something we need to make this otherwise ordinary, run of the mill recipe for cranberry muffins become something extraordinary.

Without further ado then, here is the recipe:


Orange-Cranberry Muffins

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried orange peel
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil
1 cup dried cranberries

Line twelve standard muffin cups with bake cups; set aside. In a medium mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix in orange peel. Make a well in the center of dry mixture; set aside.

In another mixing bowl, combine egg, milk, and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to the dry mixture. Stir until just moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in cranberries.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes or until golden. Cool in muffin cups on a mire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and serve warm. Makes 10-12 muffins.



Heather said...

They look great! And I love all your photos.

Holly at Tropic of Mom said...

YUM! I love baking too. It's like therapy.