Monday, June 4, 2012

Cranberry-Blueberry Orange Muffins

Tender is the word.  Gentle is the method.  Don't over-mix or over bake.  Butter?  Yes.
 There really isn't anything homier or more welcoming than a basket full of fresh muffins. (Especially if you're having a friend for breakfast.)  And they're a bit more versatile than at first they appear.  I like them for breakfast, lunch, snacks, coffee, or dinner.  Much like quiche or omelets, they go anywhere, anytime.  They do travel well and keep for a few days on the counter or for a few weeks well-wrapped in the freezer.  Time?  5 minutes to stir up and 15 - 20 to bake?  They round up and out what might have appeared a paltry meal (think leftover salad or a jar of tomato soup or just yogurt and fruit) and  make you and the meal feel special.  Should I bring up butter?

My husband has a cousin who's married to a really fine food writer who says that muffins are just an excuse to have cake for breakfast.  I don't disagree with her on much, but I am grounded in the idea that muffins are muffins and cake is cake.   Of course, if I want cake for breakfast, I will have it.  (Not sure I can remember when I've done that...)

Roberta--we make beautiful music together.
 I fixed these yesterday (along with some bannocks) before I left for church.  It's my friend Roberta's birthday and  a few of us came here for brunch after worship.  Dave got a buddy to help him chop and stir up a big frittata while Roberta and I chopped fruit and mint for a fruit salad.  That, a mimosa or two, and a couple of pots of coffee made up the meal. No big deal and not much mess.

Muffins are tiny, individual (how fun!) baked morsels full of whatever is good right then.Think apple-cinnamon oat muffins come fall.  Strawberry come spring. Blueberry come early summer. Cranberry come Thanksgiving.   Well, that's where this muffin comes in.  I'm a freeze cranberries girl; you'll find them in my freezer year-round so that I can make cranberry sauce with hot red peppers for my grilled pork chops in July or cranberry-pecan pancakes in February.  Hence cranberry-blueberry muffins in June.  Right in my finely chopped, frozen cranberries from last November, there's also a tiny bag of grated orange rind.  I tend to grate a bunch at once and freeze it; it's always ready then and while I store some with the cranberries, I also keep a bag right in the freezer door for quick raiding.

Mix only until just barely together or your muffins will be tough.  A gentle stir is the idea.
 cranberry-blueberry orange muffins

*Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
*Place oven rack in the middle of the oven 
*Grease well 12 muffin cups (Use melted butter and brush the tins, including tops where batter may rise over the muffin cup  or use Crisco and a paper towel.  Skip the cupcake papers; they leech moisture and then steam the cooling muffin, which should end up with some crisp edges.) 

Solo Cook's Note:  Recipe can be cut in half.  You can use ramekins or oven-safe mugs instead of a muffin tin.  There are also 6-muffin cup tins.

In a small bowl or 2-cup measuring cup, mix together well the wet ingredients + set aside:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil

 In a large bowl, mix together well the dry ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 t baking powder
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and stir until barely combined.  Mix in gently:

  • 1/2 cup chopped cranberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (don't unthaw if frozen)  Can sub chopped strawberries.
  • 1T grated orange rind
Using a big ice cream scoop or a spoon, fill the muffin cups 1/2 - 1/3 full.  Bake about 15 minutes until tops are just barely firm and have golden edges.

 Holding onto the pan at either end with oven mitts, gently but firmly bang the bottom of entire pan onto a counter.  Check and see if the muffins are loose within the cups.  If not, gently loosen them with your hands or by using a thin knife blade around the edges.  Tip the muffins out onto a rack and let cool a minute or so.  Eat hot if you can, but at room temperature or cold if not. Freeze leftovers for midnight solo cook emergencies.

Have fun cooking and taking care of yourself,

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