What do you do when you purchase too many cranberries and oranges for your attempt at cranberry orange cornbread stuffing? Make muffins. Make them ahead of time to get the jump on breakfast over the Thanksgiving weekend, because they freeze like a dream. And it saves you a run to the bakery because no one can bring themselves to cook or bake one…more…thing. Maybe that’s just me, but doesn’t everyone get sick of looking at the kitchen after a few days of preparing Thanksgiving dinner? Or, if you’re a perfect hostess and would love nothing more to whip these up during the weekend bustle, be my guest; they don’t take much time to put together.
First, a little side note about the eggs: I just found a farm within seconds of my house which sells the most beautiful fresh eggs I’ve ever seen in my life. The yolks are sunset orange and they taste nothing like the bleach-y white ones that come from a grocery store. Don’t get me wrong, I love the convenience of a good grocery store for other things, but these eggs…I’m in love.
Now to the cranberries: How pretty are they this time of year? I’m not completely ashamed to admit that the only cranberry sauce we had as kids (and honestly, to this day) for Thanksgiving and Christmas comes from a can. Before you make a face, try to remember some of the random things you probably liked as a kid and would still eat today if it weren’t utterly embarrassing. I embrace the Cran-Can. We did, however, use fresh cranberries for one thing: to string as garland (along with popcorn) for the Christmas tree. And I remember them being shiny and beautiful, just as they are now; I just never knew how to transform them from ornaments to edible. Now I do.
There are plenty of things you can adjust in this recipe to make it just exactly how you like your cranberry muffins. If you prefer them not as orange-flavored, just use the zest of 1 orange instead of 2; you can also omit the orange juice if you’d like. Oranges are just so good right now I can’t help myself; oranges remind me of the holidays and I adore their bright flavor right now. You don’t have to add walnuts, either: you can use pecans instead, or forget the nuts altogether. I use nuts in quick breads and muffins because i like the texture they add, and I think the walnuts help balance out the sweetness of this muffin.
Whatever you end up doing, just know these muffins are absolutely bursting with flavors all over the place. The only thing that makes them better is a hot cup of coffee and knowing that there will hopefully be some left over for the next day.
Adapted from Whipped: Food Drink and Conversation from Around the Table, one of my favorite blogs for inspiration and really great food.
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- zest of 2 oranges and the juice of 1 of those oranges
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 cups fresh cranberries: 1 cup cut in half, 1 cup left whole
- 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (if you are so inclined), or pecans
Preheat oven to 375˚F. Grease muffin cups or line with paper liners. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together cooled melted butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, orange and buttermilk in a separate mixing bowl. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Fold in cranberries and walnuts.
Fill each muffin cup about three-quarters full. Bake until golden and a toothpick comes out clean (18-22 minutes). Let the pan sit for 5-10 minutes. If you used paper liners, turn them out. If you greased the cups like I do, then take a thin knife (I actually use one of those dumb holiday spreaders with the rounded tip…works wonderfully if you have one) and work it around the muffins to loosen them. You may not need to, but you want them to come out unharmed.