Cape Cod Cranberry Orange Muffins
I had every intention of writing this blog post much earlier in the day. But Mother Nature graced us with some sunshine and warm weather today. And then crazy eddie was in full pyro-mode next door tonight, so I got distracted for a solid 3 hours tonight sitting on the porch with my friend and a bottle of wine, totally mesmerized by the 5 foot high flames eddie had gotten blazin in his backyard. So now it’s 10:45 when I am starting this post, which means it will likely be a little punchy and I might forget some key ingredients, but eh, yolo.
So about these muffins. First, let me just say, these are probably the best baking photographs I have ever taken. And 95% of that is likely attributed to the amazing lighting in my parent’s kitchen this morning. And the other 5% is the fact that these are the best muffins I have ever created in my entire life. If you remember my post a few weeks back about orange chocolate covered cranberry oatmeal cookies, you’ll remember my original goal that week was to bake with fresh cranberries. And we could not find them anywhere. Not in the produce aisles, not in the freezer section. And we’re in the cranberry capital of the world, right in the middle of Cape Cod. We even have a cranbery festival in Harwich in the fall becuase that is how much we love cranberries in my town. And while a normal person would just say, oh well, I will wait until cranberry season this fall and just bake with strawberries because the grocery stores are overflowing with them … I think we all know that 1) I am far from normal and 2) once I get an idea in my head, I will not stop until I find those cranberries.
So guess how excited my mom was last weekend when she went to Ferretti’s market in Brewster to get steaks for dinner, and my very determined mom was checking out the freezer section in hopes of proving my “no cranberries till September” theory wrong, and she did. She found this bag of frozen cranberries and I knew I was going to put them to good use. So there are two cranberry combos that I know go well together – chocolate + cranberries and orange+cranberries. I don’t love chocolate in muffins as much as cookies, so I decided to go the orange zest + cranberry muffin route this morning. I perused the interweb for some different muffin base recipes last night, but this morning I just decided to totally wing it and make up one of my own. And with Skip as my taste tester (and God as my witness), Skip gave these all the thumbs up he had. And said these should be a regular weekend staple in the house.
So to the best of my recollection, since I am not always the best with measuring, writing things down, remembering or paying attention, I am fairly certain this is the best way to reproduce this muffin recipe.
Yield: Makes 16 muffins
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup oats
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Zest of 1 large orange
- 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed orange juice
- 2 1/4 cups fresh cranberries
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup oats
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. To make the topping, mix together the brown sugar, oats, chopped walnuts, flour, cinnamon and softened butter and set aside. It’s important that the butter is not chilled here, so sometimes I find it’s helpful to just work it with your hands, or if you have a pastry blender that tool is super helpful in this step.
Step 2: To make the muffin batter, mix the cooled melted butter, buttermilk, eggs and granulated sugar in a large bowl with a wooden spoon. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, oats, cornstarch, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Slowly mix the dry ingredients with the wet batter. (For the record, I am notoriously really bad at not mixing things in a separate bowl. I often just throw ingredients in at totally random points and my muffins turn out just fine, so if you go a little out of order, don’t freak out.)
Step 3: Zest 1 large orange and add that in. Squeeze about a tablespoon of fresh orange juice and mix into the batter as well. If at any point you feel your batter is too dry, you can moisten it a bit with some fresh orange juice.
Step 4: Slowly fold in the fresh cranberries, and stir gently until they are evenly distributed.
Step 5: Line 16 regular size muffin tins with paper liners and spray each of them generously with non-stick spray. Fill each of the muffin tins about halfway with batter. Take a spoonful of the topping and sprinkle it over each muffin. Then use the remaining batter to top off the muffin tins. For the final step, cover with the remaining topping.
Step 6: Bake at 400 degrees for about 18-22 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and the muffin is firm to touch. Carefully remove from the muffin tins, and set aside on a wire rack to cool.
I wish there was a smell-o-vision on this blog or some kind of scratch and sniff so you could experience this insanity. They came out of the oven, and it was literally like “And heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and heaven and nature sing.” Hashtag joy to the world. Once I was done standing on top of the island taking as many pictures as possible, Skip and I split one of these and there was literal steam rushing out of them. I don’t think my gluten-allergic mom was thrilled when we maybe went a bit overboard with our reactions after tasting them, with our eyes rolling back in our head, and me fist pumping like Snooki that I had basically solved world hunger with the world’s best tasting muffin ever.
I think it will be an interesting Monday morning at work tomorrow, Hunger Games style for people to get their hands on the 14-remaining muffins. Skip and I shared one as the taste tester, and then I gave one to my friend Ania tonight for her doctor breakfast tomorrow because she saves lives every day and these are good life-saving muffins. So I just imagine my coworkers fighting each other to the death, volunteering as tribute in order to get a chance at one of these. Or it might be like every Monday when they start to take these for granted and at 3pm there are a few straggler cookies hanging around, to which I take personal offense.
So a few important pieces of news for the Salted Cookie. If you have continued to read on to this point, congratulations. And thanks Mom.
My friend Lauren who is basically just crushing life right now, left our company last summer to go start her own company in downtown Boston called Idea Space. It is boutique shared office space overlooking Boylston Street right in the heart of the city. Perfect for entrepreneurs and small businesses who want a professional space to work in. Or say if you’re in the booming cookie biz and need some office space to start your cookie world domination strategy. Anyways, Lauren had a coffee tasting event at Idea Space last Wednesday and asked if I was interested in bringing some cookies. Which I was pretty excited to do. So I made my mini browned butter salted chocolate chip cookies, and packaged them up with some nice polka dot tissue paper in a baker’s box and everything. And she texted me after the event saying they were a huge hit, and people were asking how long I have been in the business of baking cookies.
Which got me thinking, with all my consulting skills, I think I need to legitimize this salted cookie thing. One small step at a time. First step, I’ve already secured a lot of the social media properties for The Salted Cookie, but I’ve been using my personal instagram account to post most of my baked good photos. And I’d like to keep that account limited to people I know, so I finally got TheSaltedCookie on Instagram, so make sure you follow it!
Also, to the giant population of financially stable, single, good-looking men between the ages of 28-35 in the Boston area, who loves cookies, and are really looking to settle down into a stable relationship, who I am sure are all avid readers of this blog … let me give you a head start here…. I highly recommend you get on this Salted Cookie train and start woo’ing me in hopes of wifing me up as soon as possible, because it’s going to be much harder to do so when I am rich and famous and the new Rachael Ray of baking, and have all these public appearances and bazillion dollar houses all over the place and cookbooks, and tv shows and all that jazz. It’s definitely going to be a better story when everyone knows we started dating when I was just a normal ninja consultant who baked cookies for her coworkers every week. So I’m just giving you that heads up now.
And finally to round out the weekend, I spent a little time down the Cape this weekend, which is always nice and relaxing. My live-in taste tester moved into her own bachelorette pad this weekend – about a half mile down the road – which is very exciting for both of us. I went to Home Depot today (my mecca) and picked out a few paint samples, because I’m turning the room formerly known as Colleen’s bedroom into a nice guest room slash office. So I figured I should give it a fresh coat of paint before the sleeper sofa and desk I’ve ordered arrive in a few weeks. But because the weather was so nice, and I need a little more relaxation in my life, my very good friend Ania came over tonight for her first grilled pizza + vino experience in Southie. We made a nice prosciutto, mozarella + eggplant grilled pizza and shared a bottle of vino on the back porch while watching crazy eddie’s pyrotechnic show (and the continued zipline daredevil adventures).
And now it’s way past my bedtime, so here’s to hoping for survival of another crazy work week this week, and to my coworkers looking for muffins tomorrow morning, may the odds be ever in your favor.