Yesterday on Instagram, I commented that here in the Pacific Northwest, we don't typically get to enjoy snow, so we decorate with snowy things indoors, and practice a little hygge. This weekend, our hygge has been all about muffins. Yesterday, we made applesauce muffins, from one of my mom's very old, very worn recipe cards (you know the kind). Those applesauce muffins are the first thing I ever baked, and I made them several times during my high school years. I took the recipe with me when I went to college, only to discover I'd forgotten to write down how much flour to use, so I never made them. I don't think I've made or eaten them since I was a teenager, so they were a real treat. I forgot to take photos of them though, sadly. Tomorrow I'll pull out the recipe anyway and share it with you, if you'd like.
Today, however, we wanted cranberries. Our freezer is full of cranberries, as I stock up every winter so I can enjoy them all year long. I don't know if they can be found all over the country, but at least here in Washington state they are prolific, as we have cranberry bogs along our coastline and we are home to Ocean Spray. This was a Taste of Home recipe, which I am mixed about sometimes. I love the old fashioned recipes you can find in Taste of Home, but I stopped getting the magazine years ago, as I felt the recipes involved too much salt, too much sugar, and too many cans of this and that. I like food made of food. That was years ago now, and recipes (cooking in general) I've noticed has changed a bit, as the demand for whole food cooking is rising, so I really need to revisit Taste of Home.
Anyway, I digress. The point is, I found this recipe via Taste of Home, and it looked pretty good. There's only a half a cup of sugar in the entire recipe, and lots of yummy cranberries. It makes 12 muffins, or you can double it if you have lots of mouths to feed. Or you just want to eat muffins all day, which is what I did when we made these. They are not very sweet at all, so they're great with coffee or tea for a light breakfast. The recipe calls for lemon zest, but orange zest would be good too. I actually couldn't taste the zest at all, so I think it is more a flavor enhancer rather than adding actual lemon flavor. You probably could just a teaspoon of vanilla if you don't have any fruit to zest.
The only thing I might change when we make them again is to add more cranberries. I think the amount stated in the recipe is perfectly adequate, but we loooooove cranberries, so I think I'll try adding a half a cup more than what it calls for.
I will share one of my tips for great muffins. A lot of people use a mixer when making quick breads, but in my opinion this is not only unnecessary and extra work, you run the risk of tough muffins because of over-mixing. It is very very easy to overmix, most especially with a mixer. Quick breads don't need a mixer. Just grab a rubber spatula and fold/stir until the wet and dry ingredients are just blended. It will take you far more time to get your mixer set up and cleaned up afterwards than it will for you to just stir the batter by hand.
1 cup (or more!) fresh cranberries, chopped a little bit
8 tablespoons sugar, divided
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon or orange zest, optional
Cinnamon sugar (for sprinkling on top)
- Stir 2 Tb of sugar into the cranberries, and set aside.
- Mix dry ingredients
- Mix wet ingredients
- Add wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and stir by hand just until moistened. Fold in berries and zest.
- Fill 12 lightly greased standard muffin cups. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon sugar.
- Bake at 400° for 18, or until tester comes out clean, and muffins are starting to brown and pull away from the sides of the pan.
Let cool for about 10 minutes in the pan, then remove and set on a rack to cool completely. Alternatively, you can be impatient and stuff your face while they’re piping hot like we did. Makes 12 muffins.