I have heard people say that enjoying a lovely homemade muffin for breakfast is the equivalent of downing a piece of cake. I beg to differ. Cake has frosting.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s talk about muffins. A bad muffin (you will know them by their rubbery appearance and dry, crumbly texture) is a sad waste of calories, but a great muffin is a jubilant start to your day. I adore and often physically crave breakfast pastries. Scones are my supreme favorite, but when I say I need a doughnut, I really mean it. I overlook the simple muffin sometimes, and it took a request from Mike for me to come up with this recipe.
Muffins are quick breads, so you’ll have these in the oven in 15 to 20 minutes. These particular muffins require an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugar, which gives them a fine, tender crumb (sort of like a c-a-k-e). Muffin recipes that call for the ingredients to be simply stirred together result in a coarser texture, which is especially good for whole grain muffins.
The base for this recipe comes from the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion and is intended as an all-purpose muffin batter to be dressed up any way you fancy. It makes muffins that are not nearly as sweet as a cake and are very moist thanks to the sour cream. I love the high, craggy tops that turn crisp during baking. In the end, there is only one thing that makes these muffins similar to your favorite cake—they are best enjoyed with a really good cup of coffee.
Adapted from the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion
I used a combination of whole wheat pastry flour, white flour and regular whole wheat flour. I would have gone with whole wheat pastry entirely, except I ran out. I cannot tell the difference anymore between my WW pastry flour and all-purpose in most baked goods. Use whatever you prefer, but I would not recommend using all regular whole wheat, as the result will likely be a bit heavy. King Arthur notes that the batter can be made and kept in the refrigerator for up to a week and baked at will.
Makes 16 muffins
1 ½ c. dried cranberries
1 c. orange juice
Butter, for greasing pan
3 ½ c. all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter (8 tbs. or 4 oz.), softened
1 c. sugar
3 large eggs
1 c. sour cream
2 1/2 tsp. grated orange zest
¾ c. sweetened, shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine the cranberries and orange juice in a small bowl and set aside to soften cranberries. Grease 16 muffin cups of two regular size muffin pans (preferably nonstick) with butter.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium high speed until light and fluffy, 2-4 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the sour cream and orange zest. Add the dry ingredients in two additions, beating on the lowest speed or stirring with a large spoon until just combined.
Drain the cranberries, discarding the orange juice. Fold the cranberries and coconut into the batter. Divide the batter among the sixteen muffin cups. The cups should be nearly full in order to make sixteen big muffins. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
If you like these, check out some more tasty cranberry-orange recipes from other food bloggers:
Cranberry Orange Bran Muffins from Farmgirl Fare
Very healthy, very vegan Cranberry Orange Muffins from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
Orange Cranberry Bread from Baking Sheet
Orange Cranberry Pecan Cinnamon Buns from Confessions of a Cardamom Addict
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