Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Orange Cranberry Muffins: A Recipe for Wintry Days

 Oranges and cranberries. They're a favorite pairing right now. Right along with sun dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts. It may have something to do with the fact that it's the middle of winter and garden fresh vegetables robust with flavor are still months away. Oranges are in season right now along with all their relatives in their citrus family. My new favorite orange variety is the blood orange. The flesh is a deep red color, the flavor sweet and tangy. I feel all gourmet when I slice them up for an afternoon snack.

 Here in Northern Alberta, we have (to the best of my knowledge) two opportunities to stock up on fresh cranberries. Thanksgiving and Christmas. I missed the very small window in October and made sure I stocked up in December. I freeze the bags of tart, red berries until I want them. They make a lovely addition to scones, biscotti, or muffins.

I've tried a couple different orange cranberry muffins but I've never quite been satisfied with the end result. I want to taste the zing of the cranberry and the zip of the orange. And so I made modifications after modifications until the results tasted like what I had been trying to create. Kilmeny and I made these one morning during Khaira's nap. Kilmeny is just getting to the age where with a lot of patience (on my part!) she can actually be a help to me as I bustle in the kitchen. She can crack eggs with great proficiency, zest oranges, counts along with me as I measure, and is a top-notch dumper of full measuring cups. And she makes a great taste-tester!

                                                           Orange Cranberry Muffins
 (a vintage box creation)

2 c flour (I used a mixture of spelt, hard red and soft white wheat flours)
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/4 t cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c cranberry sauce
3/4 c sugar
1/2  c unsweetened applesauce (if sweetened, lessen sugar amount)
1 orange, peeled and minced
4 T orange zest or peel of an orange
 1 1/2 c cranberries (fresh or frozen)

Mix dry ingredients together. Mix wet ingredients together. Combine and add fruit, stir until moistened. Spoon batter (will be lumpy) into greased muffin tins. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 or until they test done. These are best served warm but they also freeze well, perfect for a little something with a cup of steaming tea!

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