A very Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you all!
Christmas for me is really an excuse to cook and eat things I normally wouldn’t. Preparing food for my family and friends is my love language; if I enjoy your company, chances are I will find a reason to feed you something I’ve made. Our Christmas tradition is to have the big turkey dinner on Christmas Eve night, with good friends as our guests.
On Christmas Day I don’t cook. My husband cooks a big breakfast for everyone after the presents are opened; we have a vegetable tray, lots of savoury treats, cheese, crackers… we graze all day long and generally have turkey sandwiches for supper.
This year, we’ll also have these delicious muffins! I hope they become a part of your family’s celebrations, too.
1 cup cranberries (not dried – I used fresh, although frozen would probably work too, as long as you thawed & drained them first)
Sprinkle the chopped cranberries with 1/4 cup white sugar and set aside.
Sift together in a large bowl:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
In a small bowl, combine
1 beaten egg
1/4 tsp. grated orange peel
3/4 cup orange juice
1/3 cup melted butter or margarine
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, and pour in the wet all at once. Stir gently to moisten.
Once your batter is blended, fold in the cranberries and 1/4 cup of chopped nuts (I used walnuts).
375F for 15 – 20 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.
Probably the most painstaking part of this recipe is chopping the cranberries. They have a terrible tendency to leap out from under the knife blade and roll all over the kitchen floor. I found myself wishing for a Slap-Chop or something. Make sure that you chop them as fine as you’d like them to be in the finished product, because they do not break down during the baking process.
Otherwise it’s very straightforward, and it makes the COOLEST batter ever. It is a yellowish-creamy colour, studded with the bright red cranberries. It’s foamy and puffy, and when you scoop it into the muffin tin it holds its shape. You do need to stir with a light hand, though. You can see the air bubbles which I assume are formed by a reaction between the baking powder and the citric acid in the orange juice, and if you stir too vigorously you’ll pop the air bubbles, resulting in flat muffins. So go a little gently with this one.
At fifteen minutes these were not done, so I popped them in for another five and they were perfectly baked with golden brown edges on the tops.
My two older kids wouldn’t even try them, after tasting the batter and finding the fresh cranberries too tart. The baby, on the other hand, has eaten two already today and loved them, so it will really depend on your kids’ palates.
Michael and I really like them. The muffin itself is faintly sweet, and the cinnamon / allspice combo comes through well. The bits of cranberry are tart kick but very fresh.
It’s hard to describe the taste, but it is certainly very Christmassy, and a plate of these on your festive table would look fantastic.
From my family to yours, all of our best wishes for a safe and happy holiday with the ones you love.