sometimes change is hard. sometimes change is really really hard. sometimes you're the one who gets to jump off the cliff, sometimes life gives you a nudge. or a shove.
finding a new favorite muffin recipe is not hard change. for close to ten years, i'd been a pretty strong proponent of a gem of a muffin recipe. really tender from sour cream, a sweet but not too sweet base that let pretty much any mix-in shine.
but i've been won away. by browned butter. and the best crumble topping. and you know how i feel about crumble.
my new muffin base is from the joy the baker cookbook. which you should buy if you love to bake. she has some real gems in there.
luckily, the power of the internets will also bring you the original recipe for free, over on shutterbean.
i've made the original blueberry version with much success here. but it is fall. i had some leftover cranberries. i wanted that tart burst of flavor, and a hit of wintery citrus.
let's be honest, i wanted to try out a new cranberry technique from cooks illustrated. because cranberries, like change, can be hard to manage. they can be too puckery, too bitter. they need a bit of care, especially if you are using fresh berries, not to overwhelm a bite, to leave you with the right balance of tart and sweet and juicy.
the solution is to roughly chop them and let them sit for a minute with a sprinkle of salt to draw out the bitter and a bit of powdered sugar to tame the sour.
if only solving life's imbalances were so easy!
the result is a true cranberry flavor, evenly distributed through your muffin. a bit of nutty depth from the browned butter. bright orangey citrus. and that crumble. picture perfect.
Orange Cranberry Muffins
Adapted from Joy the Baker's Browned Butter Blueberry Muffins. Makes about 12 muffins.
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoons salt, plus a bit more
- 1 orange worth of zest
- 3 tablespoons cold butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Dash of salt
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and put liners into your muffin tin - this recipe will make around a dozen regular muffins.
To brown the butter, melt it in a pot on the stove and then let it keep going until the white foam mostly goes away and the butter becomes a warm brown color with little black specks. Just keep a good eye on it because it will turn from brown to burned pretty quickly. It will smell nutty and fantastic once it's done, and then you need to take it off the heat and pour into a heat-safe bowl to keep it from continuing to cook.
Roughly chop your cranberries and place in a small bowl. Sprinkle with salt and powdered sugar, stir and leave to sit on counter while you get your batter together.
In a medium bowl, whisk your milk, eggs and vanilla. Add the butter when it is a little cool, but hasn't hardened. Whisk to mix.
In a larger bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Zest your orange and add that in. Add butter mixture, and gently stir just intil batter comes together. Add cranberries and fold gently to combine. Divide the batter among the muffin cups.
To make the crumble, combine all ingredients in a bowl and use your fingers to smush together. Don't worry about fully working butter into the dry ingredients, you want it crumbly! Sprinkle a healthy serving of crumble over the muffins - it makes plenty!
Bake for 18-20 minutes until the edges start to turn golden and when you insert a skewer into the center, it comes out clean.
Delicious warm with salted butter, but they will keep for a couple of days in a tupperware container. They're so good, you think that they'll get gobbled up. But as someone who has sat at the bottom of the cliff with that tupperware container, I know you'll thank your lucky stars.