Recipes

Spiced Cranberry Orange Muffins

If you want your house to smell like the holidays, whip up a batch of these spiced cranberry orange muffins ASAP! My comment to Nathan as they were baking is that “it smells like Christmas”. Not to do any disservice to Thanksgiving, of course! These muffins are packed with tart cranberries and would be a perfect addition to any Thanksgivingtime* breakfast. Something else that makes these great for around the holidays? The muffins taste best when totally cooled off, so they’re a great option for making a day ahead of time. (The orange and spices come through reallllly strong when these muffins are warm but fades to “just right” when room temperature.) It might go without saying, but these muffins are heavily studded with fresh cranberries, so expect a bit of tasty sourness from the fruit.

*Why is Christmastime considered a word but not Thanksgivingtime? I say it should be. So I’m using it anyway, despite the dictionary/word powers-that-be.

Let’s take a quick break to talk about photos. Do you like having the step-by-step photos? Are they actually helpful? It’s standard food blog procedure, which is why I fell into it out of precedence. But as I was browsing a couple cookbooks at the library this week, I realized I don’t like when you have photos for every step. To me, it feels too busy and that it sort of bogs things down. If there’s a weird step or unusual technique, etc, bring on the photos, but the rest of the time, I just want to see what the finished product should look like. So we’re trying that out on here today. Let me know what you think!

Before we dive into the recipe for the spiced cranberry orange muffins, here are a few complimentary recipes that will help you use up the quirky ingredients:

If you purchase the small sized bag of cranberries at the store, this recipe leaves you with about an extra cup of fruit. What to do with that extra cup? It’s just the right amount for a loaf of Cranberry Banana Bread! I also like freezing the washed and dried cranberries to give to George as a post-walk snack. Yep, dogs can eat plain cranberries, just in moderation. And I figure one lone cranberry definitely qualifies as moderation when being fed to a 75 pounder. 😊

What are you going to do with orange extract laying around the house? Whip up some Orange Scones! They’re soft, sweet, and addictive…Best when enjoyed with a hot cup of tea or coffee.

Why does cardamom sound familiar? It featured a couple recipes back, in Apple Cake with Cider Glaze. Cardamom is a wonderful, lemony spice that compliments so many varieties of holiday baking!

For the Spiced Cranberry Orange Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

2/3 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 orange
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole-wheat flour
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/16 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
½ cup milk
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon orange extract
2 cups cranberries, washed and dried

Preheat the oven to 360°F. Line a muffin tin with 12 muffin liners.

In a medium bowl, zest the orange into the sugar. Press together with a spoon until the orange oil in the zest has been dispersed throughout, it should tint the sugar a light orange and be very fragrant.

Wash and dry your cranberries, tossing out any bad ones. Set aside 2 cups of cranberries for this recipe.

Add the flours, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and baking powder into the bowl with the sugar. Stir to combine.

In a small bowl, mix together the oil, milk, eggs, and vanilla and orange extracts.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Expect the batter to be quite thick. (It lightens up in the oven! You end up with a substantial, but light, crumb.)

Fold 2 cups of cranberries into the muffin batter.

Divide the batter between the 12 muffin liners. Yes, it really does all fit, your muffin liners will just filled nearly to the top.

Spiced cranberries muffins in the tin before and after baking.

Bake for 30 minutes or so, until the tops are golden and a baking skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Cool and enjoy!

The muffins keep for three to four days, however, you need to leave your container lid cracked just a bit so the tops of the muffins don’t get soggy (which they will do in a hurry in an airtight container). You can also individually wrap these and pop them in the freezer.

Spiced Cranberry Orange Muffins

Course Breakfast
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 12 Muffins
Julie at Baking and Other Important Matters

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/16 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange extract
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 360°F. Line a muffin tin with 12 muffin liners.

  2. In a medium bowl, zest the orange into the sugar. Press together with a spoon until the orange oil in the zest has been dispersed throughout, it should tint the sugar a light orange and be very fragrant.
  3. Wash and dry your cranberries, tossing out any bad ones. Set aside 2 cups of cranberries for this recipe.
  4. Add the flours, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and baking powder into the bowl with the sugar. Stir to combine.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together the oil, milk, eggs, and vanilla and orange extracts.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Expect the batter to be quite thick. 

  7. Fold 2 cups of cranberries into the muffin batter.
  8. Divide the batter between the 12 muffin liners. Yes, it really does all fit, your muffin liners will just filled nearly to the top.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes or so, until the tops are golden and a baking skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  10. Cool and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

The muffins keep for three to four days, however, you need to leave your container lid cracked just a bit so the tops of the muffins don't get soggy (which they will do in a hurry in an airtight container). You can also individually wrap these and pop them in the freezer.

6 thoughts on “Spiced Cranberry Orange Muffins

  1. Ok, Julie, I enjoy all of your recipes but you hit my “sweet spot” (pun intended) with this one. Dan and I are afternoon coffee drinkers and love to have something healthy and homemade to have with our beverage. Three questions: is there anything I would need to change or add in order to make these all whole wheat? How long would you say they would stay fresh in the refrigerator? Finally, do you ever substitute unsweetened applesauce for the oil? Thank you!

    1. So glad this recipe looks to have hit your “sweet spot”. 🙂 I’ve never made this with all whole-wheat flour or applesauce in place of the oil, but I think the swaps would work well, though the muffins might be a bit heavier than with an all-purpose/whole-wheat blend. All whole-wheat tends to cut the sweetness, but I imagine the applesauce (even unsweetened) should add a nice sweetness to counteract the wheat. They should keep 5 or 6 days in the fridge, but the cold will likely dry them out. A few seconds in the microwave should help that…While I don’t love the recipe warm as is, I don’t think the orange or spice will overwhelm the whole-wheat when warm. Hope this turns out great for you!

  2. What a delicious muffin! I made them yesterday and the most difficult part was waiting until they cooled…
    I appreciate that you incorporate ingredients you have used in other recipes, and give reminders on how to use up leftover items.
    I always keep muffins in the freezer, and these will be at the top of my list!

    1. So glad you enjoyed these! Muffins are a great freezer food…Just sitting out overnight or a quick zap in the microwave and you’ve got a “fresh” muffin.

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