There is not a much better way to spend an afternoon than playing bridge with good friends, as I did this past Wednesday. I made these beautiful Cranberry Orange Muffins to take along with me to share with my bridge ladies (and one man).
These are not gigantic muffins: on the contrary they are quite small, just the size of a muffin tin and not much larger, and that’s ok.
It’s ok because those huge commercial muffins are loaded with fat and sugar. These muffins on the other hand have approximately a third of the sugar of a McDonald’s muffin and about one eighth of the fat.
I’m a fine one to talk – I love foods that are high in fat and sugar, but we pay the price for those foods in poor health, and if scientists are to be believed, diminished life expectancy. So I will take a smaller muffin any day.
These little gems are easy and quick to bake – just 20 minutes in a 375 F oven. If you prefer to have a Cranberry-Orange Loaf, you just turn down the oven to 350 F and cook them for 60 to 75 minutes.
2 Cups of All-purpose flour
3/4 Cup of sugar – use fair trade!
1.5 rounded teaspoons of baking powder
A pinch of salt
1/4 cup of vegan margarine, well-chilled (I used Earth Balance)
Zest of two oranges – choose oranges with bright, tight peels – I find they grate better
Egg replacer to the equivalent of one egg – I used Ener-G Egg Replacer but feel free to use your favourite egg replacer
3/4 cup of orange juice
1 cup of chopped dried cranberries, or chopped fresh cranberries
1 cup of chopped walnuts
First things first – for muffins, pre-heat the oven to 375 F. If you are making a loaf, pre-heat to 350 F
- Add flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and orange zest to a large mixing bowl or to the bowl of a stand mixer, and whisk or stir until all of these ingredients are well-blended
- Using a pastry cutter or two knives, blend the vegan margarine into the flour until it is evenly distributed
- Add orange juice and egg replacer and stir until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated into the wet ingredients. Try to make sure there are no dry bits left at the bottom of the bowl.
- Stir in the cranberries and the walnuts.
- Prepare a muffin pan in your preferred way – I use muffin papers.
- Divide the batter evenly between the twelve muffin cups in the pan. I find that a large size cookie scoop is perfect for this purpose – it gives me uniformly-sized muffins and saves me from getting batter all over the pan.
- Put your muffins in the oven and set your timer for 17 – 22 minutes. My muffins were perfect at 20 minutes. I tested at 17 and they were not fully cooked. Of course ovens vary.
- If you are making a loaf cook your loaf in a prepared pan for 60 to 75 minutes, but test first at 60 minute, and then every five minutes afterwards.
- Variations on a theme: try blueberries in place of cranberries.