Orange and Cranberry Muffins

Christmas morning, for me, was always a sort of fancy affair. We would get washed and dressed in Sunday best before touching any presents. Friends of mine were often mortified that we didn’t open presents until lunchtime. We would usually go to church or visit close friends and then come back home for presents and smoked salmon on brown bread triangles with little wedges of lemon and glasses of bucks fizz. That was our Christmas morning, and although when you’re 10 years old it can be pretty torturous looking at a pile of presents you can’t open for another 4 hours, I wouldn’t have it any other way and I suspect I might subject my future offspring to the same. Like I said on Friday, I love a good tradition. My mum never wanted us to be completely done with presents by 7am and then have little to do for the rest of the day, she made us wait because it made it special and I’m grateful for that now.

Nick and I are developing our own traditions now and it’s strange to leave old ones behind, sadly I can’t keep smoked salmon as a tradition because Nick doesn’t like it and I don’t much feel like consuming a whole load of smoked salmon on my own (joking, of course I do!). We drank bucks fizz last year but did so in festive pyjamas. One tradition I will always keep is that of new pyjamas for Christmas Eve. I love new pyjamas!

I’ve always liked the idea of fresh muffins on Christmas morning and orange and cranberry are so festive. You can make these extra special by drizzling some orange icing on top or just leave them plain. I found this recipe in the Back in the Day Bakery cookbook. I seriously wish I could visit this bakery because it looks so beautiful and the book is just fantastic. There are some great recipes in the book and I’ve gotten quite used to converting things from cups to grams now so I don’t find it as daunting, but if you buy the book from Amazon as I did it comes with a piece of paper in the back with all the conversions on for UK readers. There’s marmalade in this mix which adds a bit more depth to the flavour, especially if you buy dark thick cut marmalade as I did. The cranberries are sweet and like little rubies dotted through the muffins.

I really love this recipe and it’s so easy to make. Luckily cranberries are in abundance in the shops here at the moment so you can go mad. I made a really nice stuffing for Thanksgiving and scattered fresh cranberries instead of dried through the mix, it was really good. My Christmas dinner is usually smothered in a mix of cranberry and bread sauce…and don’t even get me started on my boxing day sandwich! The original recipe called for orange extract but I just used juice from the orange and doubled the amount. It might not be as intense, and if you have orange extract just swap out the orange juice for 2 teaspoons of extract.

Orange and Cranberry Muffins
(Recipe adapted slightly from the Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook)

240g plain flour, plus 1 tablespoon for the berries
200g caster sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
60ml vegetable oil
60g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
175ml whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons orange juice or juice of 1/2 an orange
70g dark orange marmalade
150g fresh cranberries

for the glaze:
juice of 1/2 an orange
125g icing sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 175 C/350 F. Line a muffin tray with cases. Toss the cranberries in a tablespoon of flour and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, butter, milk, vanilla and orange juice. 
  3. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid ingredients. Mix until just combined. Gently fold in the marmalade and the cranberries, being careful not to crush them. 
  4. Spoon the batter into the muffin cases, filling about 2/3 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire cooling rack.
  5. To make the glaze, whisk together the orange juice and icing sugar. When the muffins are completely cooled, drizzled the glaze over the tops.
  6. Thee muffins will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 days.