Sunday, November 6, 2011

I'm splitting today's post into to entries, since it's so long. In the spirit of this cold November weekend, I'm going to share my mom's recipe for orange cranberry bread, or at least my adaptation of it since my mom refuses to use a recipe for anything.

Mom's Orange-Cranberry Bread (I made muffins)

- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cup brown sugar
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/4 cups of orange juice
*Note* I used freshly squeezed OJ when I made these yesterday since I was using oranges for the zest anyway (okay, really I just forgot to buy orange juice.) This didn't quite provide the orangy flavor I wanted. I would play with pureeing the oranges. My mom pointed out that by doing this, you're keeping the flavor and have added health benefits (mitigated by the the use of butter, sugar, and processed flour, of course.)
- Grated peel of 2 oranges (I found out that I really need a zester yesterday. The cheese grater just made it so I wasted half of my orange zest)
- 4 tablespoons melted butter (you can use margarine if you want, but let's face it, margarine leaves a slightly chemically flavor to everything it touches, so I do not recommend it.)
- 4 tablespoons hot water
- 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
- 2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. I did 375 yesterday, and that was a bit too high. You can experiment with whatever you think works for your oven.

The process is simple. Mix together your dry ingredients in one large bowl (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices, etc.) In a separate larger bowl, whisk your eggs, and then add the orange juice, orange peel, melted butter, and hot water. Mix until just combined (i.e., don't overdo it.) Fold in the cranberries and walnuts.

Keep in mind that these are muffins, and not cupcakes, so the batter will be thicker. This is how it is supposed to be. Muffins are much denser than cupcakes. The only reason I'm mentioning this is that when I first started making these the thickness of the batter made me worry that they would turn out weird. Luckily the ingredients work their magic and the turn out beautifully.

Honestly, I didn't time these, so I can't really give you an exact time. I would say it probably took about 30 minutes. Check at 20 minutes. Use a toothpick, or if you're like me, a butter knife (I really need to get the essentials so I can stop improvising.) It will come out clean when it's done. They should be a golden brown on top.

Let the muffins sit for about 5 minutes, and then move to a cooling rack. Once cool, add the eggnog glaze I've provided below.

Eggnog Glaze (can be regular glaze if you'd like, or you can forego the glaze altogether. I was just experimenting)
1/4 cup melted butter
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 tablespoons light eggnog (I would use light eggnog, as it is closer to the consistency of milk than regular eggnog. Also, if you prefer to just use milk, go for it. I would add a teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract if you decide to do a regular glaze to add flavor.)
Sift the powdered sugar into a large bowl. Add the melted butter. Mix these together, and then add the eggnog/milk. Beat until smooth. This is just a starting point. I ended up having to add more eggnog, but you may not have to.
Glazing your muffins:
I just wanted to add a little bit of thanksgiviny-flavor to these muffins. However, I would avoid using the glaze as a frosting. I used a Wilton squeeze bottle to do designs on the top of them, for just a touch of added flavor.

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