Friends, I just can’t accept the fact that it’s the middle of December. I just. can. not. How is it that there are fewer than two weeks until Christmas? Where has the month gone? I need for time to just slow down. Take a breather. Relax.
For one thing, it just doesn’t feel like December. It was 65 degrees outside today. There I was, out in the garden, picking collards and broccoli and lettuce. Relishing the warmth. Feeling slightly off kilter because it IS December, after all, and my garden is still offering up all sorts of goodies.
December. Last year it snowed on Christmas.
I’m kind of torn. I love the fact that the kids can still play outside in the afternoons, but I miss having a fire every night in the fireplace. I love the lovely greens still coming out of the garden, but I would also love it if it snowed one day soon. I want the best of both worlds. I guess I just need to learn to be thankful for what I’ve got.
I had a meeting the other morning at the school where I used to work. I was supposed to be there at 8 a.m., but Atlanta traffic had other plans for me. As I was sitting there, surrounded by every commuter in the metropolitan area, I praised the fact that my new job is three miles from my house. I used to drive 50 miles round-trip. Every day. Now it’s ten at the most – and that’s because I have to drop the little one off at day-care beforehand. I know I’m thankful for that.
Because it was an 8 o’clock meeting, I wanted to provide some goodies that we could munch while we chatted. I had recently dried a bunch of cranberries in my dehydrator, and candied some orange zest using honey in place of the granulated sugar. I love the combination of orange and cranberry, so I decided to bake a variation on this crumb cake I made last year, but making muffins instead.
Streusel-topped Cranberry Orange Muffinsadapted from the Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbookprep time: 15 minutescook time: 35-45 minutesyields: 1 9-inch square cakeIngredientsFor the topping:1/2 cup sucanat (or firmly packed dark brown sugar))1 cup old fashioned oats1/2 teaspoon cinnamon5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoonsgenerous pinch of saltFor the batter:2 cups freshly ground flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)1/2 cup plus honey granules (or granulated sugar)1 teaspoon baking powder1/4 teaspoon cinnamon1/4 teaspoon salt1/3 cup sour cream1/3 cup half and half2 large eggs1/4 cup coconut oil4 large pieces candied orange peel, chopped
1 cup unsweetened dried cranberries, reconstituted in 1/2-cup of apple cider
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
- In the bowl of your food processor, combine the brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, and butter. Pulse the it until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set the mixture aside in the refrigerator.
- Add the reconstituted cranberries, along with the liquid, and the candied zest to the food processor. Process until the berries and zest are chopped
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
- In a large bowl, co tmbinehe sour cream, half and half, eggs, and oil
- Add the flour mixture to the sour cream mixture and stir just to combine. Fold in the cranberry mixture.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the batter.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.
What’s nice about these is that the muffins themselves are not too sweet (the tart cranberries take care of that), so the sweet streusel topping really contrasts nicely with them. The original recipe called for using fresh cranberries that have been chopped in the food processor, but I think the dried ones work equally as well. I definitely like the addition of the candied zest. They were a big hit with my kids, and with my fellow meeting attendees. I think they would also be a delightful addition to your holiday breakfast or brunch table, if you do that sort of thing.