Cranberries need to be pulled from ranks of sauce and given their full due as a fruit. These muffins are the perfect blend of sweet and tart. The bright dots of red color add a festive note to what is essentially a basic muffin.
I adapted this recipe from The Joy of Cooking by Mrs. Irma S. Rombauer. This is my basic go-to cookbook for anything and everything even as a vegetarian. Gam was friends with Mrs. Rombauer and did much of her initial recipe testing. Gam was the kind of baker who kept a notebook of the weather as she baked. An overcast sky always meant baking times would be slightly longer. She instinctively understood the chemical reactions of baking soda, baking powder and the various liquids such as milk, sour cream or yogurt. Cooking really is a science as much as an art.
This recipe will make a dozen muffins.
First, set your oven at 350 degrees.
2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
Whisk together the dry ingredients.
1 cup milk (I used 2% which has some fat.)
2/3 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
4 tablespoons of melted butter (Don't substitute with vegetable oil. The muffin won't be nearly as tasty if you do.)
In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Blend them together until just moist. The batter will still be a bit lumpy, but that's okay.
Fold in 1 1/2 cups of fresh cranberries.
Butter your a muffin tin.
Divide the batter among the muffin cups. I like to use an ice cream scoop for this job as the batter is thick.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until top is golden brown. When a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean, you know the muffins are definitely done. The slightly longer cooking time than your average muffin is due to the cranberries.
Allow to cool (if you can resist) and serve warm. Eat them within a few hours of baking or freeze them in a container. I will take a frozen one, pop it into my little toaster oven and let it warm up at 325 degrees for 10 minutes (or until thoroughly defrosted). I love how this method makes the exterior of the muffin a bit crispier while preserving the soft quality of the interior of the muffin. Note of caution: you have to let the muffins completely cool off before freezing them. If you don't, they will stick together and be more prone to freezer burn. They keep nicely for 3 months in the freezer. Make some ahead of time for New Year's Day brunch.