Living in warm northern California, where our summer temperatures regularly reach 100°F, it rarely feels like fall until the beginning of November. Days stay sunny and around 70-80°F clear through Halloween, with only an occasional puffy white cloud in the sky.
So when I woke up to rain this past Saturday morning—not just a sprinkle, not just a drizzle, but full-on rain—I thought I was still dreaming and checked the calendar for the date. October 25. Hmm…
I stared out the window for a few minutes like a tiny baby seeing water falling from the sky for the first time, full of awe and wonder, before eventually wandering back to my closet to pull out running clothes, with the plan of hopping on the treadmill.
However, I logged onto my computer for a bit first to check Facebook and respond to Tweets. (A blogger’s work is never done!) When I resurfaced twenty minutes later and glanced outside, a beam of sunlight shone down between two pale gray fluffy clouds. The rain had completely stopped!
So I tentatively started jogging outside past the elementary school and through the dog park. By the time I arrived home an hour later, the sun had entirely replaced the clouds! What strange weather we have…
And once I pulled off my sneakers and walked into the kitchen, I immediately grabbed one of these Cranberry Orange Muffins. Their cute orange huge and bright citrus flavor exactly matched the sunshine outside!
Earlier this month, a reader asked if I had a recipe for cranberry orange muffins, and I stared at my computer screen in surprise. I adore that flavor combination—it was the first scone flavor I ever tried as a 14-year-old and I even turned it into granola last fall—but I hadn’t created a classic healthy muffin recipe with it yet!
So here’s the result! These easy muffins are soft, tender, and have the perfect crumb. They’re packed with bright citrus flavor with the perfect tangy complement from the dried cranberries. Although maybe a little too perfect… I ate way too many in one day!
The first step on the instructions may sound a little strange. You need to combine the dried cranberries with water and microwave for a bit. This actually rehydrates the cranberries and softens them so they aren’t quite so tough and chewy. It also ensures that the muffins stay moist. Otherwise, the dried cranberries would soak up moisture from the batter while they baked, which would dry out the muffins.
You’ll need one large orange for these muffins. Yes, you could use a carton of OJ instead, but nothing beats the pure flavor of freshly squeezed. And since you absolutely need the zest, you might as well juice the orange too.
Yes, that’s right. Do not skip the zest! That’s actually where the majority of the orange flavor comes from. If your orange doesn’t yield a tablespoon of zest, just use whatever you get—whether it’s over or under. It won’t matter too much!
Split fresh out of the oven or toasted with a little pat of butter melting in between the tender crumbs, these Cranberry Orange Muffins just can’t be beat! They’re the perfect cool-weather breakfast… And snack… And dessert… And…
Now you can probably see why mine are already gone!