Monday, August 1, 2011

Red Currant and Orange Muffins

The fruit and vegetable stall that I pass every day coming to and from home is showcasing bright red currants right now, and I finally caved and added some to my grocery bags the other day.  I thought about making a red currant cake or tart, inspired by the beautiful pictures on Cannelle et Vanille, but in the end I turned to my favorite quick baking fix: muffins.  
Southern Spoon blog: red currants

I bake a batch of muffins almost once a week, playing with different fruit (or vegetables), flours, and sweeteners.  They're great to have on hand for breakfast, a snack, or dessert, and you can doctor a recipe to make them pretty wholesome and healthy.  If you feel like an entire dozen is too much, bake the whole batch, then place half in a freezer bag or foil and freeze.  To thaw, just heat a muffin in the microwave on high for about 15 seconds.    
Southern Spoon blog: red currant and orange muffins
fresh batch of red currant and orange muffins
This is one of my favorite muffin adaptations, the texture and flavor are wonderful.  I substituted extra virgin olive oil for the usual butter, added orange juice and rind, and used lots of milk and natural yogurt to make a very tender and moist crumb.  The tiny red currants are sweetened by the orange flavors, vanilla, and a combination of natural cane and white sugar.  Make sure to only mix the wet and dry ingredients until just combined-- some lumps of flour may remain.  This way you'll end up with a light, tender muffin.  
Southern Spoon blog: red currant and orange muffins
Around Christmas these would also work well with fresh or frozen cranberries. Enjoy!

Red Currant and Orange Muffins
makes 12 muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour (for some of this you may substitute 1/2 cup or even 1 cup of whole wheat flour if you have it)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground sea salt
1/2 cup sugar (use 1/4 cup refined white sugar and 1/4 cup natural, unrefined cane sugar if you have it)
1 egg
3/4 cups milk
1/4 cup natural, low-fat yogurt
juice and grated zest from 1 large orange (about 1/4 cup juice and 1 1/2 teaspoons zest)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup red currants

In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  

In another bowl, use a whisk to mix the sugar and egg well so that you beat some air into the mixture.  Add the egg, milk, yogurt, orange juice and zest, olive oil and vanilla, mixing well with the whisk.  

Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture, and stir with the whisk just until combined.  Some lumps of flour may remain.  Add the currants and carefully stir them in, stirring only 2-3 times.  

Divide batter into a greased and floured 12-cup muffin tin.  Bake at 350F/ 175C for 16-18 minutes, until risen and beginning to turn golden brown on top.

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