The Guilty Baker: Orange-Cranberry Mini Muffins

The Guilty Baker: Orange-Cranberry Mini Muffins

Procrastination inspires industrious bouts of housecleaning, and guilt brings out the baker in me.  I had been flying solo all week, while my husband basked in Florida on some pretext of simulating NASA satellite software (why couldn’t the tests be run in good old Maryland?). By Thursday, I had run ragged with the stress of haranguing my 14 year old out the door and into the school bus by 6:22 am. Dinner degenerated into nachos and guacamole.

Sharp pangs of guilt (or was it hunger?) gnawed at my maternal conscience as I dawdled over my morning coffee.  When I came across  claudia lamascolo ‘s recipe for orange muffins, I decided to face that burden head on. By 8:30 am, a dozen of these little delights were bagged and bound for the lab, while the house smelled of sugar and spice and all things nice. Welcome back, honey. Yes, I’ve been baking and slaving in the kitchen all week. 😉

The tang of orange zest and cranberries was a delicious counter to the sweetness, with bits of pecan surprise in every other bite. The edges were a bit tough, so I think I will try those frilly paper muffin liners next time. Do you like the cross-stitched napkin? I embroidered the set when I was a pigtailed school girl. My mother saved them for me all these years.  Now that I’ve established my Martha Stewart creds, I hope we can keep that junk food dinner between us, okay?


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86 Responses to The Guilty Baker: Orange-Cranberry Mini Muffins

  1. E.E. Giorgi says:

    yum! and lovely story to go with it. 🙂

  2. Rajini Rao says:

    E.E. Giorgi , thanks. The story is as much fun for me as the baking and cooking 🙂

  3. Mike Byrnes says:

    Rajini Rao Who says procrastination is wrong. Especially with this result? Thx for sharing the whole story. Makes me  hungry and nostalgic. Both are human needs.

  4. Rajini Rao says:

    Thanks Feisal Kamil . I told you about the chips and guacamole dinner on Thurs night. This made me feel better 🙂

  5. I thought of you while eating dinner yesterday, Rajini Rao.  A very crappy little Indian place changed ownership we noticed as we were driving by.  We decided to stop and had, among other things, an excellent Masala Dosa!  (No Malai Kofta or Aloo Paratha, unfortunately.)  In the attached market they sold a dry mix to make your own dosas.  I didn’t buy any, but I think I will next time.

  6. Rajini Rao says:

    Linda Hedrick , delighted that the dosas were good! Let me know if the mix works out.

    Gina Duarte , perhaps Julie Sahni? Let me find a link for you.

  7. Rajini Rao says:

    Gina Duarte , Julie Sahni’s Classic Indian Cooking is, well, a classic. Here it is:

    I have the vegetarian version and it’s great. She has more recent cookbooks as well that I’ve not checked out. If I buy Indian cookbooks, they tend to be very regional and specialized.

  8. Rajini Rao says:

    Are you a guilty baker too, Rashid Moore ? Do divulge your transgressions 😉

    You know me well, Feisal Kamil 🙂

  9. Rajini Rao says:

    I knew it was you who took that bite when my back was turned, Rashid Moore 🙂

  10. Rajini Rao says:

    Have two, Maria Soledad Velastin . They’re minis 🙂

  11. Rajini Rao says:

    Actually, we polished off the last two this morning. I took most of them to work, to feed my hungry students 🙂

    They didn’t seem to mind that the bottoms were a bit crusty!

  12. Rajini Rao says:

    You and I might, Feisal! These kids today have a high bar.

    They would dump me with the sawdust and harass find another mentor 😀

  13. Rajini Rao says:

    Feisal Kamil , you would have been an evil prof. I imagine your exam questions would be sneakily tricky. Michelle Beissel , do you use those little paper thingies? I read somewhere that they keep muffins moist. I don’t have a problem with the regular sized ones, but suspect that these little ones dry out/bake faster.

  14. René Riech says:

    Now, I am hungry….

  15. mary Zeman says:

    Rajini Rao  where are you in Baltimore again? I need to come visit…. LOL  (j/k)

  16. Rajini Rao says:

    mary Zeman , north on I-95, exit when you smell the orange zest 😀

  17. Rajini Rao says:

    Hope your friend likes it, Gina!

  18. Mary T says:

    Those look really yummy!  I’m not a guilty baker, cuz I don’t bake, but I thought of you when I bought spices the other day….cumin, coriander, and saffron.  I remembered the photo of your spice cabinet 😉

  19. Rajini Rao says:

    I’m delighted to hear of your investment in spices, Mara Rose . So nice of you to think of me along with spices…especially saffron, mmm.

  20. Rahul Joshi says:

    Hehe, what a louuvely story Rajini Rao ! :p Not to mention the pics. Feel like eating a muffin but alas there’s nothing remotely similar/tasty like that in fridge. I’m gonna have to sleep with hunger-dreams tonight now. Thanks!

  21. Rajini Rao says:

    You’re welcome, Rahul Joshi . Just add baking (guilty or otherwise) on your very own wonderwoman wish list 🙂 Sweet dreams! 

  22. Rahul Joshi says:

    Damn right I will! Gnite! 🙂

  23. Jim Carver says:

    Rajini Rao It’s true about the paper cups; they keep them from drying out so much. They don’t give you any crust when you peel them off though and it’s kind of like eating the inside on the outside.

    My trick is to put a big dollop of yogurt in the batter and it makes them stay moist. Works with any cake or biscuit. You can use sour cream also.  

  24. Rajini Rao says:

    Thanks for the tips, Jim Carver . The other muffin recipe I make often (blueberries/lemon) does have yogurt and I was wondering why that one did not crust up as much. I’ve never tried the paper cups..should look for them in the store.

  25. Tom Lee says:

    Looks delicious Rajini Rao Save me some !

  26. Jim Carver says:

    Rajini Rao Sure, they do make them very easy to get out too. I think like ‘real’ bakers, whoever they are, use parchment to line the pan/cups. I’ve never tried that. I guess that’s when you get really real.

  27. Jim Carver says:

    Anybody know the difference between a cupcake and a muffin? I’m not trying to be coy. Is it cupcakes are sweet and muffins aren’t? How about sweet muffins? Or one is eaten with a meal and the other (cupcakes) for dessert?

  28. Rajini Rao says:

    A cupcake is sweeter and is essentially a cake recipe (finer end product). Usually frosted. Muffins are a bit more bread-like and have fruits/nuts and stuff. I don’t think cupcakes have fruits in them, unless they are like fruit cake.

  29. Jim Carver says:

    Rajini Rao Oh yeah, right, it has more to do with texture. Of course I’ve made both, just wondering if there was a precise def., thanks!

  30. Rajini Rao says:

    Those were just my off the cuff thoughts..I’m sure there are bakers here who can straighten us out. 

  31. Jim Carver says:

    Yep, pretty sure that’s right.

  32. Chad Haney says:

    My wife made three different types of cookies. I’m not complaining but I need them like I need a hole in my head.

  33. Rajini Rao says:

    Just be sure to go for a jog with Ana when you’re done wolfing them down, Chad Haney 🙂

  34. Jim Carver says:

    Too hot to bake here Chad, unless it was outside. It’s 82F and I would need to turn on the A/C. Turn on the A/C in December? That’s just crazy.

  35. Chad Haney says:

    It’s surprisingly warm, 56F but she baked them a few days ago when it was more like 40F.

  36. Jim Carver says:

    I’m taking odds the Pine Island glacier might break free this season, and that’s one big cupcake.

  37. Procrastination, this reminds me of the old times when before an exam (and I had to study), I decided to clean the house, just to “get ready.” The end result I think was great a clean house & better studying …so procrastination gets a BAD reputation in my book. And you have muffins! 🙂

  38. Rajini Rao says:

    Been there, done that Cheryl Ann MacDonald! I too had quite the housecleaning/dishwashing zeal when exams came around. Even now, I refuse to start a big project, like starting on writing a grant, unless my desk is clean 😉

  39. Jim Carver says:

    Rajini Rao Cheryl Ann MacDonald Not me, I didn’t take time for frivolous activities. Stack ’em on the floor or get some take-out. 🙂 Especially now when every hour not spent studying or writing could cost a lot.

  40. Jim Carver says:

    Of course I would allow one diversion: Playing, “A Man Needs a Maid”, on the piano. 😉

  41. I really admire  the way you manage your work and home Rajini Rao and enjoy both!

  42. Rajini Rao says:

    Thanks, Sirome. The cooking gives me a way to de-stress, actually. It doesn’t take that much time, and in any case, we do need to eat 🙂 

    The tea post in your honor is still going strong! 

  43. You totally rock Rajini Rao. 

  44. Rajini Rao says:

    Shah Auckburaully , thanks 😀

  45. Mary T says:

    I love saffron in basmati rice.  Lovely.  Your spice cabinet was inspirational.

  46. Chad Haney says:

    I know it’s not your cup of tea, but the spice must flow.

    EON- The Spice Must Flow 1991

  47. Chad Haney says:

    Lulz Gnotic Pasta 

    Where is Feisal Kamil ?

  48. Rajini Rao says:

    Chad Haney , well, I got the reference to Dune at the beginning, if that counts 🙂

    Mara Rose , I also have spice blends stashed away in the freezer and fridge 🙂

  49. Rajini Rao says:

    Haha, Gnotic Pasta . Must I admit in public how well I know that song?

  50. Chad Haney says:

    Yes, he who controls the spice, controls the universe. Time to walk the dog. She controls the universe.

  51. Rajini Rao says:

    Have a good walk, Chad Haney , and bundle up.

  52. Rajini Rao says:

    That’s still chilly, Chad Haney 🙂 Better safe than sorry. 

  53. Chad Haney says:

    Dan would be in shorts.

  54. Rajini Rao says:

    OK, don’t complain later when you catch cold 😉

    Dan, she (Crystal Gayle) could be in the harem.

  55. Rajini Rao says:

    Enjoy the visit to the harem diner, Dan! Catch you later.

  56. I’ll have 2 of your nice warm muffins!  Did I say that out loud?

    … bad Jimmy! ….I go too far  😛

  57. Rajini Rao ” I had run ragged with the stress of haranguing my 14 year old out the door and into the school bus by 6:22 am”-

    Wait till it is 16-17 years as my daughters are and you will feel like torpedoing them into college campus faster than you can say “it is 630am now, you will be late to school….”.

    Btw, I still love them very much….  🙂

  58. Rajini Rao says:

    mandar khadilkar , oddly my daughter was a paragon of organization and self-sufficiency through her school years (she’s a senior in college now). The contrast makes it even harder 🙂

  59. Chad Haney says:

    Hey give the little beatnik a break. Maybe he figures he can’t compete with big sis.

  60. Rajini Rao says:

    Let me guess, you have five sisters Chad Haney ? 😉

  61. Rajini Rao says:

    Let me paraphrase, Chad Haney . Are you speaking from experience? 

  62. Chad Haney says:

    I do too with extra syrup.

  63. Rajini Rao says:

    So Sci-Fi sounding Feisal Kamil ! Will you meet the beauteous Padme?

  64. Rajini Rao says:

    The  Flow of Fruition could be a distant galaxy to rival the Milky Way.

  65. Chad Haney says:

    With nuts, no wait, that’s Snickers

  66. Rajini Rao says:

    As long as you’re not a Milk Dud, Chad Haney 😉

  67. Chad Haney says:

    Laffy Taffy is OK under the circumstances.

  68. Rajini Rao says:

    Don’t you be running after a Tootsie Roll, Chad Haney .

  69. Vinay Mishra says:



  70. Dan Thomas says:

    I Love Muffins Alot😏😏😏

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