Just as procrastination inspires industrious bouts of housecleaning, 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.
So it was that by the next morning, sharp pangs of guilt (or was it hunger?) gnawed at my maternal conscience as I dawdled over my morning coffee. When I came across a speedy 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.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F and bring two eggs and half a cup of milk to room temperature. Line muffin cups with those frilly paper liners. They make a moister product. I didn’t have any, so I used my usual non-stick muffin pan.
- Zest two oranges using a microplane grater, taking care to avoid the bitter white pith.
- Add the dry ingredients to the orange zest:
2 cups white flour
0.5 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
0.5 tsp salt
- My variation has a handful of dried cranberries and chopped pecans (the original recipe called for chocolate chips). Mix well.
- Whisk together wet ingredients:
0.5 cup orange juice
0.5 cup milk
0.25 cup canola (vegetable) oil
- Pour the wet into the dry. Mix together with sparing movements. If you overdo it, you’ll have tough muffins.
- Fill the batter into the muffin tins. Oops, I ran out of batter before filling them all.
Baking is not an exact science, even if they say it is. Anyway, they also say that good cooks make lousy bakers. I say, the proof is in the muffin. Oh, for fun, I sprinkled some sugar on top of each batter filled cup.
- Bake for 20 min, checking a few minutes before to see if a knife inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
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 the 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?