The light sweet scent of oranges permeated the house as these sweeties baked in the oven–absolutely delightful and made the house feel like spring even though it was a crisp morning and the sky was full of clouds. Just take a moment or two when you release these from the heat of the oven, close your eyes, and breathe in the scent of sunshine. Enjoy. Breathe again. Relax.
Now patiently wait 10 minutes for them to cool enough before sinking your teeth into one.
Better yet, make yourself a cup of tea (or coffee) while you wait, then take the tea and a muffin–hold on, better take two or three–go sit outdoors, and sip and munch away while you enjoy the crispness of the morning air and enjoy the flitting of the hummingbirds and the bees as they also nosh on their morning treats.
And do all this on a weekend morning when you don’t have to rush into work and can truly sit, relax, and soak in the sweet yet hearty taste of these muffins–sweet from the oranges with an ever-so-subtle undertone of the peel and pith (not bad at all, I promise) as well as the tender plump cranberries; hearty from the addition of whole wheat flour and walnuts, adding that ever-favored crunch I love.
I wasn’t sure how these would turn out considering they use an entire orange–and I mean entire: peel, pith, and all. But the blender pulverizes them plenty, especially if you own one of those high-powered machines that can turn plastic to dust (Blendtec or Vitamix). I bet even a food processor would do the trick.
To my delight, these baked up with golden crunchy tops, balanced the sweet and the earthy flavors, and left me feeling more on the healthy full-belly feeling rather than the overly sugary-sick feeling. A winner.
By the way, I highly recommend using a flavorful sweet and tangy orange, not the bland tasteless ones the grocery stores sell. I buy my oranges every weekend at a local farmer’s market and it has to be the best bargain ever: a five-pound bag for only two bucks! They are the juiciest, sweetest oranges I have ever had the delight to bite into. And that flavor shines through in these muffins.
- 1 orange, sliced into eighths
- 1/2 cup orange juice (I squeezed one orange and added water to get to the 1/ 2 cup mark)
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I used 3/4 cup all-purpose and 3/4 cup whole wheat)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup dried fruit (I used a bit less than 1/2 cup but then also added 1/2 cup chopped walnuts)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F; line muffin tins with baking cups.
- In a blender, combine egg, oil, orange juice, and sliced orange sections. Blend until smooth.
- Mix remaining ingredients except dried fruit (and nuts, if using) in a medium bowl; create a well for the orange mixture.
- Pour in the orange mixture and mix until a smooth batter forms.
- Fold in the dried fruit.
- Divide the remaining batter equally into 12 muffin tins. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Cool on a rack.