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Cranberry Streusel Muffins

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With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I decided it’s time to switch gears and embrace the ingredients of the season with full enthusiasm! 

For the past few weeks, I’ve been clinging to the memory of sweet, juicy summer fruits and lamenting the arrival of cool weather.  The last of the peaches that I was adding to my breakfast tasted too much like cardboard, so I picked up a bag of cranberries at the store.  Their transformation from hard little red berries to tasty streusel-topped muffins was so successful that I’m no longer feeling nostalgic for summer.  

Cranberries are a neat little fruit.  Considered a “superfruit” because of their many antioxidants, they are becoming more popular for consumption beyond the traditional Thanksgiving condiment, but often that requires large amounts of sugar to make them edible because they’re so tart!  

Apparently, the name derives from “crane berry”, since early European settlers in America thought that the plant and opening bud resembled the neck and bill of a crane.  Native North Americans made pemmican from pounding cranberries together with meat and drying it.  Cranberries were also shipped to royalty in Europe as a gift from settlers, who knew how foreign and exotic the fruit would seem.  I find it extremely satisfying to eat a fruit that truly is a local product, originating in the northern hemisphere and continuing to be harvested in most Canadian provinces and some northern states.  There is very little cranberry production elsewhere in the world.  

So grab yourself a bag of cranberries and toss it in the freezer, where it will keep indefinitely.  Just use them frozen – no need to thaw, or you’ll have red juice dyeing whatever you’re making!  These muffins are a great breakfast treat and an even better mid-morning snack with coffee, as I’m currently discovering!



Cranberry Streusel Muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tbsp baking powder

Pinch salt

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 cup milk

¼ cup vegetable oil

2 tbsp grated orange or lemon rind

1-1/2 cups cranberries

¼ cup brown sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/3 cup slivered almonds (optional)

1. In a bowl, combine flours, baking powder, and salt.

2. In a large bowl, combine egg, granulated sugar, milk, oil, and orange peel.

3. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and stir just until combined.  Stir in cranberries.

4. Scoop batter into 12 large oiled or paper-lined muffin cups.

5. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and almonds, if using.  Sprinkle over top of muffins.  Bake in a preheated 400F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Make 12 muffins.

From “Heart Smart” by Bonnie Stern

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Thursday, October 06, 2011