Cranberry Muffins with Orange Zest and Pecans

Yesterday, my sister-in-law, Terry, asked me to post my recipe for cranberry nut muffins. I had completely forgotten about these flavor-packed muffins!

The ingredients include a lovely mix of cranberries, pecans, orange zest, and cinnamon.

An interesting tidbit about cranberries — each cranberry has four interior chambers that hold pockets of air.

The air pockets allow the berries to float, a characteristic farmers use to their advantage when it comes time to harvest.

During the spring and summer, the berries grow in fields called bogs. In the fall, farmers flood the bogs and use a harvesting machine to dislodge the berries that then float to the surface. There is more to the story that can be found here.

In most recipes calling for cranberries, you can use fresh or frozen. I would not use dried cranberries which are sweetened and have lost much of their nutritional value in the process. For this batch of muffins, I used last year’s frozen berries because that is what I had on hand. When using frozen berries, do not defrost them before measuring or chopping. If you see a berry that is shriveled up, discard it.

I used self-rising flour. If you do not have any, substitute with 2 cups of regular flour, 3 teaspoons of baking powder, and ½ teaspoon of fine salt.

Yield: 12 small or 8 large muffins.

Ingredients:


1¼ cup whole cranberries
⅓ cup granulated sugar
½ cup pecan halves
zest from ½ half a medium orange

1 large egg
¾ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups (8½ oz.) self-rising flour, (measured using the spoon and level method)
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
⅓ cup sugar
⅓ cup butter, softened and sliced

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375º. Line muffin tin with paper liners or grease each muffin cup.

Place cranberries, ⅓ cup of sugar, pecans, and orange zest in a food processor. Pulse until all ingredients are rough-chopped. Be careful not to over-process.

Measure milk in a liquid measuring cup. Add egg and vanilla to the cup. Whisk ingredients together.

Place flour, cinnamon, and ⅓ cup sugar in a large mixing bowl. Whisk these dry ingredients together. Add butter slices. Using a wire pastry blender, combine ingredients until there are no more large clumps of butter. See photo below for guidance on what the texture should look like.

Gently stir in milk mixture until just blended. Fold in cranberry mixture. For a light and airy muffin, stir as little as possible.

Use a tablespoon or cookie scoop to fill the muffin cups. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon of sugar over each muffin to crisp up the top when baked. If making large muffins, use a whole teaspoon of sugar.

Bake for 20-25 minutes on the middle oven rack. Muffins are done when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. If you would like to brown the tops a little more, move tin to the upper oven rack and bake for 3 more minutes.

Thank you, Terry, for reminding me about these muffins! I’m glad to have the recipe at my fingertips, again.

Check out the Thanksgiving Menu for Tday dinner ideas.

Other Cranberry Recipes:
Mrs. Walker’s Cranberry Nut Pie
Hot Pepper Jelly or Cranberry Brie Bites
Grandma’s Cranberry Chutney
Sautéed Collards (or Swiss Chard), Toasted Pine Nuts and Cranberries
Roasted Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts, and Cranberries
Sorghum, Oats, and Cranberry Granola
Oats, Sorghum, Ginger and Cranberry Cookies

Always check my blog for the latest version of a recipe.

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© 2014-2019 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.

Mrs. Walker’s Cranberry Nut Pie

Sometimes it happens this way: you’re reading Facebook and you see a picture of a pie that looks just like what you and your mom used to make for dessert on Thanksgiving and Christmas days.

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You look more closely, and you realize the person who posted the photo, Erin McHugh, grew up in the same small town as you. She calls her pie, Cranberry Surprise Pie. You call yours, Mrs. Walker’s Cranberry Nut Pie.

I hadn’t spoken to Erin in forty years before seeing her post on Facebook that day. That is the beauty of Facebook — reconnecting with people. Seeing her post, made me nostalgic for the coastal community of Bay View where we all grew up, and for the cranberry pie. I dug out my recipe and a bag of cranberries from the freezer and baked it. I have been making it every year since.

I messaged Erin, “Hey, Erin, it’s Judy from Bay View. Mom and I used to make a cranberry pie that looked just like yours. Is that Mrs. Walker’s recipe?” Since we all grew up in the same neighborhood, I knew we had to be talking about the same pie.

Erin quickly sent me a link to her version of the pie. At first glance, her recipe looked very different from mine. The amounts of the ingredients were way off. However, it soon became apparent that Erin’s recipe, written for a 9-inch pie plate, was simply a doubled version of Mrs. Walker’s recipe written for a shallow 8-inch pie.

The other difference was Mrs. Walker’s recipe showed its age by calling for a combination of oleo and shortening where Erin’s recipe called for butter. Whenever you go through old recipes and see “oleo” in the ingredients, know that it is a shortened name for “oleomargarine” a solid form of vegetable oil (ole-ic acid). Originally, oleo was sold as a white spread and home cooks would mix in a capsule of yellow food coloring to make it look like butter. Please write a comment if you remember doing that. Consumers had to mix in the yellow color because dairy lobbyists insisted on keeping margarine white and butter yellow. Yellow margarine eventually won out in 1969. I’m guessing the switch from the common name of oleo to margarine occurred around the same time.

Since I’m traveling down Memory Lane, here are some old photos of our home in Bay View taken in 1964 before my grandfather renovated it and turned it into our year-round house. At the time, our cottage was known as “The Eye of Bay View” because the eye-shaped window on the second floor faced the entrance to this small, magical Monteagle-like summer community.

The house was built in 1894 by Ida Tripp, mother of Hazel Atkinson, who lived there with her husband and daughters, Ruth and Hope. Coincidently, and related to this story, Erin’s family was friends with the Atkinson family and Erin wrote a tender story about them and “Surprise Pie” in her book, One Good Deed. Here is the excerpt.

Here are photos of the house from the early 1900s.

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A few words about ingredients:

Cranberries: Before 1980, a recipe that called for “a bag of cranberries” implied a 16-ounce bag, not the 12-ounce bags you see now. In 1980, there was a shortage of cranberries and the Ocean Spray cranberry growers consortium decided to change to the smaller-sized package to help keep up with demand. When cooking with cranberries, figure that a little over a cup of berries equals 4 ounces, thus, a 12-ounce bag has about 3½ cups of berries.

Measuring flour: Don’t forget to spoon flour into the measuring cup and then use a knife to level the top off.

Thanksgiving 2014

Ingredients:
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Cranberry Filling:
12-ounce bag fresh cranberries (about 3½ cups),
½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
½ cup granulated sugar

Cake Batter:
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter, melted (1½ sticks)
1 cup all-purpose flour

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350º. Grease a 9-inch pie plate with butter.

Spread cranberries over the bottom of the pie plate and sprinkle with nuts.

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Add the ½ cup portion of sugar.
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Add eggs to mixing bowl and beat well. Add the 1 cup portion of sugar, the vanilla, butter, and flour and beat for another 30 seconds. Use a spatula to scrape the sides and base of the bowl and mix a few more seconds.
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Spoon batter over cranberry mixture. Use an icing knife to help spread the batter over the top.
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Bake for 45 minutes on the center rack of oven. Test center of pie with a knife. If there is still batter on the knife, set the timer for five more minutes and check for doneness again. Continue in this way until done.

I ended up having to use an “edge protector” after the pie had cooked for 35 minutes.
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Serve warm with freshly made whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
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Triple this recipe for a Crowd-Pleasing Dessert (24 people)

Filling: 9 cups fresh cranberries, 1½ cups chopped nuts, 1½ cups sugar. Spread cranberries and nuts over a greased bakers half baking sheet (13″ by 18″ by 1″). Sprinkle with sugar.
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Topping: 4½ sticks of melted butter, 3 cups sugar, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 6 eggs, and add 3 cups of flour last. Mix for 30 seconds until smooth. Use a stainless icing spatula to spread the batter over the cranberries starting in the center of the pan and moving outward. Don’t bring the batter all the way to the edges. Don’t want the batter to spill over the side of the pan as it cooks.
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Bake in a 350º oven for 45 minutes. Just made it — no batter dripped over the edge of the pan.
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While cake is still warm, use a 3-inch biscuit cutter to make disks for serving.
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Place each warm disk in the center of a plate and top with freshly made whipped cream or ice cream.
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I wrote a story about how cranberries are harvested that you can find here
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Favorite Thanksgiving Desserts
Pumpkin Bread Pudding (with caramel sauce and whipped cream on top!)
Mom’s Pumpkin Pie
Mom’s Apple Pie with a Cheddar Streusel Topping
Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie
Marion’s Crazy Good Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips

Thanksgiving Day Side Dishes We Love
Melissa’s Sweet Potato Casserole
Grandma’s Cranberry Chutney
Auntie Martha’s Spicy Spinach (aka Spinach Madeleine)
Roasted Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts, and Cranberries
Amazingly Delicious Sautéed Carrots

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© 2014-2018 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

Grandma’s Cranberry Chutney

My mother’s mother, Marion, was one of my heroes. She was beautiful, loving, a fabulous seamstress and knitter, a talented cook, and she called me, Darling. When I spent the night at her house, I awoke to the sound of her in the kitchen fixing breakfast and emptying the dishwasher; sounds that indicated all was well in the world. She would set the breakfast table with pink and white china, and in a matching shallow bowl, there would always be a sectioned grapefruit from my grandparents’ grove. It was one of the many ways she used food to express her love for us.

Holidays were her favorite time of the year to cook. So many of the traditional recipes our family shares come from her recipe stash, especially if cranberries or mangoes are involved. Her recipe for cranberry chutney is my all-time favorite.
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It is not Thanksgiving until I have prepared this layered-with-flavor, cranberry chutney made with cranberries, apples, pecans, celery, oranges, raisins, and ground ginger.
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Back when Grandma made it, a bag of cranberries weighed 16 ounces, not the 12 ounces you get today. A representative at Ocean Spray told me they went to 12 ounces in 1980 when there was a shortage of cranberries. This is good info to know if you are using a pre-1980 recipe that says to “add a bag of cranberries.”

Ingredients:
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1 pound fresh cranberries (4½-5 cups), discard any that are shriveled
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 cup orange juice
1 cup golden seedless raisins
1 cup chopped celery (4½ ounces or 3 stalks)
1 cup chopped apple, peeled (4 ounces or 1 medium)
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange peel
¾ teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup chopped pecans

Instructions:
Prep all the ingredients.
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Use a box grater or a Microplane to grate the orange. Be sure to wash the orange well first.
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Combine cranberries, sugar, water and orange juice. Listen for the sound of cranberries popping as they heat up and expand in the water. Stir occasionally to help dissolve the sugar. Once cranberries come to a boil, set a timer for 15 minutes and simmer over low heat.
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Remove the pot from heat. Stir in remaining ingredients and let sit until thickened.
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I can’t express how much I love the sweet and tart tastes in this recipe. Instead, I will show you all the tasting spoons I used to try the chutney while it was cooling down!
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Chill until ready to serve. This will last one week in the refrigerator.

I wrote a story about how cranberries are grown and harvested, here.
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Other Thanksgiving Day Side Dishes We Love:
Melissa’s Sweet Potato Casserole
Roasted Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts, and Cranberries
Amazingly Delicious Sautéed Carrots
Auntie Martha’s Spicy Spinach (aka Spinach Madeleine)

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Remember to always check this website for updated versions of a recipe.  

© 2014-2018 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.

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