I have mixed feelings about Thanksgiving. On the one hand, I absolutely love the idea of spending two days straight in the kitchen, cooking this and cooking that. I prep and prepare days in advance, carefully preparing my menu and trying to please every tastebud in my household. I try new recipes, make the standards, and I'm always looking to tweak what we've been eating for years.
On the other hand, I look toward Thanksgiving with a bit of dread and drain. I'm exhausted even thinking about everything that needs to be done and prepped. That menu list I mentioned? It's the bane of my existence because it means writing out a sometimes two-page grocery list. In turn, this means a very, very long trip to the grocery store with a bunch of other irritated shoppers. The aisles are full and you can't find what you need. There is always that one kid who is a danger to mankind with his or her reckless driving of a cart he or she can't see over. Then, you get to the end of the store only to realize you forgot that bunch of parsley or an endive or, for the love of humanity, that bag of cranberries all the way back in the produce section. Finally, you get to stand in a very long line thinking of everything that needs to be done when you get home.
Then, Thanksgiving morning arrives. My family knows me well enough to know to leave me the heck alone on Thanksgiving morning. Do not DARE ask me what's for breakfast. Do not DARE ask me what I am making for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning. My mind is already on lunch, late lunch, or dinner. That's another one: do not DARE ask me what time we are sitting down to eat our Thanksgiving meal. You will get it when it's done, cooked, and served. That's when!
Ahhh...don't worry. I'm not that mean. Most of those thoughts reside in my head, not to mention the grit of my teeth. I push back my anxiety and angst and push forward with every question, effusing the mood with an attitude of gratitude.
Yeah, right! Cue the family laughter now.
One thing I have learned over the years is Thanksgiving is not just the big meal you eat with the turkey and dressing and all of the fixins'. It begins as soon as you wake up. The truth is you do have to figure out what to feed those hungry birds who gather round salivating over the idea of pies and cream at the end of the day. They wake up with food on the brain. So, what would be better in the spirit of the season than to have ready-made cranberry muffins to hold them over?
Muffins, in general, are the perfect food to have ready for consumption when your family and guests wake up. Cranberries, in particular, are seasonal right now and they aren't just for garnishing your stuffing or dressing. Fresh cranberries are a delight to tender, sweet muffins. They are tart and go pop in your mouth, contrasting nicely with the sweetness of the muffin. Add a little orange zest, honey, and a few intoxicating spices and you will begin your Thanksgiving morning on a bright note, already getting accolades for your culinary prowess in the kitchen. Give thanks because maybe now everyone will leave you in peace... for at least the next hour.
1. These muffins can be made ahead of time and frozen in a container. Simply thaw out overnight or for an hour before serving.
2. I made two batches of this recipe. One uses only all-purpose flour and yields a fluffier muffin that is more cake-like. The other batch used 3/4 cup whole wheat flour and 3/4 all-purpose flour. It yields a more dense muffin with a slightly nutty taste.
You can see the difference in the two flours here:
All-purpose flour only
Combination of whole wheat and all-purpose flour
Honey-sweetened muffins with a hint of orange and the pop of tart, fresh cranberries. The perfect breakfast item for Thanksgiving morning.
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Zest from one orange
- 7 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup honey, any variety
- 1/2 cup fresh cranberries, halved
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
2. Combine all of your dry ingredients: flours, baking powder, baking soda, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Add the orange zest. Stir to combine all of your dry ingredients. Set aside.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the melted butter and sugar together. Add in the egg, beating until the yolk disappears. Add in the milk and honey. Beat until you have a creamy mixture and the graininess of the sugar has disappeared.
4. With the mixer on the slowest speed, slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix just until the flour disappears. Do not overmix.
5. Fold in the halved cranberries. Fill the muffin tins 3/4 of the way full. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
Note: Muffins can be baked ahead of time and frozen in an air-tight container up to a week beforehand.