Whole-Grain Cranberry Streusel Muffins
My mom says crafting was the best way she knew to keep me and my siblings occupied when we were little. She had three of us in rapid succession, with no car or spare income, a husband who worked long hours, and more than her fair share of parental heartache. She launched into motherhood young, energetic, and naive, coping with the chaos by keeping us busy with projects: sewing and painting, knitting and woodworking, cooking and baking. If ever you need tips on how to make a macrame mobile with string and seashells or build a dollhouse from scratch, she’s your gal. My mom also leaned heavily on kitchen crafts to keep us busy. These Whole-Grain Cranberry Streusel Muffins were a winter favorite.
Tender Muffins with a Streusel Top
My mom would pull out her cranberry muffin recipe each fall as soon as the fruit came into season. The muffins are made with an abundance of tangy cranberries and a generous streusel topping. As a child, I felt a particular affinity for cooking with cranberries since we lived in Massachusetts, a state responsible for about half the country’s production of this ruby fruit. My family had nothing at all to do with farming, but the fact that we had cranberry bogs in our very own town gave me a peculiar sort of pride. Perhaps Vermonters feel this way about maple syrup or Georgians about peanuts. Regardless, I’ve always felt close to the cranberry, and so when it came time to develop recipes for my cookbook, I was determined to show them off.
A Wholesome Cranberry Muffin
Turning to my mom’s cranberry muffins for inspiration seemed exactly right, but sadly, the recipe had gone the way of so much childhood memorabilia, lost to the era in which it had thrived. And so, I developed my own, trying to mimic as best I could remember, the original. My mom didn’t use whole grain flour in hers, and my guess is that she was more generous with the butter and sugar, but to me, the result tastes the same. It is tasty and tender, with puckery nuggets of cranberry in every bite. I’ll make them through the fall, and maybe into next year, hopefully creating the same sort of food memories for my own children as my mother did for me.
If you like these Whole-Grain Cranberry Streusel Muffins, check out:
Tender Cranberry Streusel Muffins
- Oil for greasing muffin tins if not using paper liners
- 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (or white whole-wheat or all-purpose)
- 1 cup oat flour (see Notes)
- 2 tablespoons flax meal
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup fresh orange juice (the juice from about 1 large orange)
- Zest from 1/2 large orange
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries (roughly chop 1 cup)
- 3 tablespoons rolled oats
- 3 tablespoons packed light or dark brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons chopped walnuts
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon cold butter
- pinch salt
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease 12 standard or 40 mini muffin cups with oil or line with paper liners. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole-wheat pastry flour, oat flour, flax meal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In another medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, orange juice, orange zest, and granulated sugar until smooth. Slowly drizzle in the butter, whisking constantly, until it is fully incorporated.
Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, using a rubber spatula to gently stir them together until just combined. Add the cranberries, stirring with as few strokes as possible. If you stir the batter too much, it will result in tougher muffins (we want tough kids, not tough muffins!).
Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling them about 3/4 full.
To make the streusel topping, in a small bowl, stir together the oats, brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, and salt. Break the butter into little bits and use your hands to work it into the oat/sugar mixture. Sprinkle it over the muffins, dividing it evenly.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 12 to 15 minutes for mini muffins, 20 to 25 minutes for regular muffins.
Leave muffins in the tins until cool enough to handle, then use a little knife to dislodge them and continue to cool on the counter. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the pantry or 1 month in the freezer.
Note: If you don’t have oat flour in your pantry, you can make it by pulverizing 1 scant cup of rolled or quick oats in a blender. It should yield 1 cup oat flour.
Reprinted from Best Lunch Box Ever by Katie Sullivan Morford, Chronicle Books (2013)