Tender Cranberry Streusel Muffins


My mom says crafting was the best way she knew to keep her small tribe of highly active and often mischievous children occupied. 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 — when women these days are  still drinking cheap beer in college dorm rooms — and coped with the chaos by keeping us busy with projects: sewing and painting, knitting and woodworking, and everything imagineable in between  If ever you need tips on how to make a macrame mobile with string and seashells, craft an apple doll using hand-me-down clothing scraps, or build a dollhouse, all the furniture inside, and the family of mice dolls who live there, she’s your gal.

My Mom’s Cranberry Muffins

We also crafted in the kitchen, tackling highly skilled, multi-day projects such as gingerbread houses with candied window panes, and more ordinary ones, such as cookies and quickbreads. These Cranberry Streusel Muffins fall into the latter category; they were always a favorite. Made with an abundance of tangy cranberries and a generous streusel topping, they showed up as soon as the cranberries did each fall and were a fixture  in the kitchen through the holiday season.

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 petite 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.

Cranberry STreusel Muffins

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.

cranberry streusel muffins
5 from 1 vote
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Tender Cranberry Streusel Muffins

Cranberry muffins were a winter staple in my house growing up, always with cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top. Cranberries are a cold-weather fruit that add tang, color, and loads of antioxidants to this muffin. Fresh cranberries are ideal, but thawed frozen ones yield good results as well. You can also use unpeeled chopped apples or whole fresh blueberries instead, depending on the season.
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 40 mini or 12 standard muffins

Ingredients

Muffins

  • Oil for greasing muffin tins if not using paper liners
  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 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

Streusel Topping

  • 3 tablespoons rolled oats (not quick oats)
  • 3 tablespoons packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon cold butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease 12 standard or 40 mini muffin cups with oil or line with paper liners. Set aside.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole-wheat pastry flour, oat flour, flax meal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!).
  5. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling them about 3/4 full.

  6. To make the streusel topping, in a small bowl, stir together the oats, brown sugar, walnuts, and cinnamon. 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.

  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Recipe Notes

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)

Comments

11.21.2014 at7:52 AM #

Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine

This is a beautiful remake of the original l’m sure 🙂

11.21.2014 at7:52 AM #

katiemorford

Thanks Rebecca!

11.21.2014 at9:25 AM #

Nancy Granada

wow…beautiful and they look so yummy! Perfect Thanksgiving morning breakfast! 🙂

11.21.2014 at9:25 AM #

katiemorford

Yes, just right for Thanksgiving breakfast!

11.21.2014 at2:05 PM #

genevieve @ gratitude & greens

These muffins look delicious! I’m sure your children will really appreciate the food memories you are creating for them now 🙂

11.21.2014 at2:05 PM #

katiemorford

I sure hope so, Genevieve.

11.21.2014 at3:24 PM #

Karli

Omg those look amazing! Pinning!

11.21.2014 at3:24 PM #

katiemorford

Thanks Karli.

11.21.2014 at4:34 PM #

Amanda @ The Wholesome Dish

These sound amazing! I love the idea of oats & walnuts in the streusel topping!

11.21.2014 at4:34 PM #

katiemorford

Kind of the best part, that streusel topping (and the cranberries, of course)

11.21.2014 at6:18 PM #

deborah

Do you think this would work as a quick bread instead of muffins?

11.21.2014 at6:18 PM #

katiemorford

Hi Deborah, I can never say with total confidence until I try something, however, my guess is that it would. Let me know if you try it and how it goes.

11.21.2014 at11:55 PM #

jill conyers

Great redux on a traditional favorite. I’m sure there’s a way to make it gluten free.

11.21.2014 at11:55 PM #

katiemorford

I imagine you would have some good ideas for a gluten-free version 🙂

11.22.2014 at11:05 AM #

rachel

im in love with all things cranberry! yum!

11.22.2014 at6:00 PM #

Kelly // The Pretty Bee: Cooking & Creating

These look wonderful for the holidays! Yum!

12.12.2020 at10:13 AM #

Victoria Tyra

Sounds like the perfect breakfast muffin on this soggy December morning. Thank you, Katie. Your storytelling is phenomenal….you are quite talented! 🙌🙌

12.12.2020 at10:13 AM #

katiemorford

Ah…thank you! Hope you like the muffins 🙂

01.15.2021 at7:33 AM #

Susan V.

Delicious! I just made these for the second time this morning, using up the last of the leftover holiday cranberries hanging around in the fridge, which makes me very happy. The first time I made these, to my dismay, I found the cranberries still on the counter right after I popped the muffins in the oven. No problem, I quickly pulled them out and my daughter helped me push the cranberries into each muffin, then back in the oven. They still turned out great!

01.15.2021 at7:33 AM #

katiemorford

Cute story…and I’ve definitely done similar myself. Glad you like the muffins!

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