January 7, 2012 § 9 Comments
Every year around this time I try to take stock of what I have, in order to better control the constant flow of clutter, and foodstuffs are sadly part of this clear-out. Despite my best intentions to run a lean, mean kitchen, I always end up with scattered ingredients that deserve to be eaten; this year’s strange standout is currants, purchased because…well, I can’t recall why. Typical!
Anyway, the currants lingered for the better part of the summer into the fall, and finally their orange box transformed from cheerful harbinger of cozy baked goods to caution-sign warning glare. The orange box did provide some inspiration to accompany its glower; currants go charmingly with citrus, in particular clementines.
Here the currants, which remind me of less-tart cranberries flirting with the stickiness of golden raisins, soak up citrus juices to then plump up in the muffins, little garnet specks complementing the gilded flecks of zest, and offering tart counterpoint to the crystallized frost of sugar on top.
These muffins are a quick, easy way to inject some cheer into what can otherwise be a quite dreary time, especially after the holidays have passed; while they bake the air is intoxicating with an almost aggressive brightness, and when they’re done, the muffins themselves are pillowy and soft, with a tender crumb.
And of course in the interest of using up, I accompanied my inaugural muffin of 2012 with some clementine slices. Waste not, want not!
Adapted from my mom’s blueberry muffins
Makes a muffin or two short of two dozen, although some cups were over-filled for me (oops)
- One tablespoon clementine zest (from three decently-sized clementines)
- 1/2 cup dried currants
- Three tablespoons orange (or clementine) juice
- Three cups all-purpose flour
- One cup sugar
- Two and a half teaspoons baking powder
- One teaspoon sea salt
- Two eggs, beaten
- One cup milk (skim works fine)
- 2/3 cups canola (or other vegetable) oil
- Additional 1/4 cup sugar, for topping
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two muffin tins with paper muffin liners, or grease the pan lightly to prevent sticking.
2. Zest clementines into a small dish. In a different small dish, soak the currants in either the juice from one clementine, or alternatively in already-squeezed orange juice (about three tablespoons).
3. Next, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt), and then add in the wet ingredients (eggs, milk, oil). Gently fold in the zest and currants (and their soaking juice), being sure to not over-mix; a few small lumps of flour are acceptable. Ladle the batter into the muffin cups, to about 2/3 full for a decently domed muffin.
3. Sprinkle filled muffin batter cups with the 1/4 cup of remaining sugar. Bake for twenty to twenty-five minutes, or until a tester comes out clean and the tops are puffed and golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes, and enjoy!
Note: Muffins keep for a few days stored in a closed plastic bag or storage tin, though the tops won’t be quite as crunchy. Reheating in a toaster oven can crisp them up a bit, though it’s not crucial. Alternatively, once the muffins are thoroughly cooled, place in a freezer bag or box and freeze until needed, toasting to warm them through.