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Cranberry Pecan Muffin

Toasting pecans deepens their flavor.  Just put them on a baking sheet and pop them into the preheating oven for about 5 minutes until they become fragrant, then cool and chop.  Be careful not to burn the nuts.  Chopping cranberries can be a chore because their rounded surfaces make them want to roll all over the place.  A food processor will make quick work of the task—just 4 quick pulses—but then you have something extra to wash.  But if you use the processor for 5 seconds to combine the dry ingredients first, you get double duty out of the machine.  Just dump the dry onto waxed paper and you save yourself a bowl to wash.  No need to clean the food processor work bowl before adding the cranberries.
Course Breakfast
Servings 12 large muffins

Equipment

  • An ice cream scoop (1/3 cup capacity) is a great tool for dividing muffin batter. 
  • I’ve recently discovered a new non-stick muffin pan—the USA pan—that really is non-stick and turns out muffins that brown beautifully all around their sides and bottoms. The 12-cup pan is a “standard” size, meaning each cup measures 2 ¾ inches across and is 1 1/8 inches deep.

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour Measured by dipping dry measure into flour container, filling to overflowing, and sweeping off excess with a straight edge, or 10 oz weighed
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick) softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 large orange zested
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk shake before measuring
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh cranberries (6 ounces), chopped
  • 1/2 cup pecans (2 ounces), toasted and chopped

Instructions
 

  • Adjust an oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Have ready a 12-cup standard-size non-stick muffin pan and a can of cooking spray. Don’t spray the muffin cups just yet.
  • Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a food processor for 5 seconds. Empty the work bowl, reinsert the metal blade, and add the cranberries. Pulse 4 times to chop the cranberries medium-fine. Leave the cranberries in the work bowl until needed.
  • In a medium size bowl, use a hand-held electric mixer to cream the butter until smooth. Add the ¾ cup sugar and vanilla and beat well on medium speed for 3 to 4 minutes. Stop to scrape the bowl occasionally. This is the aeration step where you create the bubbles. Baking powder and heat will cause them to expand in the oven.
  • Add the egg and egg yolk.
  • Beat the egg and egg yolk in well, then beat in the orange zest.
  • Stir together the buttermilk and heavy cream in a 1-cup glass measure.
  • On lowest speed, mix in about one-third of the dry ingredients, then half the liquid, beating only until incorporated. Repeat with the remaining dry ingredients and liquid, ending with the dry. The batter will be thick.
  • Add the cranberries and pecans and fold them in.
  • Lightly coat each muffin cup with cooking spray.
  • Divide into muffin cups with an ice cream scoop or two soup spoons. Sprinkle top of each muffin with about ½ teaspoon sugar.
  • Bake muffins about 18 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges and they spring back when gently pressed in the center. Cool the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes, then carefully lift them out of their cups and arrange them in a napkin-lined basket.
  • Serve warm with butter.
  • To reheat, wrap loosely in foil and pop into a preheated 300 degree oven for about 5 minutes.