These muffins are a baker’s dream. More precisely, they are a non-baker’s dream. There is no creaming of butter, no fancy stunts, not even any zesting of oranges–which you’d think you’d need to get the deep, delicious orange flavor. In fact, you just measure and pour and mix, and the muffins come together pretty much in the time it takes for your boyfriend to shower, or your house guests to get it together and wake up. A bonus is that the muffins are wonderfully fragrant with citrus, and they fill the apartment with their scent.
It’s occurred to me in the past that a plain jane muffin would be delightfully spruced up and flavored by the addition of raspberry jam in the batter. But the thought of serving pink-ish muffins sort of freaked me out. Pink batter is pretty, but you never really know what shade it’ll turn in the oven.
Add that to my regular constraints when cooking for Alex: milk is out. Almond milk tends to make a fine substitute, and I use it in pancakes and coffee cakes. But, like pink batter, its nature is a little nebulous, not totally reliable. Knowing that orange juice is the intending liquid in these muffins is reassuring.
The last ingredient of note, of course, is the marmalade. Let it be known: I hate marmalade. I like my jam sweet, not tangy, and least of all bitter. In some ways, it’s less hatred than bewilderment. But I’ll let that be. The point is, in these muffins, the marmalade works flavor and texture magic, bringing with it an essential citrusiness and an impeccable moisture. Normally to get this kind of flavor you’d have to destroy your knuckles zesting oranges on the finest side of your grater (which is perhaps not perfectly suited to the purpose). And to get this kind of moisture, you would have needed sour cream in the ingredients. But as I said before, with the marmalade, there’s no zesting, no sour cream. Brilliant.
I envision these muffins being served at all the important springy events: first brunches and picnics, Mother’s Day, Easter, and even Derby Day, alongside a mint julep.
From my kitchen, using magic baking ingredients, to yours,
Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Orange Marmalade Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
2 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup orange juice
½ cup safflower oil (or other neutral oil)
1/4 cup orange marmalade
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place liners in 12 muffin cups, or grease them well.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a larger mixing bowl, whisk together the orange juice, oil, eggs, and marmalade.
Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients, and fold to combine–it’s fine to leave a few lumps.
Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 full, and top each with some walnuts if you’re using them.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the muffins have risen, and they spring back when you put slight pressure on them. Test with a toothpick in the center of the muffin; if it comes out dry, it’s done.
Serve warm if possible. These muffins are best the day they are made.