As I have mentioned in the previous post, I used to associate Easter with an annual extravagant buffet luncheon with the family in Hong Kong. Now, after living in New York for years, I equate Easter with the parade of outrageous hats and relaxing breakfast/brunch with either just M or with friends. There’s something magical about a homemade brunch. No matter what the season or weather, the mood is always relaxed (once the cook is out of the kitchen).
Back in the days when my cooking skills were just adequate, the gatherings seemed to be more frequent. The act of getting together definitely trumped culinary execution. Now that food plays a more significant role, the focus on menu planning seems to take over the spontaneity of the social aspects.( It could also be the fact that I am getting lazy and just want to lounge around on Sunday morning.)
Even so, having the time to make something nice for myself and love ones is what I really enjoy. I realize I have not made muffins for quite a while. So for A special Easter weekend of relaxation and comfort, I will make these Orange Muffins studded with apricots. The fruit adds it’s own depth in addition to the citrus it’s absorbed from the orange juice. The fragrance of these sugar crusted Orange Muffins will evoke a sense of cozy comfort that is perfect for a Sunday morning.
Orange Muffins w Sugar Crust
recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
make 10-12 muffins
1/3 cup granulated sugar,
1 teaspoons orange zest, grated
3/4 cup dried apricots (5 ounces)
1/3 cup orange juice
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (5 ounces)
1/2 cup fine-ground, whole-grain yellow cornmeal (2-1/4 ounces)
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 large eggs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar (1 ounce)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), melted
6 tablespoons sour cream (3 ounces)
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoons orange zest, grated
1. In food processor, process 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 1 teaspoons grated orange zest until pale orange, about 10 seconds. Transfer to small bowl and set aside.
2. In food processor, pulse dried apricots for ten 2-second pulses, until chopped fine. Transfer to medium microwave-safe bowl; add orange juice to apricots, cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and microwave on high until simmering, about 1 minute. Let apricots stand, covered, until softened and plump, about 5 minutes. Strain apricots; discard juice.
3. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
4. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl to combine; set aside. Whisk eggs in second medium bowl until well combined and light-colored, about 20 seconds. Add granulated and dark brown sugar to eggs; whisk vigorously until thick and homogenous, about 30 seconds; add melted butter in 3 additions, whisking to combine after each addition. Add half the sour cream and half the milk and whisk to combine; whisk in remaining sour cream and milk until combined. Stir remaining orange zest and strained apricots into wet ingredients.
5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients; mix gently with rubber spatula until batter is just combined and evenly moistened. Do not over-mix. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, dropping it to form mound. Sprinkle a portion of orange sugar over each mound of batter. Do not level or flatten surface of mounds.
6. Bake until muffins are light golden brown and skewer inserted into center of muffins comes out clean, about 18 minutes, rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool muffins in tin 5 minutes; do not invert baked muffins; use a paring knife to lift muffins from tin one at a time and transfer to wire rack. Cool muffins 5 minutes longer; serve warm.