filling the empty nest with food
Luckily for us, sunshine doesn’t abandon us here in the upper Midwest during January, but it is considerably weaker than in, say, the Sunshine State. I know I date myself by remembering Anita Bryant’s orange juice commercials of the ’60s where she sings about the Florida Sunshine tree and gets orange juice directly from the oranges on the tree. That juice flowing so easily right out of the orange was too good to be true–just like Anita Bryant’s wholesomeness. Some of us may also remember the pie that got thrown in her face during her anti-gay rights crusade a few years later. Oranges and orange juice, fortunately, were not taken down along with Bryant.
I bring some Florida warmth into my cold January kitchen with an orange muffin recipe I’ve kept from a 1984 issue of Gourmet magazine. I find most bakery muffins too sugary and too full of stuff that in my book belongs in desserts. These orange muffins, on the other hand, are just a tad sweet and packed full of everything delicious and edible you can get out of an orange–the fruit segments, the juice and the zest. They’re a perfect complement to a hot coffee on a wintry morning. And easy enough to mix up while your coffee brews and you queue up the 1977 pie incident on Youtube.
This orange muffin recipe is adapted slightly from a Maidstone Hotel recipe (formerly the Maidstone Arms). I have never been to this inn or their restaurant–in East Hampton, New York–but I hope the muffins are still on the menu. They’re a keeper. Unlike other parts of our cultural history.
Orange Muffins (adapted from the Maidstone Arms recipe via Gourmet magazine, May 1984)
1 whole orange
1/3 cup orange juice
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg (best if at room temperature)
1/2 cup raisins
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar (I only use 1/2 cup; it seems plenty)
1 tsp double-acting baking powder (which is what most baking powders are)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
Grate the rind from the orange, reserving it, discard the pith, and quarter and seed the orange. In a blender (or food processor) blend the reserved orange rind, orange quarters, orange juice, butter, and the egg. Add the raisins, blend the mixture for 5 seconds, and transfer it to a bowl. Into another bowl sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir the dry mixture into the orange mixture, and stir the batter until it is just combined. Divide the batter among 12-16 buttered and floured 1/3 cup muffin tins. Bake the muffins in a preheated 400-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are golden, and turn them out onto a rack. Makes 12-16 muffins.