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Joy of baking

Winter muffins

(George Boomer for The Boston Globe)
December 30, 2009

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Makes 12

Every household should have a dependable formula for simple muffins to make on a chilly winter morning. Scent them with orange rind and juice and stud them with dried cherries. These fruity-sweet, cinnamon-topped muffins, made with melted butter, can be assembled very quickly if you measure the ingredients the night before. Remember the old rule-of-thumb when combining wet and dry ingredients: a lumpy batter makes light muffins. Have enough extra soft sweet butter on hand to spread some on the little domed cakes when they emerge hot from the oven. Orange marmalade, to underscore the fresh orange rind in the batter, is good, too. Put on the coffee and pour the milk. Then sit back and see if someone else will cook for the rest of the day.

Butter (for the pan)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup light brown sugar
Juice of 2 small navel oranges
Grated rind of 1 navel orange
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
1 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons granulated sugar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Butter a 12-cup muffin pan. 2. In large bowl, combine the all-purpose and whole wheat flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to blend them. Stir in the brown sugar. 3. In 4-cup measuring cup, combine the orange juice and rind. Pour in enough of the milk to reach the 1 1/2 cup mark. Add the butter and eggs. With a fork, beat to combine them.

4. Using a wooden spoon, stir the orange juice mixture into the flour mixture using a few quick strokes. They should be just combined. Gently fold in dried cherries. 5. With a soup spoon, divide the batter among the 12 muffins cups. Sprinkle with the sugar-cinnamon mixture.

6. Bake muffins for 20 minutes until firm to the touch and lightly golden on top. Allison Boomer