I want to start off with a disclaimer that the recipe for this post was only really a starting off point- to which I changed and made it my own. There have been a bunch of programs in place that provide residents here with different food items this lockdown. Everything from taco meat to sliced cheese to quinoa (what is this, an episode of Chopped?) have been given out at no cost. I tend to skip out on those items, but do take whatever produce they have to offer. As a result, I’ve ended up with a bunch of apples and oranges that I force myself to use before they go bad. You can see a couple of the apple-y things I’ve made from earlier posts, and so when I saw that the oranges were still just sitting there, I looked for different recipes that call for them. I didn’t really find anything that I wanted to make- I mean what’s the point of making something you don’t want to eat? One recipe that seemed like a good jumping off point was for Cranberry Orange Crunch Muffins from King Arthur Baking. I’m not the biggest fan of cranberries, and I don’t really think people around me are either. The combination, though good, seemed like it would pack a serious tart punch which I hoped I could mellow out by subbing the cranberries for coconut. And so began a short experiment.
The recipe starts off by mixing the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl. I know everyone has this idea to get into a kitchen and start throwing random quantities into a bowl to see what works, but really, start off with a recipe and go from there. I essentially wanted to keep the batter as is, but swap out the fillings- and adjust as I go. I replaced the dried cranberries with shredded sweetened coconut as some reviewers said the final muffins weren’t that sweet. Next, I whisked up the egg, oil, orange juice and orange zest in a separate bowl. A quick tip is that if you see your citrus is nearing the end of its life- be sure to zest and juice it, and then stick that in the fridge as it’ll buy you about another week before things get funky. I doubled the amount of zest I used because I really wanted the orange flavor to come through. If I say that something has orange- I want to taste the orange. I folded the wet mix into the dry until it was just combined with no dry streaks. The key to soft muffins is to not overmix. Now I know most muffin recipes call for them to be baked in just a greased pan, but I don’t roll that way. Cupcake liners make things so much easier to move around and really, they’re the best way to prevent your muffins from sticking. I do, however, spray the top of the pan just to make sure any muffin tops don’t stick. I portioned them out using a large ice cream scoop and ended up with 10 muffins in place of 12. Don’t bother trying to steal from the others in order to get a full dozen- because you’ll end up with puny and sad muffins- and no one wants that. Last came the topping, which I also took liberties with. I omitted the cinnamon because orange, coconut and cinnamon didn’t seem like they’d work together in terms of flavor. I also swapped out the brown sugar as well for the same reason, and went with raw sugar for a nice and crunchy top. I even threw in some more coconut in hopes it’d get nice and toasted. Then, the muffins get baked for about twenty minutes. Let them cool for just a few minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.
Overall, this experiment was a success. The orange and coconut flavors came through and tasted great together. I can’t say I know what cranberry and orange would taste like- but I bet I wouldn’t like it as much as these. The sweetened coconut and the raw sugar add just the right amount of sweetness, but really, you could simply add more sugar if that’s your thing. Typically with baking, you can add more sugar to a recipe, but it’s hard to take away as sugar contributes a great deal to the structure of batters and doughs. I’ve posted the full recipe below, but wanted to note some key changes I made. The one flaw with my swap is that coconut browns fairly easily in the oven. I ended up having to tent my muffins with foil because the coconut was toasted pretty early, but the muffins still had a good ten minutes left. I suggest dropping the temperature and keeping an eye on the tops with a sheet of foil ready. I actually made the recipe twice in order to use up all of the oranges, and found that the muffins stayed nice and soft even the next day. The tops weren’t as crunchy, but they still tasted great. If coconut and orange are right up your alley, then definitely give this a try. If not, take a cue from me and play around with a recipe to tailor it to your tastes. If it works, then great, but if it doesn’t…well that’s on you.
My Recipe for Orange Coconut Muffins:
Orange Coconut Muffins
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon Granulated Sugar
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
¾ cup Sweetened Shredded Coconut
1 Large Egg at room temperature
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil (or any neutral oil)
3/4 cup Milk at room temperature
1/4 cup Orange Juice (freshly squeezed from 1 Orange)
1 teaspoon Orange Zest (about 1 Orange)
1/4 cup Sweetened Shredded Coconut
1/4 cup Raw Sugar (or Granulated Sugar)
Preheat oven to 375.
Place 10 paper liners in a cupcake pan and spray the tops with non-stick spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and ½ cup coconut. In large bowl, whisk together the egg, oil, milk, orange juice and orange zest until cohesive. Add the dry into the wet and fold with a rubber spatula until just combined- do not overmix. Scoop into the liners with a large ice cream scoop (3 tablespoons)- batter makes 10 muffins. Mix the raw sugar and ¼ cup coconut in a small bowl and sprinkle on top of the muffins. Bake for a total of 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. After 10 minutes check the tops and tent with foil when the coconut is toasted to ensure it does not burn. Return to the oven to finish baking. Remove from the oven and let set for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Best served warm.
King Arthur Baking’s Recipe for Cranberry Orange Muffins: