Mini-muffins are perfect for large groups. They’re easy to pick up, and easy to eat in a bite or two, making them perfect for things like coffee hour. But, you say, aren’t they a lot of trouble? Well, they can be, unless you know the secret for mini-muffins, then they’re a snap. Really.
We made up these mini-muffins for coffee/social hour at church (along with a few other things), and, for that, we had to double the batch size. Which means that we baked up about 150 mini-muffins, and, as we said, it’s pretty easy, provided you use a pastry bag and pipe the batter. You can load the mini-muffin pans with papers, then follow along with the piping bag, and, in under 5 minutes, fill about 60 mini-muffin cups. Then it’s into the oven for 20 minutes, and done.
Oh, this is a modification of the recipe that’s on the back of the Ocean Spray cranberry bags. We substituted buttermilk and candied orange peel for orange juice in the original version. The original version suggested baking this in a greased and floured 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Same temperature, but for about an hour.
We, being dedicated scratchers, make our own buttermilk. Why? It’s easy, and we, not someone in some dairy, control the ingredients, so we can have organic buttermilk, no added salt, no added carrageenan (seaweed), just as we think is best. We also made our own candied orange peel, or, perhaps we should say that we had some from when we last made them. Also easy, plus, we can be sure they’re made from pesticide-free orange peels. For the vegetable oil, we use canola, but any light, neutral oil will be fine. Eggs, we get ours from free-range hens. They’re just better-tasting eggs.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line mini-muffin pans with paper cups.
Chop cranberries. We knew we were going to be piping the muffin batter, so we had to make sure that the cranberries would be uniformly small. That meant we’d break out the food processor. But, before that, we rinsed the cranberries in a colander, then popped them into the bowl of our food processor. A few pulses, a scraping down of the sides of the bowl, another pulse or two, and our cranberry pieces were less than a 1/4 inch in size so they’d fit through the piping bag. Once chopped, set aside the cranberries. Of course, you can also use a sharp knife or kitchen shears.
Chop nuts and orange peel. No need to clean out the bowl of the food processor; just place the nuts in the bowl along with the candied orange peel, and pulse away, until they’re chopped to about the size of the cranberry pieces. Set these aside, too.
Whisk dry ingredients. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. You want to make sure that the mixture is uniform, preventing that dreaded pocket of baking soda in a muffin. If that happens, people will always remember your muffins, but not for reasons that you want.
Add liquid ingredients. Stir in the buttermilk, vegetable oil, and egg until uniform and batter-like.
Stir in cranberries and nuts. Add the chopped cranberries and nuts, and stir to combine. Most likely your batter will turn a nice shade of pink from the cranberries. Ours did.
Transfer to a piping bag. We use disposable bags that we get in rolls of 100. And, for things such as this, we just snip off the tip; no need to insert a piping tip. They’re so handy that we don’t know how we did without. If you don’t have disposable bags, you can use a non-disposable bag, or even a gallon zipper-type freezer bag with the corner cut off. Whatever you use, transfer the batter into it. We like to set the bag in a 2-cup measuring cup while we fill it.
Pipe batter. Pipe. Pipe. Pipe. You have a lot of cups to fill, but it’ll go fast, so start piping the cups about halfway full. If you need to stop partway through, simply squeeze batter out of the tip, and fold it over.
Bake. Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through. When done, a skewer inserted into the middle of a muffin will come out clean.
Cool. Let the muffins cool completely before packing into an airtight container.