These muffins–and muffins they be– are not an excuse to eat cake for breakfast. Not too sweet and with a pebbly-crunchy mouthfeel, they still hold a holiday-ishly decadent pizzaz with the very best bittersweet chocolate baked right into the bottom of the muffin. You can also add it at the top if a frosting effect is more to your liking (see Cook’s Notes), but I do very much like the little secret chocolate that’s perfectly hidden until you take your first bite. If you’ve been roaring on about trying not to eat all those goodies this month (waa, waa, waa), take heart; read on…
|“Get Mother to help.”|
As my family well knows, there comes a day in November (December is just too late) when I do nothing but bake cranberry bread. We have it for Thanksgiving morning breakfast, take a loaf or two to friends, and then have one squirreled away in the freezer for Christmas morning as well. I make a fun production out of the day (no other activities, favorite music on, microwaved lunch) and have nearly an assembly line in the kitchen so that loaf after loaf is mixed individually and baked on the center rack. It does require a number of pans, but I’m good at finding extras at Good Will or splurging on a great pan with a Williams-Sonoma gift card. I also bake this bread in coffee cups
for large size muffins or in tiny pans as little gifts for special folks.
|Apilco (French porcelain)–all their tableware is oven-safe.
Here’s what the production line entails:
|Grease and flour all the pans|
|Finely chop all of the cranberries (fresh or frozen) at once by hand or in food processor. Then: clean the food processor or board well; the red will color the bread you’ll mix or stain the board.|
|Peel the oranges and chop finely all of the peel in the food processor or by hand on the board.
Of course you can grate it using a rasp or metal grater, but I think it’s too fine that way.
|Set your system for GO! Everything you need is out. (Mise en place)|
about the recipe
The recipe is based on one from CRANBERRY THANKSGIVING by Wendy and Harry Devlin. Reading this book and making the bread is a fun, yearly Thanksgiving activity…..
to which children love becoming addicted. (Also adults like me. My kids are long gone and you see what I’m up to.) The story involves a fabulous cranberry bread recipe, for years kept secret, and an unscrupulous special someone who appears to want to steal it. Of course, all’s well that ends well, and the Devlins went on to write all kinds of other books about cranberries…. The book itself is again available (was out of print), but I found a couple of first edition copies at the Good Will this fall for $1.99. I can’t locate it as an ebook; maybe you can. The library will definitely have copies, but check yours out early and write down the recipe!
While I occasionally make a loaf with or without nuts, add a few tiny chocolate chips, or combine the recipe with one for bananas or apples, generally I make this bread with just cranberries.
The other day when I was buying the ingredients, the clerk asked if I was making cranberry bread–to which I replied a large, strong, hefty, happy, YES! She wanted my recipe and today I took it up to the market and left it in an envelope with her name on it:
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Involving the Kids: Just do it! Don’t worry about the mess or how much time it takes. Just do it!
Little ones are great at collecting ingredients, greasing and flouring pans, measuring, mixing, and checking to see if the bread is done. Do the chopping yourself (if you’re doing it by hand) unless your older child already has good knife skills. Cranberries are not easy to chop–they keep rolling around, though the job isn’t terribly time consuming. If you have a food processor or manual chopper, this is the time to use it.
If you’d like to teach “Over the River and Through the Woods,” let them watch this youtube video.
Sing a new song; make lots of cranberry bread,