I’ll admit it…This recipe took two tries.
In fact I wouldn’t even call today’s post the same recipe. By eliminating orange juice from the original recipe, and adding maraschino cherry juice, along with consulting with my well worn copy of Joy of Cooking¹, I think you will agree that I turned this muffin fail into a muffin marvel!
Let’s take a look at these DIY improvements that can be used as a reference for future muffins:
The original recipe only had 2 Tablespoons of oil. According to the Joy of Cooking¹, a muffin that has 4 Tablespoons or less of butter or oil needs to be consumed quickly. If it will be some time before they are eaten, it is best to have at least 1/2 of cup. Since this contributes to the moisture of these muffins, and since I live in an extremely dry climate (humidity averages 16%), I chose to use a full 1/2 cup in this recipe.
The original recipe called for the oven to be at 400°. This is a standard temperature to bake muffins, but since my oven runs hot, I usually shorten my baking time to account for it. This didn’t work. I brought my muffins out halfway through baking because the streusel topping was being burned to a blackened crisp where it fell onto the pan, and alongside the paper line. The muffins also ended up misshapen due to the high heat. So, for this recipe I lowered the temperature a whole 50°. The streusel turned out perfectly, and the muffins mushroomed as they should.
The ratio of 2 cups dry ingredients to 1 cup liquid served me well in this recipe. In the original I used only 2/3 cup orange juice…not enough. The flavor didn’t end up shining through as desired and the batter was thick. For this recipe I decided to make use of delicious maraschino cherry juice. This really boosts the flavor and moisture of the muffin, and since the juice is already sweet, I used a little less sugar to balance the sweetness.
Mixing the INGREDIENTS
This is a case where the correct terminology makes an important difference. In the original recipe, when combining the wet and dry ingredients, it says to “beat vigorously for 30 seconds”. While I knew better than to actually pull out my beaters and beat the batter, I did stir it with a wooden spoon for the full 30 seconds. The result was a batter that was pourable like a ribbon. This was incorrect because the gluten was overworked and caused the muffins to become coarse. For this recipe, I made sure to stir just until combined. It is important to be gentle, and allow there to be bubbles, and even a small amount of dry ingredients visible in the batter.
Finally, in the original cherry blossom muffin recipe I place chopped cherries into the batter. To me this didn’t symbolize blossoming at all, so instead I placed a half cherry hidden inside the muffin, so when eaten it epitomizes a blossoming cherry in your mouth!