This time of the year is filled with bittersweet endings and fresh beginnings. Spring’s welcomed climate melts away in to the stifling heat of summer. Semesters draw to a close, with students everywhere breathing a sigh of relief. The days and nights become longer, stretching on for hours, leaving room for one too many drinks and never enough laughs. Graduates say goodbye to the safety of college and unknowingly step in to the “real” world, where pension plans, 401Ks, vacation time, consume their thoughts.
This past weekend was filled with graduation parties, family gatherings, nights out at random clubs, and frenzied mornings. I spent the whole weekend congratulating and celebrating my friends’ graduation. All three of them are finally done with college, and to say I am jealous would be an understatement. Even though I won’t graduate until this December, I can’t help but be a little nervous for my friends. Big changes are a-coming, and they are coming fast. All of a sudden, you are thrown out in to the big bad world to fend for yourself, leaving your folks behind in the dust. While it can be intimidating, I think this time of year is also exhilarating. That’s the best part about endings- there is always the promise of hopeful beginnings.
I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to participate in this weeks Tuesday’s With Dorie, especially since Madam Chow choose this week’s pick, Pecan Honey Sticky Buns. Without a stand mixer, I’d be looking at a good amount of time in the kitchen, which has sadly been deserted these past weeks. Luckily, I decided to choose a past TWD pick, Orange Berry Muffins, thinking they’d be a snap to make.
Well, assumptions can be deceiving. These little babies took up way more time then I thought. The prep work requires too many steps, at least for when who was crunched for time. Not to mention that I had to omit the buttermilk due to lack of funds/time/etc. With a sweet name like Orange Berry Muffins, I had high hopes for them. I pictured soft, light orange muffins studded with patches of strawberry jam that I used. Instead, I had rather bland muffins that didn’t last past a day.
The reason why I am posting this recipe is that I think that I should be blamed for the end result, not the recipe. I’m sure the recipe works, especially if others have had success, but I probably rushed through the steps. Also, substituting sour cream for the buttermilk is not recommended, as you need the tang and tart buttermilk to counterbalance the orange. Lisa over at Pittsburgh Needs Eated baked these muffins and they look utterly delicious, while Eat Me, Delicious also had success with the recipe.
Even though the muffins didn’t meet my expectations, my friends enjoyed them. After a late night partying, these muffins were devoured in a foggy daze stemming for a lack of sleep and too many drinks. They worked as a nice refueling breakfast, or lunch, depending on the hour and your appetite. They go even better on a lazy morning with your cup of coffee, when your once sunny skies have darkened and the sounds of Radiohead float into your bedroom. I can’t stomach the thought of toasting my friends with another glass of champagne, but I will gladly raise my half-eaten muffin in their honor. Congratulations everyone! Head on over here to see how the other bakers fared with the Pecan Honey Sticky Buns.
Orange Berry Muffins
from Baking: from my home to yours
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
About 3/4 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons honey
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup blueberries – fresh, preferably, or frozen (not thawed) In lieu of berries, I used 1/4 cup of strawberry preserves.
Decorating sugar, for topping (optional)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Alternatively, use a silicone muffin pan, which needs neither greasing nor paper cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.
Pour the orange juice into a large glass measuring cup or a bowl and pour in enough buttermilk to make 1 cup. Whisk in the eggs, honey and melted butter.
In a large bowl, rub the sugar and orange zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of orange strong. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough – the batter will be lumpy and bubbly, and that’s just the way it should be. Stir in the blueberries. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.
Bake for 22 to 25 minutes. If you want to top the muffins with decorating sugar, sprinkle on the sugar after the muffins have baked for 10 minutes. When fully baked, the tops of the muffins will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins will come out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.