Cranberry Sauce Muffins: Test 1

After your Thanksgiving celebrations are done, the turkey eaten, the pants unbuttoned, the last bit of leftovers is always the cranberry sauce. What to do with this food now? Who will keep the sauce from going bad? I present you with a wonderful solution! Muffins!!
Cook Time22 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Print Recipe
Yield: 12 Muffins

Equipment

  • Mixer
  • Regular 12 cup muffin tin
  • Muffin cups

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cranberry sauce or pulp
  • 1/4 cup crystalline sugar, optional

Instructions

  • I started by preheating the oven to 400°F. In my standing mixer (though you can use a bowl and hand mixer easily here) I mixed together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  • I got lazy and just tossed all the wet ingredients in next, sans egg shells (don’t be a smart ass). The cranberry sauce can be the pulp left over from making cranberry jelly, leftovers of your cranberry jam or store bought. I would recommend to use something with actual fruit bits in it for texture. I also would be hesitant to use something like cranberry relish here, I worry there is too much water, though maybe it would work, I haven’t tried.
  • Then turn on your mixer and get things thoroughly mixed but don’t overwork it. Get it so the batter looks the same throughout but don’t leave it running for an hour. You want to work it less if possible which will ensure less gluten development which means your muffins will be lighter. Think of gluten as binding power, we don’t want a lot of that in a muffin.
  • I divided these into 12 muffins. This meant that my muffin cups were full almost to the top and is why my muffins have that awesome dome on top. Don’t be afraid of overflowing your muffins, they’re going to be great.
  • I sprinkled some of that crystalline sugar for a fancy muffin effect. This is a personal choice, they’re great without this too.
  • I baked these for 22 minutes and even remembered to rotate the pan half way through.

Results

I am in love with these muffins for a few reasons. Firstly, I hate waste and cranberry sauce never gets finished so this satisfies my obsession with using up all leftovers. Second, when they actually get a few minutes to cool before you try to eat them, they develop this crust on top that is incredible. I have rarely been able to achieve this in a homemade muffin. Lastly, they look so darn good! I mean look at those domes!

References

Parent Notebook

Fruit Muffins

Cranberry Jelly: Test 1

The canned cranberry sauce for many is the iconic Thanksgiving condiment. This recipe is a nice upgrade to what you find at the grocery store, looks fancier, and is surprisingly easy to make at home.
Active Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Cooling Time3 hours
Total Time3 hours 30 minutes
Print Recipe
Yield: 2 cups

Equipment

  • Small pot
  • Fine-mesh strainer

Ingredients

  • 2 12oz bags of cranberries
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 oranges, juiced
  • 1 orange rind
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Instructions

  • All ingredients were combined in a small pot and set over medium heat. You could see it foam up as the cranberries begin to pop. Slowly the foam subsides and the berries all burst, the mixture thickens to a thick paste even when hot. This did not take long, roughly 15 minutes. You can see the progression of the consistency in the small gallery below. Towards the end I did start helping the berries pop to speed things up.
  • This mixture was then strained into a clean bowl while still hot. It is a bit of a process but not so bad. I simply used a rubber spatula to help push the juice through the mesh. Remember to remove precious juice from the underside of the strainer where it likes to collect. Your efforts should be rewarded with a beautiful clarified cranberry juice. Pour this juice into any container. A mason jar will give you the iconic canned look or a beautiful mold can turn this into an elegant presentation.
  • I refrigerated my jelly overnight but you should let it cool for at least 3 hours before unmolding.
  • I tend to not be in a hurry, so I prepared my jelly for unmolding by simply letting it sit on the counter while I cleaned the kitchen and prepped my food. You could also carefully run some hot water for a few seconds over the mold. This should loosed the sides enough to allow your cranberry jelly to come out cleanly.
  • DO NOT THROW OUT THAT PULP! Cranberry sauce muffins are a great way to us it up!

Results

This recipe is another one for the bank. Simple and makes a great centerpiece. 

Source

Exploratory Kitchen

Parent Notebook

Cranberry Condiments

Cranberry Jam: Test 1

This cranberry condiment is cooked but unstrained. This means it keeps the skins of the cranberries giving this cranberry sauce a stronger tartness.
Active Time5 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Print Recipe
Yield: 2 Cups

Equipment

  • Small pot

Ingredients

  • 12 oz cranberries
  • 1 cups sugar
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • ½ orange rind
  • 1 star anise
  • ½ cinnamon stick

Instructions

  • All ingredients were combined in a small pot and set over medium heat. You could see it foam up as the cranberries began to pop.½½
  • Slowly the foam subsides and the berries all burst, the mixture thickened to a thick paste even when hot. This did not take long, roughly 15 minutes. You can see the progression of the consistency in the small gallery below. Towards the end I did start helping the berries pop to speed things up by crushing them with my spoon.
  • Before storing, remove the orange peel and large spices. Can be canned or just refrigerated. Lasts quite a few weeks in the fridge.

Results

The resulting jam-like condiment is similar to the cranberry sauce most people know but with bits of tart fruit. The spices are strong but well balanced. I don’t feel like this need any further adjustment.

References

The Exploratory Kitchen

Parent Notebook

Cranberry Condiments

Cranberry Relish: Test 1

Fresh cranberry sauce, or cranberry relish, is often overlooked as an ideal turkey condiment. I am not sure why no one has noticed how well this fruit mash works with turkey. Honestly I've eaten this stuff by the spoonful because it's just that good.
Active Time10 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
Print Recipe
Yield: 2 cups

Equipment

  • Food Processor

Ingredients

  • 12 oz cranberries, 1 bag
  • 2 small apples
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 orange, peeled
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger

Instructions

  • I started by adding the cranberries, the whole peeled orange, nutmeg, ginger and 1 cup of sugar to the food processor and running it until finely pureed.
  • When I tasted it at this point, it was too tart and I opted for another 1/4 cup of sugar. Unfortunately, the relish was still too tart!
  • My solution this time was to add two apples that I had on the verge of going bad. It worked! It brought the tartness down quite a bit but now the whole thing was too sweet. Omit that last 1/4 cup is my recommendation and you'll have a well balanced relish.. I suspect it will ferment sooner than spoil.
  • Throw it into a storage container. You're done. How easy was that? This should last at least 2 weeks though I'll keep you posted as mine sits in the fridge. At 2 weeks it's still going strong. (A month later it had still not spoiled but I no longer felt willing to eat it past 1 month).

Results

This is by far the easiest cranberry condiment for your turkey, adding bright flavor to compliment the turkey’s blandness. Not the the other cranberry sauces take much work but this one also brings in the freshness of uncooked fruit. It’s really an underappreciated delight.

References

Exploratory Kitchen

Parent Notebook

Cranberry Condiments

Cranberry Condiments

Introduction

For this post I’ve chosen to consolidate my cranberry sauces and relishes because their purpose is the same – slathering onto turkey to make it edible. We can disagree on the worthiness of turkey if you’d like but we can all agree that cranberry condiments are necessary and delicious. There is something very festive about that tart and sweet, bright pink flavor.

Experimental Findings

So which one is better?

That depends on what you’re going for. The jelly has the least tartness and some deep notes from the anise and cinnamon. The cranberry jam style is more chunky but also packs a bigger punch as the cranberry skins are very flavorful. Both the jelly and the jam and cooked and thick and deep but if you want something fresher and lighter the relish is fantastic. Each of these is great in its own right

Boy that jelly is nostalgic and tasty but what do I do with all the remaining pulp?

I’m so glad you asked because I was asking myself that too. That pulp is the bomdiggity and it would be a shame to throw it out. I highly recommend making these festive Cranberry Sauce Muffins.

How can my cranberries become a molded jelly without any added gelatin?

The short answer is that cranberries are really high in pectin. For a longer answer, here is an excerpt form Scientific American on the subject.

Pectin is a natural polymer—a series of molecules that attach to one another to form long chains. It is found between plant cells and within their cell walls. Pectin helps “glue” the plant cells together, keeping their tissues firm. And in cooked cranberries as well as in other fruit jams and jellies this pectin can help stick the cooked fruit together to form a solid jelly. When cranberries are cooked, their pectin polymers tangle and interact, forming a net that traps dissolved sugar molecules so they can’t flow. This creates a firm shape. Cranberries naturally contain a lot of pectin, which helps keep the berries nice and firm. This extra pectin gets released when they are cooked. But what determines if the resulting cranberry sauce is liquid or jelly?

You can see how cooking affects the sauce in the picture progression below. As the sauce cooks, you can see how it thickens. The longer you cook it, the thicker it will be and the more solid it will become when cooled. And yes, that means you could mold the cranberry jam and not just the cranberry jelly.

Tests

Cranberry Jam: Test 1 – Because the fruit bits are great
Cranberry Relish: Test 1 – Fresh like a salad but actually yummy

Cranberry Jelly: Test 1 – Nostalgic can sauce

Caramel Pecan Pumpkin Monkey Bread: Test 1

This was my first attempt at this luxurious cake. I tried hard not to change the procedure described in the source recipe and it paid off. This sticky, gooey mound of sugar coated dough lumps it like heaven on earth. Give it a try too and you won’t regret it!
Active Time1 hour
Cook Time35 minutes
Rising time1 day 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time1 day 3 hours
Print Recipe

Equipment

  • Standing mixer
  • 12 cup bunt pan
  • 2 small mixing bowl

Ingredients

Pumpkin Bread

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 7 g yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup unsweetened canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg

Glaze

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Coating

  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup ground pecans
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 113g, melted

Instructions

Pumpkin Bread

  • In a standing mixer I combined 1 cup of flour, yeast, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. I mixed these together with the paddle until blended.
  • In the meantime, I added the water and butter into a small microwave proof bowl and microwaved until the butter was fully melted. This took roughly a minute on high. Unfortunately, when I was done the water/fat mix was too hot to add to the yeast so I waited till it cooled. You want it between 120 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Mine was at 126 degrees. I totally screwed up on this by the way, because my brain forgot what 4 vs 2 looks like and I used only 2 Tbsps of butter instead of the 4 suggested in the source recipe.
  • Once the water and butter were at a non-lethal temperature, I added it to the flour mixture along with the pumpkin puree, egg, and sugar and let it mix with the paddle for 3 minutes.
  • At this point I switched to the dough hook attachment and started adding flour bit by bit until the dough no longer stuck to the bowl at all. This was 2 1/2 cups for me on top of the first cup added in step 1.
  • The dough was then removed from the standing mixer bowl and gently turned into a ball and added to a large well oiled bowl to rise for 60-90 minutes. I think I was on the longer side for mine but honestly, I started cleaning things and just looked over form time to time to see if it had doubled in size yet. I should also note that my house, even in the middle of winter was a lovely 73 degrees Fahrenheit and dough does rise well on my counter. If you live like a student and your home is chilly, consider putting the dough into your oven with the heat turned off but the oven light turned on. One more aside before we move on, when I took the dough out of the mixer bowl it was still a pretty wet dough. It was borderline sticky. The oil from the bowl helped me and the dough remain separate entities.

Glaze

  • The glaze was made by just adding the brown sugar to the melted butter and whisking until incorporated. It’s really that simple and it will look for a while like these two will never come together but just keep going. This is a pretty good general rule in baking. If someone tells you to do something and it looks wrong, try mixing way longer!
  • Finally I just added some chopped pecans, maybe even a lot of chopped pecans. This turned out to be very, very important because these beautiful pecans get a nice candy coating and became beautifully crunchy. Can’t go wrong with candied pecans guys.

Assembly

  • Ok, so this is where it got long and a little tedious if you’re obsessive like me. I needed to take that lovely bread dough and divide it into 64 pieces. I like to weigh the whole dough and then divide it on a calculator and then weigh out each piece to the size I need. I did warn you about the tediousness. The shorter method is to just divide the dough in two, 6 times but then it won’t be perfect.
  • In a small bowl, I mixed the coating ingredients sans butter.
  • In another small bowl I melted the butter.
  • Finally, this is where it got exciting again. I sprayed my bundt pan down with some baking PAM because I’m lazy and unwary of scary chemicals. You can definitely choose to coat it in butter or do whatever you do to keep thing from sticking to the pan.
  • I took half of my glaze with those pecan gems and poured it into the pan in a nice little layer.
  • Next, I grabbed my precisely weighed dough morsels and dipped them into that butter before tossing in the sugar-spice mixture. Then each coated dough nugget was placed in the bundt pan in evenly around.
  • Once all of the dough has been used up and your pan is full of little dough balls, the rest of that glaze was poured on top. The dough was covered with plastic wrap with enough space for the expected rise but tight enough that the dough didn’t dry out.
  • At last, the raw cake was thrown into the fridge to rise slowly overnight.

Baking

  • After a long day the previous day, I loved how easy the next day was. The cake was removed from the fridge to let it come to room temperature. All in all it probably sat on my counter for 2-3 hours. Around 3 hours I realized it’s not going to rise anymore (might not be so great) and I chose to preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The cake was baked for 35 minutes and then removed to cool

Results

I know, I know I just gave you so many notes in the recipe but I have some more things to confess. After I baked this thing, I turned it out for photos and then resisted eating it somehow, put it back in the pan, covered it, and threw it in the fridge for another 24 hours. Yes, I am apparently capable of self control. Hear me out though, this was meant for a friendsgiving party so what could I do? Before eating I warmed it up in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes before turning it out on a plate and letting people at it. 
So what was the final result?
Guys, this cake lived through the night ONLY because everyone was so crazy full from dinner, but it was picked at for many hours into the night with lots of love. It come out gooey, glossy, warm, tender, and those pecans…you heard about them already for good reason. Down side, the bread dried out a bit but I’m not sure if that’s because of the butter mixup or the reheating. I guess I’ll just have to try this recipe again. Woe is me!

References

https://www.barbarabakes.com/overnight-pumpkin-monkey-bread-with-maple-cream-cheese-icing/

Parent Notebook

Caramel Pecan Pumpkin Monkey Bread

Caramel Pecan Pumpkin Monkey Bread

Introduction

You know this recipe is good just by how many words are in the title. Monkey bread is generally just chunks of bread stacked together in a pan and baked to create a pull-apart cake. To me, monkey bread is also gooey, delicate, and luxurious. You know it’s luxurious by how much butter coats this thing.

Experimental Findings

What do you mean by “how much butter coats this thing”?

I’m going to come clean, this monkey bread is very tasty but what makes it so good is that it has a full 2 sticks of butter and nearly 2 1/2 cups of sugar. Worth it!

How was the bread itself?

It was good but not great. Test 1 wasn’t as tender as I would have liked. This could be due to insufficient butter in the dough or maybe because I reheated it 24 hours after baking before I ever got to taste it. I will just have to try this one out again.

Tests

Caramel Pecan Pumpkin Monkey Bread: Test 1 – A luxurious addition to my waistline