Food for Fall Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins

Xiao Dai/New University

by Ada Lau

Sadly, autumn  is partnered up with midterm season. One of my favorite seasons coupled with  my least favorite time of the school year. I cannot completely focus on my studies when all I want to do is search high and low for some sense of the changing season in 80-degree Irvine. I decided to take matters in to my own hands and  bring  the much-needed weather change  to my apartment.

What better way to celebrate the turning color of leaves and the turning pages of textbooks than to stress-bake with a flavor so quintessentially autumn that the season cannot be denied?

Pumpkins. It is a tradition for me to buy a couple cans of pumpkin each year when grocery stores start carrying them. I never know what I want to make with them nor am I ever sure I would be able to use them all, yet I feel compelled to snag a couple cans.

When I cracked open my first jar of canned pumpkin this season, I made pumpkin granola. This instantly kicked off my obsession as I continued experimenting with pumpkin recipes. I made more granola, pumpkin hot chocolate and added pumpkin puree into my oatmeal. I was on a pumpkin frenzy. However, this time around with the full blown schedule of stressful midterms, granola and hot chocolate could not satisfy my roommates and I.. We ached for the gaping hole that needed to be filled with the comfort of  carbs. I needed to bake!

As I leisurely browsed through popular recipe websites for something delicious to bake, I realized I had used up my allotted “study break” time and knew I needed to make something less labor intensive. So a quick loaf of bread it was. The website featured a wide range of quick breads such as pumpkin and chocolate chips, walnuts and apples. All of those combinations with the pumpkin sounded delectable but I knew I wanted fresh cranberries in my quick bread. There was just something about pumpkins and cranberries that completed the feel of autumn. I knew I found the quick bread recipe I wanted to tackle when I saw the image of pumpkin muffins studded with fresh cranberries. The way the fresh cranberries stained the surrounding dough made me even more excited to start baking.

Here’s a heads up; the bread is quite dense, yet moist. Also, the fresh cranberries lend a really tangy flavor to the bread so if you prefer less tang, opt for dried cranberries, chocolate chips, nuts, a mixture of add-ins or leave it out completely! Another thing to  note is that the original recipe made six muffins and since I wanted a loaf of bread, I doubled the recipe and adjusted the baking time to 40 minutes and the temperature to 325°F. Below is the original recipe from www.roxanagreengirl.com.

CRANBERRY PUMPKIN MUFFINS

Ingredients:

1 and 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

1/3 cup agave nectar (I used honey instead)

1/4 cup canned pumpkin or pumpkin puree

4 tablespoons grape seed oil (or other light flavored oil)

Grated zest from one small orange

1/3 cup almond milk (any type of milk will work as well)

1/2 cup fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Line your muffin baking tray with paper cups.

Combine the dry ingredients in a smaller bowl and set aside.

In a larger bowl, combine the wet ingredients up through the orange zest.

Slowly combine the wet ingredients into the wet ingredients.

Then, slowly add the almond milk and the fresh cranberries.

Stir until combined but do not over mix.

Fill your muffin pans with the batter and bake for 23-25 minutes or until done.

Once done, let cool and enjoy while studying!