These cranberry gingerbread muffins are flavoured with fancy molasses, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg for a festive breakfast treat in the winter.
It doesn't feel like winter if there's no gingerbread. The gingerbread could come in the form of gingerbread granola, gingerbread cookie cut-outs, and even muffins like these. I associate gingerbread with fall–winter more than Christmas. I think it's always best to just answer a craving, rather than try and ignore it until it's proper gingerbread season. Why the sudden urge to listen to my cravings? Let me explain.
The key to tasty gingerbread is the mix of spices (heavy on the ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg) and the fancy molasses (not to be confused with blackstrap molasses, which would be overpowering). If you have a muffin recipe you like, an easy baking substitution would be to replace half the sugar with fancy molasses, by the way.
Tips for baking with cranberries
Sweet gingerbread flavours go hand in hand with tart cranberry, and there are two ways of incorporating cranberries in muffins: fresh/frozen cranberries or dried cranberries:
- fresh or frozen cranberries will inevitably release some fruit juice into the muffins as they bake and the fruit begins to heat up, which can lead to a certain gummy layer of batter around the fruit if the recipe already has a high level of moisture
- dried cranberries don't add more moisture to recipes, which is a good thing in most cases, but because they absorb moisture, they can lead to a dryer crumb
If you are baking with fresh or frozen cranberries, be sure to toss them in flour to coat them before adding to the muffin batter. This will help absorb some of the moisture as they bake. And don't defrost frozen cranberries before using them. They will end up very wet and are hard to work with when defrosted.
If you are baking with dried cranberries, you can plump them in boiling water to rehydrate them before stirring into your batter.
For this recipe, I pre-cooked the cranberries by poaching them in a simple syrup, which is actually the first step in making the sugared cranberries you see on this frosted chestnut cake. You can also just go ahead and incorporate the fresh or frozen cranberries directly in the batter if you prefer.
Gingerbread muffins with cranberries
- 180 grams (⅓ lb) frozen cranberries 1.5 cups
- 200 grams (1⅔ cups) bleached all-purpose flour plus 1 tablespoon extra for coating the cranberries
- 3.75 mL (¾ teaspoon) baking powder
- 2.5 mL (½ teaspoon) baking soda
- 2.5 mL (½ teaspoon) Diamond Crystal fine kosher salt
- 5 mL (1 teaspoon) ground cinnamon
- 2.5 mL (½ teaspoon) ground cloves
- 1.25 mL (¼ teaspoon) ground ginger
- 1.25 mL (¼ teaspoon) ground nutmeg
- 100 grams (½ cup) unsalted butter
- 100 grams (½ cup) granulated sugar
- 100 grams (⅓ cup) molasses
- 2 large eggs
- 5 mL (1 teaspoon) pure vanilla extract
- 57 grams (¼ cup) buttermilk (1 % fat)
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line 10 slots of a muffin pan with paper liners. Set aside.
- Toss the frozen cranberries in 1 tablespoon of flour. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the 200 grams flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the spices. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the molasses, then the eggs one at a time, beating and scraping down the mixer bowl as needed. Add the vanilla.
- Dump in a half of the dry ingredients, then the buttermilk, and the rest of the dry ingredients.
- Fold the flour-coated cranberries into the batter, divide among the paper-lined muffin pans and bake for about 23–25 minutes. Use a cake tester to check that the muffins are properly baked. Let cool.
I do my best to bake with the finest ingredients. Stirling Creamery, a Canadian company, has provided the butter for this post.