I love the fall and winter season, and one of the first signs that it has arrived is when fresh cranberries appear in the supermarket. For the longest time, I could never figure out what to do with them. Then I stumbled on some recipes for homemade cranberry sauce, and realized that I could do way better than the Ocean Spray jelled cranberry sauce sold in the store. I started making homemade cranberry sauce for our Thanksgiving dinners, and loved cranberries simmered into a sweet, jammy sauce. It was fun to add different flavor elements and see what happened to the sauce. But it wasn’t until I attended a gluten-free potluck and had a gluten-free cranberry pie/crumble that I realized how delicious cranberries could be in baked goods. That’s why this season when I found that special first bag of cranberries at Trader Joe’s, I immediately decided to try to come up with a killer cranberry muffin using fresh, rather than dried, cranberries. My first effort was way too healthy- I tried converting a recipe to be both gluten-free and vegan recipe with severely reduced oil and sugar- and I didn’t like them at all. The next time, I decided to go for flavor and texture, taking inspiration from a southern-style recipe for cranberry muffins. The recipe I converted was quite big, and I only had one muffin tin, so I decided to bake half of it as muffins and half as a cranberry coffee cake, sprinkling it with brown sugar and chopped pecans just for fun. It occurs to me you could do this to the muffins as well, to make them even more decadent, but I like having the option of a healthier muffin as well as the option of yummy, sweet cranberry coffee cake. I loved the texture of the muffin crust- it was almost like cornbread, sans corn. The cake had the same lovely texture with the added bonus of caramelized pecans. Mmmm, I think I’m really on to something with this whole cranberry baked good thing… So the next time you can’t decide between making muffins or cake- and have a lovely bag of fresh cranberries in your fridge, just make both! Enjoy!
Gluten Free Cranberry Muffin Recipe with Cranberry Pecan Coffee Cake Recipe
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup white rice flour blend (such as Bette Hagman’s gourmet mix containing tapioca starch)
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup garfava bean flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup yogurt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
For cake variation:
Combine cranberries and 1/4 cup brown sugar in a small bowl and reserve. Combine dry ingredients including sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter or margarine into the dry ingredients until the texture becomes slightly crumbly. Then combine your eggs, milk, and yogurt in a bowl and whisk together. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry crumble and gently stir together. Fold in your cranberry-sugar mixture.
For muffins, pour into 2 muffin tins sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and bake for 20-25 minutes.
For cranberry cake variation, combine your brown sugar and pecans in a small bowl. Spray up to two square 8 in. cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. If you like, you can like the cake pan with wax paper Pour your batter into the cake pan. Sprinkle the top with your brown sugar and pecans and bake for 25-30 minutes.
You can use half the batter for a batch of muffins and half the batter for a cranberry coffee cake!