We’ve had quite a few snow and ice days recently, more than we thought we would have this year. I guess after the unusually powerful snow storms we had last year we thought the next few winters would be milder, more like the average winters for this area. But there is still snow on the ground and just a couple days of sunshine sprinkled here and there, and with being cooped up we’ve been baking more than usual. Not that that’s a bad thing, and the boys appreciate having fresh muffins and scones for breakfast.
These whole wheat ricotta muffins stick to the ribs and keep the boys going in the mornings, and they love the flavor and smell of the orange zest with the dried cranberries. After zesting the orange, I rub it into the sugar with my fingers and let it sit for a few minutes before mixing with the butter, which gives the sugar a distinct orange flavor that permeates the muffins. You can also use orange sugar leftover from storing candied orange peels for more fabulous orange flavor.
Whole wheat muffin batter tend to be stickier than muffins made from all-purpose flour, and coating the muffin papers with nonstick spray helps them to peel off easier without the muffin sticking. The texture is best on the first day, but if you have some leftover muffins you can warm them up a bit the next morning and they’ll be fine.
Whole Wheat Cranberry Orange Ricotta Muffins
- muffin tin, lined with paper liners coated with nonstick spray
- small mixing bowl
- medium mixing bowl
- stand mixer with paddle attachment, or hand mixer and large bowl
- 1 cup granulated sugar (plus more as needed for sprinkling)
- 1 orange (zested and juiced)
- 2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- Preheat the oven to 350° degrees F/175° C.
- In a small bowl, combine 1 cup of sugar with the orange zest, using your fingers to rub the zest in. Set aside and allow the orange to infuse the sugar for about 15 minutes. You can also do this the day before to really let the flavor soak in.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In the stand mixer, beat the infused sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the ricotta until it's thoroughly mixed, then add the eggs and orange juice, mixing until thoroughly combined. Add the dry ingredients and stir by hand just until blended (the batter will be thick and fluffy), but don't over mix or the muffins will become tough. Gently fold in the cranberries.
- Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle a little sugar over the muffins. Bake until the muffins just become pale golden on top, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.