Most mornings Dylan builds an elaborate structure of some kind before pre-school. Sometimes it’s out of magna-tiles, other times out of legos or blocks. The moment he walks out the door I quickly take pictures of it from all angles so I can try and fix it, to my best ability, after his little brother inevitably knocks it down. Some days I pass the test and he doesn’t catch my mistakes in a wall or tower but other times he knows right away that something is different and starts to inquire about every detail of my day – did anyone come over, what did Gray do, did I touch anything?
It’s this balance of a spastic one year old and thoughtful four year old that is challenging. Baking together as a threesome is not that fun these days. The little guy wants to splash in the flour while the big guy wants to crack the eggs all by himself. Lately, when Gray is napping Dylan and I get to work in the kitchen together where used the rest of our locally harvested cranberries to make muffins. Baby brother was quite happy when he woke up.
PS. The cheetah is basically part of the family.
3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg yolk
1 1/3 cups pure cane sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1 cup creme fraiche, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
2 cups chopped cranberries
(The zoo before being demolished.)
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 F. Butter a standard 12-cup muffin tin, coat with nonstick cooking spray, or line with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolk until thoroughly mixed. Slowly whisk in the sugar, butter, milk, creme fraiche, and vanilla until well combined. Pour the butter-sugar mixture into the flour mixture and, using a rubber spatula, fold gently just until the ingredients are combined. Gently fold in the cranberries and orange zest until evenly distributed. The batter may seem lumpy, but don’t try to smooth it out.
3. Spoon the batter in to the prepared cups, dividing it evenly and filling the cups to the rim (almost overflowing).
4. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown on top and spring back when pressed in the middle with a fingertip. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan.
5. The muffins taste best on the day they are baked, but they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. If you keep them for longer than 1 day, refresh them in a 300 F oven for 4 to 5 minutes. Or, you can freeze them, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 1 week; reheat, directly from the freezer, in a 300 F oven for 8 to 10 minutes.