Sunday, January 29, 2017

Raisin Muffins

My mom used to make Raisin Muffins and we loved them! These were just one of the baked treats she tried to keep in the freezer on a regular basis to serve with tea or coffee in case unexpected company stopped by for a visit!

I've been making her raisin muffin recipe at least once a year for a very long time!
More recently, I decided to see if I could update the recipe just a bit. The original called for the raisins to be boiled in water. That was fine, but I figured I could add just a hint more flavour by boiling them in orange juice or a citrus blend such as that made by 5 Alive or other brands. I also thought that since I was using juice, I could cut back a bit on the brown sugar.

The only other change I made was to use whole wheat flour instead of all purpose. The muffins didn't rise quite as much as with the all purpose flour but I prefer the taste and texture with the whole wheat.

As always, the choice is yours. You can boil the raisins in juice, water or a water/juice mix. You can use whole wheat flour, all purpose flour or a combo. I'd still stick with my slightly reduced brown sugar though as these were a bit on the sweet side.

Generally, I use Sultana raisins but you could also use Thompson, Golden or a combination. Regardless of the type, always rinse them with hot water in a colander before using to wake them up a bit from the drying. Raisins (or any dried fruit) can get really hard or clump together after awhile so the hot water rinse or a brief soak in hot water followed by a hot rinse is a perfect way to wake up and enhance the flavour for whatever purpose you are using them!

These muffins are yummy on their own!
They are also a might tasty with a bit of cheddar cheese! I think my favourite way to have them was to slice them in half and top each half with a piece of cheddar cheese - or just put a piece of cheddar between the top and bottom and eat it like a sandwich! 
I also love having them with apple slices or a fruit salad. 
In the last few weeks, I've handed out several muffins to taste testers and they all thought they were delish!

Raisin Muffins
2 cups raisins
3 cups orange juice or an orange/Citrus blend such as 5 Alive
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup block margarine, softened to room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
2 large eggs, at room temperature - fork beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the raisins, I generally use Sultana's but you could also use Thompson or Golden if you prefer. Measure the raisins then place in a colander and run under hot tap water to rinse and separate. (Note: If the raisins are extremely dry, hard or clumped together, place them in a dish of hot water for a couple minutes then stir to separate then place in a colander to rinse.) Drain well.

Combine the raisins and orange juice in a medium sized pot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-high and cook at a gentle boil (uncovered) for 20 minutes. Remove from the burner to a rack to cool - DO NOT DRAIN! You will use the raisins and the remaining juice in the recipe!
Spray muffin tins with Pam or line muffin tins with paper liners and set aside.

In a medium size bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. (Note: I prefer using whole wheat but you could use All purpose or a combination of both.)

Place the softened margarine and brown sugar in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and beat till creamy. Add the beaten eggs and the vanilla. Mix thoroughly

Add the cooled raisins AND the juice they were boiled in. Mix thoroughly.

Add the dry ingredients - mixing on low speed till well combined.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins (to about 3/4 full). Bake in preheated 350F oven for 20 minutes or till toothpick test shows clean.
Remove to cooling rack. If you didn't use paper liners, carefully run a knife around the edge of the muffins to make sure they don't stick to the pan. Gently, tip the muffins on their side to cool for a few minutes to cool before removing to the rack to finish cooling.
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen tasty muffins. These freeze really well!