So, the best thing I purchased in quarantine was the cold brew maker that lives in my fridge now, but the second best thing I picked up was Joshua McFadden’s cookbook Six Seasons: A New Way With Vegetables. It’s a rare cookbook where I want to make literally every recipe in it, and I’ve already given it to more than a few friends as gifts. I’m a big fan of McFadden’s approach to cooking (the book is veggie-focused, but not strictly vegetarian – there’s a killer lamb stew with eggplant, among other meat-y recipes), and I’m eagerly awaiting his second book out this fall on cooking/baking with whole grains.
All of this to say that I checked out a recipe he developed for All-Clad last month and it was a disappointment. I don’t put the blame entirely with him – this probably passed through editors and assistants and somewhere along the way, a bunch of the helpful information I expect from a recipe went missing (and I had 18 muffins worth of batter for a recipe that said it would make 12). I’m a skilled enough baker to have survived this Bake-Off Technical Challenge-level starkness in the recipe, but I wanted to make it better for the bakers that came after me. Here’s my take on how this should go.
Cranberry Carrot-Cake Muffins
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour (300 g)
- ½ cup brown sugar (107 g)
- ¾ cup granulated sugar (150 g)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup grated carrots (99 g)
- 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (99 g)
- ½ cup crystallized ginger (92 g)
- 12 oz cream cheese softened
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp honey
- Preheat your oven to 400 F. Grease a 12-well muffin tin with butter or cooking spray.
- In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, vanilla, and honey until smooth. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, both sugars, baking soda, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
- In another small bowl, whisk together the eggs, water, and olive oil.
- Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients in the large bowl and add your wet ingredients. Mix together until dry ingredients are fully moistened and no dry spots remain.
- Fold in the carrots, cranberries, and crystalized ginger.
- Fill each well of the muffin tin with about 3 Tbsp of batter, then top with a large spoonful of cream cheese mixture on the center.
- Bake, checking around the 18-22 minute mark with a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean, they are done. Cool on a rack and enjoy.