Cranberry Upside Down Muffins

I tend to stay away from making cakes a lot just because I am not so great with the portion control. But I had been thinking about making a cranberry upside down cake for a while so when I saw it in muffin form I knew I had to try this recipe immediately.

Do you like cranberry sauce? If you do, you’ll love these muffins. For the longest time, I absolutely refused to eat cranberry sauce with whole cranberries. I’d only eat the jellied kind that come out of the can…in the shape of a can. I still have that kind at my Thanksgiving, mostly out of tradition, but I make real cranberry sauce, too, and these muffins make me love it even more.

Cranberry Upside Down Muffins

This is a really easy and fast recipe to make and I think the muffins come out so pretty! If you wanted to be a perfectionist, you could cut off the bottoms so they’d sit straight, but it didn’t bother me.

The cranberry sauce tastes like traditional sauce, except it’s initially much more syrupy so that it won’t seep too much into the muffin batter. The muffin part is quite moist but just be careful about mixing these as they will be tough if you over mix. I was reading some baking tips recently and it said that if you want to keep your muffins light and moist you should always aim to stir less than 20 times.

The muffins taste good, but maybe a little bland? However, since the cranberry sauce is quite tart, I’m pretty sure that is by design. Next time, I’m going to try replacing half of the vanilla with some orange extract to give the muffins a bit more flavor and to tie into the orange juice/zest that is in the cranberry sauce.

Cranberry Upside Down Muffins

Cranberry Upside Down Muffins

adapted from From a Baker’s Kitchen by Gail Sher

Breakfast, Dessert | Servings: 12
Prep time: 25 min | Cook time: 20 min | Total time: 45 min

Ingredients

Cranberry Sauce:

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (thawed)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp. orange juice or water
  • 1 tbsp. grated orange zest (you can omit this if you don’t have any)

Muffin Batter:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla*
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

* Next time I am going to try this with 1/2 tsp. vanilla + 1/2 tsp. orange extract. I haven’t tried it though, so I’m not sure how it will turn out! Update: A reader tried this and said it was good!

Process

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F). Place rack in the middle of the oven. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan really well with butter or cooking spray.
  2. Place the cranberries, sugar, orange juice and orange zest in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar dissolves and the cranberries start to pop open, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly while you make the batter.
  3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan or in the the microwave and set aside to cool.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  5. In a separate bowl, stir together the milk, egg, vanilla and melted butter.
  6. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the milk mixture. With a wooden spoon or spatula, gently fold the dry ingredients over and stir just until combined. These muffins will be too tough if you over mix, so be very careful! A good rule of thumb for muffins is to make sure to stir less than 20 times.
  7. Evenly divide the cranberry sauce among the 12 muffins cups and then spoon the batter over the cranberry sauce. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until very lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool for a few minutes, and then invert them onto a the rack so the the cranberry topping is face up.

Store in an air tight container or they will dry out.