It’s holiday time and today I’ve got a delicious healthier cranberry ricotta muffin. These muffins are full of cardamom and tart cranberries that burst in your mouth. A delicious combination, perfect for a chilly winter’s day.
Cranberries are one of my favourite berries due to their tartness and you will get some tartness in each bite with these muffins. I don’t believe in masking the tartness of fruit and berries but rather embracing it. Otherwise, you might as well eat a sweeter berry like a strawberry. These muffins are tart enough to have you puckering up but you’ll definitely get a good zing in your mouth with every cranberry you bite into!
As the title of cranberry ricotta muffins may have hinted, I’ve also added ricotta into these muffins to add a little protein and richness. I like adding ricotta to baking for this reason and it pairs so nicely with the cranberries and cardamom in these muffins. If you’re wondering what to have ready to snack on while everyone opens presents on Christmas morning, then you’ve come to the right place!
How to Properly Measure Flour
So when it comes to measuring flour, the most accurate and easiest way is to use a kitchen scale. I always use a scale and could never go back to measuring in cups. It’s such a hassle and way more dishes!
If you don’t own a scale, there are a couple steps to properly measure flour as it becomes compacted just sitting in the bag or container. I highly recommend you follow these as just scooping flour out of the bag can potentially lead to at least an additional 1/4 cup of flour. This equals dry and dense baked goods which is not what anybody is going for.
1. Fluff the flour by giving it a mix with a whisk or fork.
2. Spoon the flour into your measuring cup.
3. Level the excess flour off using a butter knife. (With the back of the knife level to the top of the measuring cup, run it over top, pushing the excess flour back into it’s container.)
4. Repeat until you’ve measured the amount the recipe calls for.
Benefits of Whole Wheat Flour vs. White Flour
When baking healthier snacks, treats or breakfasts, I’m a big fan of using whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour, also known as white flour. There are many benefits to this including a higher concentration of minerals like copper, magnesium and iron. This is important for me personally as like many women, I’ve had issues with low iron in my life.
There is also a larger source of B vitamins in whole wheat flour which provides energy. Whole wheat flour has a higher protein content as well as more fibre, both of which can keep you feeling full longer. Another great thing about whole wheat flour is it can add a little extra flavour bringing a hint of nuttiness to certain bakes.
The only cons of using whole wheat flour that I know of is sometimes it can make a recipe more dense, which is why I typically add more moisture to my recipes. In doing this, I generally don’t notice that I’m eating a whole wheat flour muffin instead of a white flour muffin.
The other downside is I know everybody doesn’t keep whole wheat flour on hand. Well, I never used to either and now I can’t imagine not having it in the house. I buy a large 10kg bag for the exact same price as an all purpose bag of flour and have never had it go bad on me. I highly recommend keeping some on hand so you can make guilt free muffins, quick breads or whatever you want! In saying this, if the recipe doesn’t call for it, I don’t recommend swapping whole wheat flour for white flour, they’re generally not a 1 to 1 substitute.
If you’d like more information on the nutritional benefits, head to https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/whole-grains/. There are lots of great sources of nutritional information on the Harvard website that is backed up by multiple sources.
How to Store These Cranberry Muffins
When storing these muffins, the first step is to ensure they’re fully cooled. Storing warm muffins leads to excess moisture which will ruin the texture of the muffins and cause them to get gummy and soggy, especially on the top.
As muffins are generally and hopefully very moist, the easiest way to keep them from getting soggy is to store it with paper towels.
Place a paper towel on the bottom of an airtight container or bag. I like to use an extra large reusable bag. Place the muffins on top and lay an additional paper towel on top. Store them at room temperature for up to 3 days.
How to Freeze the Muffins
The best thing about all my healthy muffins, including these cranberry ricotta muffins, is they freeze well. They’re an easy thing to whip up and meal prep for the week or month! When freezing muffins, you’ll again want to ensure they’re completely cooled.
Once cooled, place a paper towel on the bottom of an airtight container or bag. I like to use a freezer safe extra large reusable bag. Place the muffins on top in a single layer and then place another paper towel on top. The paper towel helps to keep the excess moisture away from the muffins and helps ensure they don’t get freezer burnt. Store like this for up to 3 months.
When you’re ready to eat one or all of them, let thaw at room temperature for a couple hours or heat in the microwave in 20 second increments. Be cautious if using the microwave when feeding children or toddlers, it can leave hot spots.
- You can use fresh or frozen cranberries in this recipe, I don’t notice a difference either way. Just don’t pre-thaw the cranberries if using frozen or they’ll bleed throughout the batter.
- Make sure not to overmix the batter or you will end up with a very tough, dense muffin. Gently fold the batter until just combined.
- I like to top these muffins with turbinado sugar but this is totally optional. The sugar gives them a glittery holiday look but also gives them the traditional crunchy top. If you don’t have turbinado sugar, sanding sugar also works or any larger granule of sugar.
- I create my recipes based off weights so I recommend measuring by weights if you own a scale. It’s actually so much easier and makes for much less cleanup. I wish I had baked by weight from the beginning, I could never go back now.
Other Healthier Baking Options
Today’s song is a Christmas song because I can’t get enough of them! Here’s Home for the Holidays by Perry Como. Happy baking!! **Disclaimer: Liv’s Little Muffins owns no rights to this song.
Cranberry Ricotta Muffins
- 1 1/2 cups (180g) whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup (20g) ground flaxseed
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup (90g) brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup (220g) ricotta cheese (reduced fat or regular)
- 1/3 cup (60g) canola oil
- 1/3 cup (75g) unsweetened oat milk (or milk of choice, not skim)
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup (110g) cranberries (fresh or frozen)
- 1 1/2 tbsp turbinado sugar (optional topping)
- Line or spray a 12 tin muffin pan. Preheat your oven to 425℉.
- In a medium mixing bowl, add the flour, ground flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cardamom. Whisk gently to combine.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and sugar. Whisk to combine. Then add the ricotta, canola oil, milk and vanilla extract. Whisk until well combined, for about 1 minute.
- Add the dry mixture into wet and fold together with a spatula until almost combined. Add in the cranberries and fold a couple more times until just combined. DON'T overmix!
- Scoop the muffin mix into the lined tins, each cup will be a little over full. If using, sprinkle some turbinado sugar onto the top of each muffin.
- Bake at 425℉ for 5 minutes, then drop the temperature to 350℉ and bake for an additional 13-15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to completely cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months and enjoy!