Orange Marmalade Mini Muffins were part of my early St. Patrick’s Day celebration this year.
But this year didn’t give him a choice, because my cookbook club had me checking out one of the best known Irish chefs, Darina Allen.
I’ve written about the cookbook club before. Each month, the host chooses a cookbook author or book for us to cook from, discuss and enjoy. Then we make recipes from that author or book, sharing our thoughts and food at our monthly get togethers. It’s incredible fun and great bonding. I did know about Darina Allen’s home base, the Ballymaloe Cookery School. However, I was not familiar with Ms. Allen or her books. So this month’s cookbook club was a great introduction to Darina Allen as an author and chef.
For my contributions, I chose 3 recipes from her book, Irish Traditional Cooking. My choices were parsnip carrot mash, pickled beets, and marmalade buns. We loved all 3 dishes even though I found the directions a bit confusing. The recipes were provided as a mother or grandmother might have given them – short on detail, and missing information that would have guided someone unfamiliar with how to make the dish.
Still, the final results were delicious. I will definitely make all 3 again, and want to try several of the Darina Allen recipes other club members made.
But for now, I’m remaking and adapting the marmalade buns. I turned them into Orange Marmalade Mini Muffins, with a few modest changes and directions that will help even the least confident cooks among us. My version are two-bite treats, with a delicate texture. They are not-too-sweet, yet with enough marmalade to make them a fine alternative to scones or banana bread.
By the way, you’ll notice my Kerrygold butter and my rather fancy English marmalade. An inadvertent, but heartfelt, attempt to bring a bit of culinary harmony to these often-at-odds countries. Plus I couldn’t resist using my Costco stash of Kerrygold and my marmalade splurge. I do not have a relationship with any of those companies.
The ingredients are simple and few. The process is not complicated. From mise en place to finished mini muffins takes less than an hour. And the results are delectable. Don’t worry if your batter gets a bit wonky looking, if the tops of the unbaked batter looks uneven, or you don’t fill the mini muffin liners equally. The batter will be fine, the mini muffins will puff up during baking, and if they’re not all the same – that’s no crime.
Tips for Making Orange Marmalade Mini Muffins
- Use the right flour and sugar. The recipe calls for cake flour and superfine (bar) sugar. They are generally available and give the mini muffins a nice texture. If possible use them. If you prefer not to buy them, make them yourself. Here are DIY cake flour and superfine sugar instructions. Also, don’t skimp on the butter and marmalade. I had real Irish butter and good English marmalade, so I used them. You might not have those ingredients, but whatever you use, make sure they are good enough to enjoy on their own.
- Follow your instincts (& your experience level) when adding marmalade. I call for much more marmalade than the original recipe. And I offer an instruction that yields a pretty top and a moist bottom, but may be more complicated than you want to follow. Do what feels right to you. If that means putting all the marmalade into the batter, rather than following my suggestion, go for it.
- Don’t overmix. These are muffins so they only require a light mixing once you add the flour. This keeps the texture open and airy, rather than dense.
Orange Marmalade Mini Muffins
These delightful two-bite treats work for a St. Patrick's Day party spread, a brunch, or a snack. Easy to prepare, they follow the muffin theme, with a delicate and tasty result.
- 1 & 1/3 cup cake flour 6 oz/175 g
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher or sea salt large pinch
- 1/2 cup superfine (castor) sugar 3 oz/85 g
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature 2 oz/55 g
- 3-4 tablespoons orange marmalade, divided 2-2 & 2/3 oz/60-80 g. See note below about coarse cut marmalade.
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 & 1/2-3 fl oz milk, preferably whole 75 ml
Preheat the oven to 350° F /180° C.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and 2-3 tablespoons of marmalade. Mix again until the ingredients are combined. Then add the milk and mix again. Finally, add the flour and mix just until no more raw flour is visible. When adding the flour, you might mix with a spatula. At the end, give a few turns with a spatula to catch any flour that stuck to the bowl.
Put the batter into the mini muffin cups using the two teaspoons. If desired, add a bit of marmalade to the top of each muffin before baking (it will fall to the bottom of the muffin) and then again after the muffins have baked for 10 minutes. The second topping – added after the muffins are half baked, will stay on top as pictured in mine. Alternatively, add the bit of marmalade only once (either just before baking or after 10 minutes) and if you want, add a bit more marmalade to the batter.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until the mini muffin tops turn golden brown. Let the mini muffins rest in the muffin pan for about 5 minutes before gently removing them to a wire rack to cool completely.
If your marmalade is coarse cut, use a teaspoon or a butter knife to make sure any chunks of orange rind are cut into small dice. I schmooshed the marmalade out on a white cutting board to check for large pieces. The marmalade may not look pretty when it’s all spread out like this, but it’s a quick way to check that no big pieces wreak havoc in your mini muffins.