Special Orange Muffins

In the past five years, I…

1. went to college.

yes kids. this is what college is like all the time.

2. came home from summer school to find part of my house burned down.

some bowls and stuff got melted together. all the people and dogs were okay!

3. dated a pretty cool dude.  had a pretty messy, dramatic breakup with said dude.  …and became friends with him again.

4. lived in Switzerland.

5. learned that I do not like rum and coke but that I do like tequila and whiskey.

6. was accepted to medical school.

7. learned how to run (well, not learned, per say, but you know what I mean).

8. sold a lot of bras.

9. successfully convinced the Weatherman that we should be in love.

10. got a tattoo.

Golly jeepers Batman!  If that list doesn’t impress everyone at my five-year high school reunion this weekend, I don’t know what will.  Seriously.  Popular girls, I’m looking at you.  I know it’s only been five years, and even though I’m cuter than I was in high school, you’re probs still cuter than me.  And boys probs still like you better.  That is fine.  Five years is more than enough for me to get over that and be happy with my accomplishments. (see above.  Yes all 10 of them.)

These are my friends from high school on graduation night.  They are the best:

Hooray!  I can’t wait to see their pretty faces.  Really we spent four years of high school laughing, getting yelled at for uniform violations, and eating underbaked chocolate chip cookies from the cafeteria.  I mean…isn’t that what everyone does in high school?

To mentally prepare myself for this event, I made some orange muffins.  Actually, they are “special” orange muffins because they were an attempt to recreate a childhood breakfast treat of the same name.  What made those muffins special?  The fact that they came from Tom Thumb, a grocery store.  I kid you not.  I couldn’t get enough of those muffins, and when Dad put them on my little breakfast plate, it meant I was defs in for a good day.

I like the version I created even better 🙂  They are very orange-y, and very moist, and a little sweet.  You can sprinkle sparkly sugar on top or wait for them to cool and smear (drizzle?) some lemon glaze over their cute round heads.  Up to you because I like both versions.  They’re super easy too.  It would also be easy to eat most of the batter before baking the muffins, but you shouldn’t do that.

I adapted a recipe for “Essence of Orange Muffins” from Rebecca Rather’s Pastry Queen cookbook and made a few changes…swapped yogurt for sour cream and oil for butter…added more orange zest, chopped fresh orange, and little almond extract.  Yumstown for breakfast or afternoon snackies.

Special Orange Muffins

Makes about 16 regular-sized muffins or 8 mondo muffins

1 cup milk (I usually try to use at least 2% in baking, but I only had skim and it worked fine)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup plain yogurt (nonfat works fine)
2 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 cup granulated sugar
zest of 1 large orange
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I’d be interested to know if anyone tries with some whole wheat subbed in!)
1 1/2 TBS baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large orange, segmented and chopped (zest first, then chop.  Sometimes I forget these things.)

extra granulated or sparkling sugar for sprinkling, if desired

1 cup powdered sugar
juice of 1 lemon (both for optional glaze)

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF with a rack in the middle position.  Grease cups in a muffin tin, or line with muffin liners.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the milk, orange juice, yogurt, eggs, oil, and almond extract.  Whisk together until blended and set aside.
3. Place the sugar and orange zest in a large bowl and rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers until the sugar is fragrant and a uniform color.  This really helps incorporate the flavor of the zest into the muffins.

zesty sugar

Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk to combine.  Pour the milk mixture over the dry ingredients and stir together gently using a rubber spatula, just until combined.  Fold in the orange pieces.
4. Scoop or spoon batter into prepared muffin tin, filling each cup almost full.  If using, sprinkle sugar over the tops of the muffins. Bake muffins for about 20 to 25 minutes, until pale golden.  The tops should spring back when gently pressed.  Let muffins cool for a minute or two, then gently lift each muffin and tilt it so it’s resting in the muffin cup almost on its side (this lets them cool without continuing to bake).  Allow muffins to cool in pans just until cool enough to handle, then transfer to a wire rack.

5. To make the optional glaze, stir together powdered sugar and lemon juice until combined.  Drizzle over cooled muffins.  Muffins will keep in an airtight container for 3 days.  They also freeze well (unglazed)…just wrap each individually and freeze in a freezer-safe ziploc.  You can keep them frozen for a month.

Recipe adapted from Rebecca Rather’s The Pastry Queen

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!  I’ll be back post-reunion, hopefully with some juicy gossip about so-and-so in my possession. Thanks for reading, happy baking!



  1. That’s a pretty impressive list of things you’ve accomplished in 5 years…screw the popular girls! 🙂 I just found your blog, and am loving reading through your recent posts and recipes…everything looks delicious!

    1. taylor –
      so glad you found the blog, and i’m happy to hear you’re enjoying it! thanks for reading 🙂
      ~ hannah

    1. they really did taste like those amazing muffins you used to buy us at tom thumb…except better!

  2. Man, these were full of win! *grin* They’d be even better with the glaze, I’m sure. Thanks for the keeper recipe!
    Hope your reunion went swimmingly ~

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