I’ve never felt that Spring was my favorite season, given the colder climates I’ve lived in most of my life. Spring used to be about wildly varying weather patterns (snow in May!), clumps of dirty, grey, melting snow, sand and dirt on the roads. But this year it’s different. Spring in Northern California is pretty spectacular! After a wet winter, everything is green and color abounds in the landscape. We are discovering that some of our trees and shrubs have brilliant and showy flowers at this time of the year, and the fruit tree blossoms have a heavenly fragrance. And the roses…
There are shades of red and pink, and some white roses. They all have subtly different perfumes. The apple and citrus blossoms fill the air with scent, and the bees are very busy traveling between all of them.
Time will tell if the apricots and peaches survive the onslaught of hungry deer and squirrels, but I am hopeful. The Meyer lemon tree continues to bloom and produce fruit continuously. I am so fortunate to live in this lovely place; it’s like our own private paradise.
I baked some simple muffins today. Bright orange zest and juice in the batter, and a little pocket of sweet strawberry baked right into the middle, speaks to me with the flavors of springtime. This might just be my new favorite season of the year.
Bake up a batch of these lovelies and enjoy them for breakfast or snacks. They are best eaten the same day as baked, but you can freeze them for future meals and snacks. Wrap them individually and send them off in a lunchbox or share them with friends and neighbors. They’ll all be happy you did.
Springtime, and Orange-Strawberry Muffins
- 8 ounces all-purpose flour
- 3 ounces granulated sugar
- A scant teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 2 large eggs
- 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
- Strawberry jam or preserves , about 10 to 12 teaspoons
Preheat the oven to 350°F, with a rack in the middle position. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners or spray with baking spray.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, orange juice, eggs, and melted, cooled butter. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the milk and egg mixture. Add the grated zest. Whisk gently just until the ingredients are combined and there is no dry flour at the bottom of the bowl.
Fill each muffin cup half-full with batter, top with a teaspoon of strawberry jam, then fill almost to the top with the remaining batter. You will get about 10 muffins. Fill any empty cups in the pan halfway with water. Place the pan in the oven and bake the muffins for about 30 minutes, or until risen, golden brown in color, and a tester comes out clean. Let the muffin tin cool on a rack for a few minutes, then remove the muffins to cool completely. Take care not to eat them straight from the oven, the strawberry filling will be very hot!
Store any leftover muffins, wrapped tightly, at room temperature for a day or two, or freeze them for future use.