Hurricane Ida scuttled along toward Pennsylvania. Rain was coming. I knew we needed something cheery, homey, and happy to offset what was sure to be a gloomy Gus of a morning. Muffins! I reached for The Buttercup Bake Shop Cookbook by Jennifer Appel. Orange Muffins with Glaze seemed like the perfect solution for what could potentially become a no-good, very bad day. And I was right.
Use the Table of Contents below to skip to the recipe.
- Just a Random Rainy Wednesday
- I Choose Orange Muffins with Glaze
- Magnolia Bakery Cookbooks by Jennifer Appel and Allysa Torey
- A Word on Shortening
- Buttercup Bakery Cookbook
- Breakfast Muffins Perk Up Our Morning
- Orange Glazed Muffins Recipe
- Orange Glazed Muffins
- Cookbooks Featuring Jennifer Appel
- Related Resources:
Just a Random Rainy Wednesday
As I write this, it has already been raining for hours. The remnants of Hurricane Ida ensure it will keep raining for most of the day in my part of Pennsylvania, and maybe into the night. It’s also a school day and, I might add, the first school day we’ve had where two kids have to be in two different school buildings by the same 7:45 AM start time. Every 6th grader (and up) kid in town is a walker (even though we live a full mile away from the middle school), so we don’t have busses. Our boys normally bike to school, but not today. I wasn’t sure how long it was going to take to get through the drop-off line, so the oldest had to get up earlier too, in order to fit in showers, breakfast, teeth brushing, and leave by 7:15, hit both schools, and hopefully have time to spare (or else there would be freaking out and gnashing of teeth). With all the unknowns hanging over my head, I did not wake up in the best of moods.
My alarm went off at 5:29 AM, 32 minutes earlier than usual (and I need every bit of that 32 minutes of beauty sleep), followed shortly by my cat alarm (otherwise known as my old girl kitty who starts talking and leading me out of the room immediately after the alarm sounds). After stumbling around, and somehow making my way downstairs, I got to work baking muffins.
I was so glad I planned ahead the night before. Okay, I’m glad now. At the time, I wasn’t really thinking much of anything. See? These muffins are so easy to make, you can make them half asleep!
I Choose Orange Muffins with Glaze
Picture it: 9 PM, the night before, our house. It’s nearing the end of our day. I’m in our library, rifling through muffin cookbooks, opening, closing, and setting aside potential options. I didn’t know what I wanted other than it had to be something with a shorter bake time and capable of a little advance prep. Oh, and it had to be something I hadn’t made before too. That’s not too tall an order, right? Right.
The slim, blue spine of The Buttercup Bake Shop Cookbook jumped out at me. I had picked it up recently and hadn’t done much more than the “Do I need this? flip through, something that will soon change as we get into colder, sit and rot inside kind of weather. Would a cookbook with a cupcake on the front have something suitable for breakfast in it?
I knew it wouldn’t be a cookbook with ONLY cupcakes, since that wasn’t a part of the title. Cover art is just cover art. But, breakfast? My husband is all for “breakfast” cookies and “breakfast” brownies. When our boys were little, and they’d catch him eating something that looked like dessert in the morning, he’d tell them he was eating a “breakfast brownie” as though it were something different from any other brownie. It worked. They didn’t ask for one, probably assuming it had something to do with coffee. Kids are silly. Now, the oldest male in this house will eat a brownie or cake or cookies with or without morning coffee and doesn’t bother hiding it.
Digging into The Buttercup Bake Shop Cookbook led me to the discovery of two things. One, that the author is the coauthor of the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook, and formerly the co-owner of the Magnolia Bakery; and two, that there is a short chapter featuring the kind of food I was looking for.
Yes, that Magnolia Bakery.
Magnolia Bakery Cookbooks by Jennifer Appel and Allysa Torey
Magnolia Bakery began as a New York thing, said to have started the cupcake craze. Remember that? They say they had leftover cake batter and, on a whim, popped it into muffin tins, and kept selling cupcakes. Even when I traveled around Indiana small towns for Little Indiana, I stumbled upon cupcake shops here and there. Cupcakes guaranteed good photos, so that always made me happy. And, you know, the taste-testing that went along with it didn’t hurt anything either.
In case you didn’t know, Jennifer Appel and Allysa Torey began Magnolia Bakery together in 1996, but squabbles over expansion plans led Jennifer Appel to move along in 1999 and start The Buttercup Bake Shop. You can find Appel’s bakery in four New York locations: Midtown, Midtown East, Downtown, and Greenwich Village.
The Buttercup Bake Shop has been featured in plenty of major publications and earned its fair share of awards and honors including:
- Best Cupcake in NYC 2002, New York Press
- Best Pie, Time Out New York
- Small Business Award, Our Town East Side Magazine
- Signature Benchmark Award, NAWBO NYC
- Best New Bakery, Time Out New York
Somehow, everyone seems to leave out the fact that Jennifer Appel is a mom. This 2008 interview with Hofstra University in an “Alumna of the Month, June 2008” article shared: “I work full time and am a mother of a 4 year old – balance is difficult! But my husband and I now work together, which eases my workload a bit, and we both respect each other’s need for alone time as well as shared parenting. We’re also diligent about “date night,” so we always try to get a babysitter for Saturday night.”
Date night. The sanity saver of parents everywhere. You know what else is a sanity saver? Make-ahead components like what you’ll find in these orange muffins with glaze. We’ll get to that in a moment or feel free to skip right down to the recipe. Your call.
A Word on Shortening
Buttercup Bake Shop – The big idea with Donny Deutsch
When asked about the secret to the best baked goods on The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch (in what looks to be the early days or years of the bakery), Jennifer Appel had a response that mirrors my own opinion about baked items (and likely yours, too): “. . . .and to me, the best secret in the world about good baked goods is…butter. You just gotta use butter.” Amen to that.
Funny though that I managed to choose a recipe using shortening. That sits just fine with me, as I am not taking time to deal with softening butter on a busy morning. Moderation is the key to all things, I do believe. You can always sub in butter for shortening if you need to, but the texture and flavor will change. In this instance, I’m a-okay with shortening.
Butter made in the United States contains approximately 16 percent water; shortening has none. During baking, water turns to steam, which aids in the development of gluten. If you use shortening instead, you’ll have less gluten, and therefore softer cakes, and cookies that remain soft and cakey even when they’ve cooled down.Jessica Reed, Just Bake with Shortening. It’s Fine, Taste, Accessed September 2, 2021.
Remember how you don’t want to overmix muffins or they develop gluten and turn all rubbery and icky? Yeah. Shortening for the win there. Newsflash from 2007: Crisco changed its formula to meet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration criteria allowing any products with less than 0.5 grams trans fat per serving to list zero grams trans fat in its nutrition facts.
So, yes, Crisco has a small amount of artificial trans fat. It’s not enough for me to worry. You aren’t me, so if it bothers you, sub out with what you want, and let us know how it goes. Just please, save the hate mail. You do you.
Buttercup Bakery Cookbook
Anyway, this cookbook does include recipes for items found in the bakery. The author includes short little summaries above each recipe, so you’ll know right away if an item is a family recipe, a friend’s favorite, or a Buttercup Bake Shop bestseller.
Basically, it’s about good, homemade baking. Chapters include: Cakes; Cookies, Bars, and Square; Pies, Crisps, and Cobblers; Seasonal Desserts; Puddings and Custards; and Fillings and Frostings. I was most interested in this chapter: The Breakfast Basket: Quick Breads, Biscuits, Coffee Cakes, Buns, and Muffins.
It is by no means huge, seeing as the whole 7.38 x 0.7 x 9.25 inch cookbook is only 125 pages long with some eighty recipes. Not quite a dozen items fill the chapter, but that’s enough when they all look like things my family would bake and enjoy. Bonus: I didn’t have any issue keeping the page open as I baked as can happen with some cookbook formats.
Breakfast Muffins Perk Up Our Morning
The descriptions for Orange Glazed Muffins read, “A delightful, light-as-a-feather muffin that’s equally good with or without the glaze.” Sold! I’m itching to make the Raspberry Cream Cheese Buns on the opposite page. They are made in a muffin tin. That’s going to happen—and soon. I can’t resist anything with raspberry in it.
While I know people say you can store muffin batter in the fridge overnight, our fridge was full. Plus, I wanted to make sure they turned out. What if? As a new-to-me muffin recipe, it needs to be great the first time around. Otherwise, it will be voted off the island, and never made again.
That’s how we roll. Life is too short to waste on recipes that don’t fit us. Spoiler alert: This recipe fits us.
My big plan: Set out all the things the night before: The muffin tin and baking spray, the extract, the containers of sugar and shortening (yes, shortening), and the multiple bowls I would need. I could then mix together the wet ingredients the following morning. The only problem? The recipe used orange zest.
I knew I didn’t want to futz with a sharp zester while half-asleep. I had to zest the orange that night. What is the best way to store orange zest? The info below pertains to lemon zest, but consider them interchangeable.
We stored zest for a week in zipper-lock bags three ways: in the pantry, in the fridge, and in the freezer. We then compared a lemon pound cake made with fresh zest to cakes made with zest from each of the different storage methods. The cakes made with refrigerated and pantry-stored zest lacked a citrus punch, but the frozen-zest cake tasted almost as good as fresh, despite a slightly washed-out color. The -bottom line: Frozen zest is suitable for baking but, since its color fades, not as a garnish. Zest can be frozen for up to 3 weeks before its flavor begins to diminish.Storing Lemon Zest: What is the Best Way to Store Lemon Zest for Future Use?, Cook’s Illustrated, Accessed September 1, 2021.
Zesting isn’t hard. It’s kind of fun, actually. You’ve got to have the confidence to just scrape the orange skin against the sharp blade and rub it across the zester just enough to take out the orange areas, while leaving the bitter white (pith) areas and leaving the flesh on your hands intact. Avoid being too energetic and overzealous.
Orange Glazed Muffins Recipe
Okay, okay. I gotcha. You don’t care to read my life story. I get it. Do you want to read the history of muffins and quick breads or at least how they were invented? Yes? Then head to that link. Well, after you take a look at the orangey-goodness below. Enjoy.
Orange Glazed Muffins
- 2 1/2 Cups Flour
- 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 3/4 teaspoon Salt
- 8 Tablespoons Shortening (I used original sticks)
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 2 Large Eggs
- 1 Cup Orange Juice
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 2 Tablespoons Grated Orange Zest
- 1 Cup Finely Chopped Pecans Optional
- 1 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar
- 2 Tablespoons Orange Juice or Heavy Cream or Milk I used Orange Juice for a little punch of extra flavor, use more if necessary
- 1 Cup Coarsely Chopped Pecans Optional
Make the Orange Muffins
- Heat oven 375*.
- Grease a standard muffin tin and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, and Salt.
- For faster mixing, cream Shortening and Sugar for a minute using a handheld electric mixer or by hand.
- Beat in Eggs and Vanilla Extract.
- Add dry ingredients alternately with the Orange Juice. Mix, DON'T beat, the ingredients. When a few streaks of flour are showing, add in the Orange Zest and the Pecans, if using.
- Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until light golden brown, a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs, and the muffins centers lightly spring back when touched. They should look like something you want to eat.
- Cool the muffins before glazing. The recipe states you should wait 20 minutes. I'm not sure if I was close to that or not. If your muffins are too warm when you glaze them, the glaze will melt and drip right off of them. You don't want that. Check them after 10 minutes and see if they still feel atomic.
Make the Glaze
- Combine Powdered Sugar and Orange Juice (or the liquid of your choice). Using a spoon is fast enough.
- Drizzle the glaze over the cooled muffins and top with a sprinkle of Pecans, per the original recipe, or use a little coarse sugar for some bling (per my own Big Idea). Really, though, it isn't necessary to use a garnish, or even the glaze, though it does add a little something-something.
Cookbooks Featuring Jennifer Appel
I know there are people who love rainy days (like my husband). I hate a cold rain. I prefer 80* and up, lots of sun, and the occasional breeze. So, I flip on all the kitchen lights, and blast away the darkness. On (less rushed) gloomy mornings, I light a candle I keep in the middle of the island. It’s where the kids sit while they eat breakfast, and it adds a nice, cozy glow. Keep the homey touch going by offering up something from these other Jennifer Appel works.