While I don’t enjoy the act of traveling, sometimes I can’t stifle the desire to go somewhere. It’s not the cities and all the magnificent sites, restaurants, and shopping they have to offer that makes me steer clear of traveling. It’s the hotels, flying or driving, and the whole being away from home for an extended period of time that doesn’t appeal to me and pretty much freaks me out. Seeing photos, hearing about others people’s travels, or reading about cities almost makes me forget about those bad things, pack my bags, and head out the door. But I don’t. Maybe that will change one day. I’m not sure if I hope it does or not, for the time being it doesn’t much matter, as that day of change doesn’t even seem to be on my radar.
So, when that desire won’t go away, I look at more pictures, watch more TV shows about various cities domestic and abroad, and sometimes I head to the kitchen to make something that reminds me of somewhere else. Something that if I close my eyes and simply taste the flavors I’ve created I’m no longer sitting in my house, but somewhere far, far away. Those are good moments, moments of perfection.
These Grape and Olive Oil muffins are one of those moments. I created them after seeing olive oil cakes all over the Internet and being intrigued. I love olive oil and cook with it all the time, so baking with it seemed interesting, though even I wasn’t sure it would turn out well. It turned out great! The muffins are incredibly moist with that amazing fruity olive oil flavor. I use Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil and highly recommend it because some olive oils are fruitier than others, and therefore more conducive to baking than others. I can say with certainty this one is perfect for baking. Then there are the juicy grapes, whose sweet juices seep into much of the muffin. I like red grapes in these muffins, though I’m not sure why. The best are actually the globe grapes available closer to Christmas. They have to be seeded, but the effort is totally worth it. All of this is complemented by toasted walnuts. Together the flavors are a match made in heaven.
With every bite, every time I whip up a batch of these easy to make muffins, I am transported to Italy or Greece. The sun shining down on me, looking out on clear blue water, seeing the glory of whatever town or city I happen to be imagining, enjoying the culture, being free of responsibilities, obligations, and commitments. Then the bite is chewed, my eyes opened, the trip over. But there is another one just around the corner.
So if you need a break from the world, or just a really delicious breakfast, make these muffins. Italy is only a couple of mixing bowls away.
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 large eggs
- Zest and juice of 1 orange
- 2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
- ½ cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
- Line 10 cups in a muffin tin with paper liners. It is important to do this or the muffins will fall apart from the weight of the grapes. I like 10 large muffins, but the tops spread over the pan. If you do not want this to happen, make 11 or 12 smaller muffins, but I enjoy the tops of the muffins, which get kind of crispy. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl stir together sugar, orange zest, and oil. When fully incorporated, add the eggs and mix to combine. Add the flour mixture to the oil mixture and stir to combine. You will have a thick, cookie dough like batter. Add the grapes and walnuts, mixing until evenly distributed in batter. The batter will still likely be thick. Add as much orange juice as it takes to have a thick muffin or cake like batter. It will probably take the whole orange, but depends on the juiciness of the grapes.
- Using a regular sized ice cream scoop, scoop the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 25-35 minutes, rotating halfway through if necessary, until a toothpick comes out with only a few moist crumbs on it. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days, or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 4 months. Thaw at room temperature for several hours or in a 350 degree F oven for 15-20 minutes.