I did my usual and made some substitutions. I know -- the advice is always to follow the recipe exactly as written the first time, then modify according to taste. Well... no. I don't usually make anything more than once, so it's gotta be NOW...
According to the King Arthur Flour recipe page, these muffins are "intended to mimic the flavor of Italy's classic Christmas bread, panettone. They're flavored with Fiori di Sicilia — 'Flowers of Sicili' — traditionally used to flavor panettone." I didn't have it, but I had this mystery bottle of Princess Cake & Cookie bakery emulsion:
I thought it tasted similar to panettone -- a bit citrusy -- so I used it. I'm not a big fan of white flour, and I usually use at least half whole wheat in my baking. But the more delicate in texture and/or flavor something is, the less I feel it can handle whole wheat flour, and that included this recipe. Nonetheless, I used 3/4 cup white whole wheat. And since I didn't have the coarse sugar, I sprinkled on some nonpareils -- these muffins look a bit naked undecorated.
I had an interesting discussion in another forum about cake enhancer, particularly King Arthur's. Cake enhancer is intended to extend the life of the product, and can be made of natural products or chemicals, or a combination. I don't know what KA makes theirs out of, and I don't see the need to add any weird artificial ingredient to my baking, so I left it out.
I used these silicone "baking cups" for the first time, and found they didn't quite sit down in the muffin tins. That created a bit of an insulating air layer, which left the bottoms pale and spongy. For better success, I should probably use them on a baking sheet. There is a toasty ring around each muffin where the cup met the tin. The batter did fill the cups "quite full", and the muffins didn't rise a whole lot after that -- just another 1/2" or so, though I got some great cracking in the tops!
Here's what I used:
1 1/2 cups diced, dried fruit: golden raisins, mango, pears, Rainier cherries, orange-flavored cranberries
1/4 spiced rum
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
2/3 cup milk
non-pareils, for decoration
Mix the dried fruit and liquid of your choice in a bowl. Cover the bowl, and let the fruit sit overnight. Or speed up the process by heating fruit and liquid in the microwave till very hot, then cooling to lukewarm/room temperature, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a standard muffin tin, or line with 12 paper or silicone muffin cups, and grease the cups with non-stick vegetable oil spray; this will ensure that they peel off the muffins nicely. (I did not grease the silicone cups and did not have a problem.) In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, beating to combine. Stir in the flavoring and vanilla. Whisk together the baking powder, salt, and flour; stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined. Stir in the fruit, with any remaining liquid. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan, filling the cups quite full. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins generously with the nonpareils. Bake the muffins for 18 to 25 minutes, or until they're a sunny gold color on top, and a cake tester inserted into the middle of one of the center muffins comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for a couple of minutes, or until you can handle them. Transfer them to a rack to cool.
Recipe: Panettone Muffins via King Arthur Flour