The allure of muffins is deceptively simple. They’re not cupcakes, so you can rationalize their presence at the breakfast table. They require less commitment and fussiness than a full-sized cake. You can experiment with different flours and other ingredients with well-placed confidence that the portion-controlled batter will rise, and the results will be edible, if not downright delicious.
Take these ginger muffins, for example:
A friend of mine adapted a ginger muffin recipe to celebrate the feast of St. Ninian (also known as Kentigern in England and Wales, and Mungo in Scotland). He made the muffins vegan, and wondered if he should have added cayenne powder to give them more of a kick. I brought the butter and milk back into the recipe, but left out the egg. (I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch to make the recipe gluten-free, either, especially if you rely upon a fabulous all-purpose non-beany gluten-free flour like Better Batter.) I also chopped up a bit of crystalized ginger and added ginger juice I had on hand. The results of the recipe were tender, spicy, and sweet without being overly so. I should have added some freshly-grated ginger, and will probably do so next time. For now, here is the recipe I used:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dried ginger
In another bowl, whisk together:
3/4 cup milk (nondairy okay)
1/2 cup butter (ditto)
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup unrefined sugar
Optional: 2 teaspoons of ginger juice (if you happen to have it)
Mix wet with dry, and then stir in 1/2 cup chopped candied ginger. I used the kind that wasn’t coated with granulated sugar.
Pour into greased muffin tins or ungreased silicone cups and bake approx 20 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. I was able to get 13 “medium-sized” muffins out of the batter. I had every intention of freezing half of the recipe results, but word got around, and before I knew it, the ginger muffins were gone.
-Farida Dowler makes embroidered felt dolls for the Etsy shop Alkelda and maintains Saints and Spinners, a storytelling and music blog. Her favorite recipes are ones that allow her to read science-fiction in the kitchen while the concoctions bubble or bake.