Gingerbread Muffins

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Nothing tastes better than a warm muffin in the morning for breakfast. Especially when you’re used to just eating cold cereal. Imagine being greeted first by wafts of cinnamon and cloves, wondering where that wonderful smell is coming from (and maybe what it is), then stumbling through the darkness of your house into the bright, warm kitchen. There on the counter rests freshly baked gingerbread muffins, ready to be devoured with a cup of coffee.

Today, that was a reality (yes!). After coming across the recipe for these muffins in Nigella Lawson’s Feast, I was inspired to create this “morning experience” for my family. So I got up extra early to make sure they could enjoy some warm gingerbread muffins at 6:30 a.m., before everyone left for school and work. You bet! It wasn’t as labor intensive as you may think. Muffins are actually one of the easiest baked goods to mix up. Combine dry ingredients, combine wet ingredients, gently mix. Voila!

To streamline the entire ordeal, I measured out the dry ingredients, set out the right measuring cups/spoons/bowls and had them on “stand-by” the night before. That way all I had to do this morning was crack an egg, measure some wet ingredients, and mix. It took about 5 minutes, batter to oven, if that. If you follow the “night-before” method, remember to preheat your oven right away, so it’s nice and hot for the muffin batter. To make things even speedier, I used a pan that has small shallow squares, rather than the standard round cups to bake the muffins. The more shallow a pan is, the less time batters will take to bake. There was one flaw though: in my early morning stupor, I forgot to grease the pan. Luckily, the gingerbreads could still be coaxed out with a plastic knife, minus a few missing corners left behind in the pan.

These are perfect for this time of year and into the holiday season. They almost taste like a pumpkin muffin, but they are spicier, with notes of molasses. Of course they are still sweet enough, however, that little kids would eat them.

They have a marvelous softness, with a spongy texture, while the tops and edges are slightly chewy and shiny. Perfect gingerbread. If you wish to up the holiday cheer or add a bit of sweet-tart flavor, add some dried (or fresh) cranberries to the batter right before baking. The ingredient list looks long, but it is mostly spices.

Gingerbread Muffins (Feast by Nigella Lawson)

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup whole milk (I used 2% and they turned out fine)
  • 1/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable or corn oil
  • 4 tablespoons dark corn syrup (I used light corn syrup and it was still fine)
  • 4 tablespoons molasses

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease or line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper muffin cups. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices in a large bowl. Whisk the egg in another bowl, then add the brown sugars, making sure to break up any lumps.

Add the milk and vinegar to the egg-brown sugar mixture then measure in the oil with a tablespoon. Use the same oily spoon to add the corn syrup and molasses so they don’t stick to it. Whisk the mixture to combine and add to the flour and spices.

Stir until mixed but still fairly lumpy-the mixture may be more runny than you expect for muffins- but you need the dense stickiness of gingerbread, rather than a cakey crumb. Spoon or pour the mixture into the muffin cups and bake for about 20 minutes until the tops are dry.

Yield: 12 muffins

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