Nothing beats the Christmas Eve tradition of nutmeg and cinnamon muffins and mulled wine wafting from the kitchen. The cook hasn’t closed up shop by any means yet tonight, but I thought I’d share these aromas while I take a short break – before the next shift starts!
These are a perfect Christmas to New Year bites for breakfasts, brunches, teas and with hot chocolate afore bedtime anytime over the winter season. And they’re so useful to have around in a tin ready to offer unexpected guests on impromptu visits over Christmas. I’m off to deliver the last presents and to mull the wine…before settling in by the fire to read the original version of ‘Twas the Night before Christmas’. As my son can see St Nicholas church dome spectacularly lit up from his bedroom windows – a mere stone’s throw from our house – it’s a very appropriate read for us in our village as St Nick is our patron saint!
Happy Christmas from the Red Bistro family in Malta!
All images © Liz Ayling 2012
Recipe: Cranberry, nutmeg & cinnamon muffins
This is a basic muffin recipe so just feel free to use your own tried and tested favourite if you like and fling in the cranberries and spices. Vanilla bean seeds are ideal too, so long as you miss off the more potent spices so the vanilla notes come through. This recipe has a nice light touch to the sponge. Wonderful eaten warm from the oven and served with mulled wine so you get a double whammy of those hot spice scents in the kitchen!
Makes 12 regular size
180 plain flour
two and half tsp baking powder
1 large egg
60g soft brown or demerara sugar
50 g unsalted butter, melted gently
60ml milk (perhaps add a bit more if mix too stiff – depends on egg size)
1/2 tsp each of grated nutmeg and cinnamon
100g dried cranberries
You will need: papers cases – either fairy cake size or petite ones (avoid large muffin tulips though)
Pre-heat oven to 200°C.
Sift all the dry ingredients together except the cranberries. Lightly beat the egg together with the milk then whisk in the melted butter. Pour the milk-egg-butter mix into a well in the flour and stir in quickly but thoroughly ensuring no dry floury bits are left. The mix can however remain lumpy in texture for muffins unlike the smooth mix you’d get with a regular sponge cake. Tip in the dried cranberries and fold in evenly – again don’t be tempted to beat in. Fill paper cases – ideally resting cases in muffin tins to help them keep their shape. Sprinkle on some extra demerara sugar and a grating of nutmeg. Bake for 15-20 minutes, checking at 15 mins. Muffins are ready when golden.