It’s that time of year again. You can recognise it by the extreme excitement about Christmas yet also horrible dread at the upcoming essay deadlines. You’re stuck in the library, on your own, listening to cheesy Christmas songs, but all you really want to be doing is chugging the mulled wine, stuffing yourself with mince pies whilst watching Love Actually with your friends and shopping online for hilarious secret santa gifts.
Why not make yourself a batch of these muffins to take into the library every day? The festive flavours add a touch of magical Christmas to endless essay writing, and even if you don’t like mincemeat you can take it out and still be left with delicious muffins. I find baking such a wonderful destresser (there’s something very relaxing about not having to think at all about your essay for one and a half hours), and the muffins are fantastic essay treats to eat once you pass certain goals for word count (e.g., writing the title, finishing the first sentence). Be careful not to take out all your essay stress on the batter though- the dry and liquid ingredients should be mixed together as little as possible.
And, for those of you reading this from the library, I leave you with this (warning, there is terrible language in this video, you might want to put your headphones in!):
This is based on a basic recipe in Ruhlman, M. (2009), Ratio (New York).
Clementine and Mincemeat Muffins
Yield: 10 muffins
4 clementines (or 2 oranges)
225g (8 oz) plain flour
140g (5oz) caster sugar
pinch of salt
2 tsp. baking powder
110g (4 oz) butter, melted
100 ml milk
4 tbsp mincemeat (optional)
(1) Preheat the oven to 180° C, and arrange the muffin cases in a muffin/cupcake tin.
(2) Zest the clementines (or oranges) by grating them on the tiny holes of a grater (but make sure you don’t grate them too vigorously, otherwise they’ll disintegrate when you try to juice them). Juice the fruit (you need 100 ml juice so you may not need to juice all of the fruit).
(3) Put the butter on a low heat to melt, keeping an eagle eye on it to make sure it doesn’t brown.
(4) Meanwhile, sift the flour into a bowl, and mix in the rest of the dry ingredients- the clementine zest, nutmeg, sugar, salt and baking powder.
(5) Beat the eggs in a jug. Add the milk, and the butter once it has cooled a little. Finally, beat in 100-120 ml of the clementine juice.
(6) Gently stir the liquid from the jug into the dry ingredients. The best muffins come when you don’t overstir the ingredients- be careful! Add enough liquid until you get a lovely ‘dropping’ consistency, where it drops nicely off your spoon- you may not need all of it.
(7) Put 2 tablespoons of batter into each case (it will make about 10) until they’re about two thirds full. Put a generous teaspoon of mincemeat in each one, pushing it into the middle with the tip of the spoon. The batter should come up to a few millimetres from the edge of the case- put a little more batter in if you need to
(8) Put them in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean (aside from the micemeat). Leave to cool for a few minutes in the tin before you take them out. Enjoy whilst still warm from the oven with a lovely cup of tea.