Friday, September 16, 2011

St. Ninian's Day Ginger Muffins

I'm fascinated by legends of the saints in a similar vein to the Greek and Norse myths of the gods and goddesses. (I'm a fan-girl of both Athena and Hera, and had I been Paris presented with the golden apple, I would have had to employ stalling tactics.) The saints I like best are the obscure and apocryphal ones. Take St. Ninian, for example. He's a 4th or 5th century saint who was supposed to have been a missionary among the Pictish people of Scotland. Not much is known about him, but there are a lot of churches dedicated to him.

St. Ninian came to my attention today when a friend on Facebook announced he was making ginger muffins to commemorate the feast day.

"What do ginger muffins have to do with St. Ninian?" you might ask. It's a fair question. I am in favor of scrutiny and the scientific method, but when it comes to ginger muffins, I get a little distracted. My answer is that I have no idea, but I'm shameless enough to use the feast-day as a catalyst for the creation of ginger muffins.

You can the muffins today to celebrate being alive, or make them in the future to celebrate being alive another day. If you don't like ginger, you may like these muffins. Then again, you might be pleasantly surprised. For example, I generally don't care for eggplant outside of its baba ganouj disguise, but there is one restaurant in Seattle that makes grilled eggplant taste so good that I order it every time I'm there.

My friend modified the recipe from Evelyn Birge Vitz's A Continual Feast (about the original recipe, he wrote, "The results [were] penitential in nature --- dry and unappetizing") and I modified it further. Here's what I came up with:

Ginger Muffins

Whisk together:

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 (because I had it on hand)

Mix wet with dry, and then stir in 1/2 cup chopped candied ginger. I used the kind that wasn't covered in sugar.

Pour into greased muffin tins and bake approx 20 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. I got 10 muffins out of this recipe, but I think I could stretch it to 12 next time.


jama said...

These sound yummy, Farida! Will have to try making some now that Fall is here with cooler days and it'll be nice to turn the oven on more often :).

Lone Star Ma said...


tanita davis said...

Ah! My (kinda) Saint! He's called Kentigern in England and Wales, and Mungo here in Scotland, from the bastardized (aka Brythonic) Welsh for fy nghu meaning "my dear(one)." He was apparently the sixth apostle (whose?) and started the church in Scotland.

He's lovely, and depicted like St. Francis with a bird and a fish (and a bell and a ring and a tree, DO NOT ASK) and isn't penitential and dry at all, normally, so well done to you and your friend to making the muffins a bit better!!!

I have a fresh root of ginger in the fridge and (now that I've blown off the Yolen Luncheon I was supposed to attend) nothing but time....

Lisa Song said...

Every time I hear St. Ninian's, I think of the church in the Redwall series...come to think of it, I'm sure the abbey mice would've loved these ginger muffins too!

Saints and Spinners said...

Jama: I'm feeling the same way about the oven. Let me know if you add something fun to the muffins. I am a fan of muffins. They are quite forgiving of my various experiments and blunders, and don't require as much commitment as, say, cake.

LSM: They certainly were yummy. I wish you could have had some.

Tanita: I'm glad Ninnian/Mungo/Kentigern gets so much STUFF. He'd make a great action figure. Speaking of fresh ginger root, that's what the muffins need... a triple-ginger onslaught.

Saints and Spinners said...

Lisa: Hello! Thanks for stopping by. I enjoyed meeting you at KidLitCon. Those abbey mice had a whole cookbook, did they not?