Christmas Morning Muffins - grain free

You've probably noticed that I haven't posted much around here for a pretty long time. Things are busy in a very good way that unfortunately prevents me from devoting time to blogging. I can't tell you about it quite yet - but I promise you will be the first to know when I get the green light.

Although busy, cooking, writing, teaching, treating and tweeting - rather than flog myself half dead with work, I have made a conscious decision to make time for myself. At first it feels like skiving, if I sit with a novel and freshly brewed pot of rooibos. I catch myself thinking that I must do this and that, racking up the tasks and chores like a shepherd's tally. The weight of unfinishedness can be paralysing when I allow it to lay heavily, sleepily over my shoulders.

Instead, I have taken up Italian. Every monday morning I cram a little work into the space between breakfast and my lesson and then sprint on my beloved road bike to screech in by the seat of my pants and pretend I am in Tuscany for 90 minutes. Mi piace studiare l'italiano.

After a year of injuries and frustration, I'm back to running again. My body sighs with relief as endorphins flood through my bloodstream to reach the parts that nothing else can reach. I like to run in the dark, under the streetlights, when the world is settling down to watch Strictly and tuck into supper. I'm running hills at last and my knees don't mind - unless I get carried away, pelting down the other side of a steep climb with my arms outstretched, a cry of joy streaming out behind like a cloud of icing sugar. 

And so comes Christmas, my most cherished time of year. Although I long for the heat of summer, my soul is warmed by the cocoon of yuletide. Cinnamon scented, twinkling days spread out before me like a picnic blanket. I have my boys and my family to keep me toasty and we can do what we will, when we want, as long as we choose. Bliss.

I like to make muffins on Christmas morning - I weigh everything out the night before and just blitz everything together when we get up. A few rounds of cards and a pot of tea later, the kitchen is filled with the scent of Christmas and our tummies are full of spicy muffin. These are grain free and lowish in sugar, to help avoid any unpleasant crashes later on.

Christmas Morning Muffins makes 7
These are dense, sticky muffins for date lovers. On cooling, they start to resemble crinkly snickerdoodle biscuits, with a craggly, mischievous, smiling face. If you want to make them look a little more festive, you could dust with icing sugar before you serve them - after all, it is Christmas! 

You can measure the syrups in dessertspoonfuls - 1 heaped = about 50g, so 2 level dessertspoons will probably get you to the right ball park and a heaped dessertspoon of greek yogurt is about right too.

90g dried, pitted dates, chopped
90g flaked almonds
80g salted butter - or coconut oil + a pinch of sea salt
60g date syrup or maple syrup or molasses + dessertspoon sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
good pinch of allspice
90g ground almonds
zest and juice of a clementine or half an orange
60g greek yogurt 
large handful of currants


  • Set the oven to 160C and put 7 muffin cases in a muffin tray. (6 without currants)
  • Blitz dates and flaked almonds to fine crumbs in a blender.
  • Add butter and blitz to combine.
  • Add date syrup, 1 egg, bicarb and spices, blitz till smooth, add the second egg and blitz again.
  • Add ground almonds, yogurt, zest and juice, blitz until smooth. It should be a soft dropping cake mix consistency - if it isn't, add a bit more juice or yogurt.
  • Stir in currants.
  • Spoon into muffin cases almost to the top as they don't rise that much. 
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes until brown, risen and firmish. Cool for 15 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Eat warm or cool - we like them cool, spreading each mouthful with Greek yogurt sweetened with a spoonful of honey.