I am a winter girl, which is easy for me to say in Israel where winter barely lasts two months. It’s not like I have to sit through blizzards in sub zero degree temperatures while the sun rises for ten minutes a day. Here the winter is lovely, everything is green, the flowers begin to bloom and the overcast skies keep most people indoors. So for a short while before the hiking trails get clogged with walkers and the hills quickly turn from green to dusty yellow everything looks like the pastures of Scotland. It’s June in Israel and the weather is going from hot to stifling, covering the country like hot melted wax. Like a tired toddler, the heat’s clingy hands are persistent and will not relinquish until the first breezes of autumn. So while other’s dream of sandy white beaches and clear blue skies, I want only drizzly, cloudy and foggy weather, eating fish in chips at the local pub, or perhaps ginger lemon muffins.
Here is an easy recipe, which reminds me of afternoon tea in England, preferably in a drafty old house with thick dark curtains to keep the light out, especially the blinding midday Middle Eastern sun.
Ginger Lemon Muffins
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) most probably originated in India where there is the most genetic variability and was already introduced to England from the time of the Roman Empire. In the Middle East ginger is usually used in its powdered form, in stews and to flavor coffee.
40 grams fresh ginger, washed but not peeled
3/4 cups + 3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest (from two lemons)
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
125 grams butter, softened
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 180 Celsius. Mince the ginger with the skin (should make about 1/3 cup). In a small pot add the ginger and 1/4 cup sugar and heat on low for two- three minutes. Mix until the sugar is dissolved but not caramelized. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Add three tablespoons of sugar to the lemon zest. Add the lemon mixture to the ginger.
- In a large bowl, sift the flour, salt and baking powder. (I never sift and it comes out fine, I like living on the edge)
- In a mixer, beat the butter and the remainder of the sugar (1/2 cup) until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and mix on low speed until well blended.
- Add the buttermilk and mix for a few seconds. The mixture will not look smooth at this point. Add the flour mixture and mix until smooth. Fold in the ginger and lemon.
- Pour the mixture into a twelve muffin tray and bake for 20 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown and a tooth pick which is poked into the muffin comes out clean.
Serve with lemon verbena tea.
This recipe is based on a recipe from Sweet Dreams, Cakes and Desserts by Ronnie Venezia.