This is my muffinization of Lussekatter, the Scandinavian saffron buns associated with Advent in general and with St Lucy's (or Lucia's) Day in particular. This feast falls on December 13th, and my youngest son's birthday is the 12th; since we are usually deep in holiday mode at that time - which inevitably entails the consumption of seasonal treats - I always associate these tasty yellow pastries with him. So when Lucia Day rolled around this year I decided to reinterpret them as something a busy and/or lazy person could throw together without being arsed about yeast, rising times, etc. One of these days I will get around to veganizing a more traditional recipe, but in the meantime, these totally hit that saffron/cardamom sweet spot that tells your mouth that it's almost Christmas. (NB this recipe makes a dozen muffins, which disappeared in about 12 hours, so you might consider doubling it if you are, like me, surrounded by hungry people.) God Jul!
~ 1.5 cups plain, unsweetened soy milk
~ 1 tsp. saffron threads
~ 3/4 cup currants or raisins
~ 1/4 cup canola oil
~ 1 tsp. vanilla extract
~ 1/2 tsp. almond extract
~ 2.5 cups white whole wheat flour
~ 1 tbsp. baking powder
~ 1 tsp. cardamom
~ 1/2 tsp. each: baking soda, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon
~ 1/4 tsp. mace
~ 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
~ 1/3 cup slivered almonds (optional)
~ 1 tbsp. sugar mixed with 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
~ Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and coat a muffin tin with cooking spray.
~ In a bowl or beaker, combine the soy milk, saffron threads, and raisins. Cover and microwave about two minutes; leave covered and set aside for at least 15-20 minutes to allow the raisins to plump up, and the saffron to infuse them and the milk. (You could obviously do this in a pot on the stovetop, too.) After that's done, add the canola oil and the vanilla and almond extracts.
~ In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cardamon, mace, brown sugar, and slivered almonds, if using.
~ Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir until just combined, being careful not to over-mix.
~ Spoon the batter into your waiting muffin tin, and top with a sprinkle of the sugar/nutmeg mixture.
~ Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
~ Remove from the oven and allow the muffins to rest in the pan for about 5 minutes before transferring to a rack; these are equally good served warm or at room temperature.