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Christmas Morning Muffins

by . Featured in NIGELLA CHRISTMAS
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Introduction

I have never quite understood how people can go in for vast, rich breakfasts on Christmas morning. I am hardly a modest eater by anyone's standards, but even I can't quite accommodate a platterful of buttery scrambled eggs with smoked salmon before the gargantuan Christmas feast. And I speak as cook and eater on this one.

I do, however, see the need to make breakfast special in some way, and these muffins do that. What's more, if you measure out the dry ingredients the night before and put the muffin cases in the muffin tin, you don't need to do anything more labour intensive on Christmas morning itself than preheat your oven, whisk up a few runny ingredients in a jug and stir them into the waiting bowl. Then dollop the batter into the prepared muffin cases and all's sweet - and smelling of cinnamony, orange-scented Christmas.

I have never quite understood how people can go in for vast, rich breakfasts on Christmas morning. I am hardly a modest eater by anyone's standards, but even I can't quite accommodate a platterful of buttery scrambled eggs with smoked salmon before the gargantuan Christmas feast. And I speak as cook and eater on this one.

I do, however, see the need to make breakfast special in some way, and these muffins do that. What's more, if you measure out the dry ingredients the night before and put the muffin cases in the muffin tin, you don't need to do anything more labour intensive on Christmas morning itself than preheat your oven, whisk up a few runny ingredients in a jug and stir them into the waiting bowl. Then dollop the batter into the prepared muffin cases and all's sweet - and smelling of cinnamony, orange-scented Christmas.

Christmas Morning Muffins
Photo by Lis Parsons

Ingredients

Makes: 12

Metric Cups
  • 250 grams plain flour
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 100 grams caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg (or good grating of fresh nutmeg)
  • 2 clementines (or satsumas)
  • approx. 125 millilitres full fat milk
  • 75 millilitres vegetable oil (or melted butter left to cool slightly)
  • 1 large egg
  • 175 grams dried cranberries
  • 3 teaspoons demerara sugar (for the topping)
  • 1⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup superfine sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg (or good grating of fresh nutmeg)
  • 2 clementines (or satsumas)
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil (or melted butter left to cool slightly)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1½ cups dried cranberries
  • 3 teaspoons turbinado sugar (for the topping)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6/400ºF. Line a 12-bun muffin tin with muffin papers or (as I have here) silicone inserts.
  2. Measure the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, caster sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg into a large bowl; grate the zest of the clementine/satsuma over, and combine. If you are doing this in advance, leave the zesting till Christmas morning.
  3. Squeeze the juice of the clementines/satsumas into a measuring jug, and pour in the milk until it comes up to the 200ml mark / halfway between the ¾ cup and 1 cup marks.
  4. Add the oil (or slightly cooled, melted butter) and egg, and lightly beat until just combined.
  5. Pour this liquid mixture into the bowl of dried ingredients and stir until everything is more or less combined, remembering that a well-beaten mixture makes for heavy muffins: in other words a lumpy batter is a good thing here.
  6. Fold in the cranberries, then spoon the batter into the muffin cases and sprinkle the demerara sugar on top. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, by which time the air should be thick with the promise of good things and the good things themselves golden brown and ready to be eaten, either plain or broken up and smeared, as you go, with unsalted butter and marmalade.
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6/400ºF. Line a 12-bun muffin tin with muffin papers or (as I have here) silicone inserts.
  2. Measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda, superfine sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg into a large bowl; grate the zest of the clementine/satsuma over, and combine. If you are doing this in advance, leave the zesting till Christmas morning.
  3. Squeeze the juice of the clementines/satsumas into a measuring jug, and pour in the milk until it comes up to the 200ml mark / halfway between the ¾ cup and 1 cup marks.
  4. Add the oil (or slightly cooled, melted butter) and egg, and lightly beat until just combined.
  5. Pour this liquid mixture into the bowl of dried ingredients and stir until everything is more or less combined, remembering that a well-beaten mixture makes for heavy muffins: in other words a lumpy batter is a good thing here.
  6. Fold in the cranberries, then spoon the batter into the muffin cases and sprinkle the turbinado sugar on top. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, by which time the air should be thick with the promise of good things and the good things themselves golden brown and ready to be eaten, either plain or broken up and smeared, as you go, with unsalted butter and marmalade.

Tell us what you think

What 14 Others have said

  • These are so easy to make. Full of fruit and fill the house with a wonderful aroma. Has to be the best muffins ive ever made .

    Posted by Cathy63 on 10th November 2015
  • I've just recommended these as the perfect start to Christmas morning on the 'I Love Christmas' Facebook page. These festive beauties have been part of our family traditions for years. I love the Christmassy aroma and how light they are, leaving you with room for the rest of the days feasting!

    Posted by JennySpenny on 2nd August 2015
  • I've just made these with leftover fresh cranberry sauce. I strained the cranberries and used the sauce instead of orange juice and a mix of fresh and dried cranberries. Put a drizzle of orange icing over the top. Oh. My. Days. They are absolutely amazing. Some serious restraint is going to be needed today!

    Posted by Jane71 on 9th January 2015
  • These are quite simply a stunning way to start Christmas- they have now become a family tradition since I first did them from Nigella's cookery book 6 years ago. Light, delicious and fills the house with festive smells. The dry mix can be put together the night before to save time, and the rougher the mix the better the muffins so get the children involved!

    Posted by krowdrah on 23rd December 2014
  • @CanadianFoodLover, if you click on the tab next to "Ingredients" the one that says "Switch to Cup Measures", the system will change it for you! Hope that helps!

    Posted by Annezila on 10th December 2014
  • This recipe sounds wonderful, however as most Canadian cooks do not weigh ingredients the recipe as written cannot be deciphered. Anyone out there who can translate all measurements to measuring cups (ounces and/or metric ml) for the larger amounts of ingredients? We do use tsp & Tbsp. Sure hope someone can help. Thanks a bunch!

    Posted by Canadian Food Lover on 8th December 2014
  • Made these for the first time Christmas just past, they were delicious. My children actually took time to sit down and eat these, they will be a must for our Christmas morning breakfast from now on. Made them on Christmas Eve and warmed slightly in oven next morning.

    Posted by Jo74 on 12th April 2013
  • I added walnuts as well as cranberries as I was short on cranberries - they added a bit of bite and flavour. Kids and adults love them and so quick and easy to make. Must remember to do them other than for Christmas!

    Posted by Anne99999 on 27th December 2012
  • I made these for my elderly grandfather the week before Christmas (this very morning, in fact) as a way to bring some Christmas spirit to our house, and to test the recipe before serving the muffins on the big day. The whole house was filled with the most marvelous smell as the muffins baked. It was heavenly! They couldn't have been easier -- I prepared exactly as Nigella directed, though I used tangerines from our trees. My grandfather and I love them and will enjoy them with our afternoon tea, as well. I will certainly make these for the family on Christmas morning. Absolutely wonderful.

    Posted by eavgrainger on 18th December 2012
  • This has become a Christmas morning tradition in my house. I baked them for my parents on Xmas morning 2 years ago, and now they demand them every year. They are so therapeutic to make, and taste divine.

    Posted by stargirls on 3rd December 2012
  • These must be the most delicious muffins one can ask for on Christmas morning. This year, once again, as with the past 6 years, these delectable beauties will be served to my family again. Thank you Nigella for an amazing Christmas morning muffin.

    Posted by AJANI on 4th December 2012
  • We have started a tradition of having these for breakfast on Christmas Eve as a fortifier before the big cooking day. They are absolutely delicious - we have a little unsalted butter with them. I am trying them in silicone cases this year.

    Posted by Hilary A on 6th December 2012
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