We have been living in our little house for a year now, about the same time as I have been writing this blog. There are quirks to this house, as there are with any old house. Wooden houses built pre-1900 on a fault line are perhaps what real-estate agents call “character homes.”
Draws don’t slide smoothly, windows don’t properly meet with their frames, and doors sometimes swing open or stay firmly stuck. There is natural ventilation: curtains sway as the breeze whistles through the cracks and broken seals of our windows and doors. During an earthquake it is the noise our house makes that scares me the most – glass rattles and the wooden joints seem to push and pull away from each other in deafening tones.
But here we have had dinner parties, planted a garden, drunk coffee and eaten brunch on the balcony, blasted dirty country music to the traffic and runners of Thorndon. There are often flowers on the mantel piece, or new things on our walls – feather masks made by Francesca, cake plates, posters, mirrors, teaspoons. We like that people like our little house.
For the days we spent moving into our flat I made jam doughnut muffins. Despite the name, these muffins are light, moreish really. I like the process by which you create the “doughnut” effect: dip their rounded tops in melted butter and roll them through cinnamon sugar. These muffins feel carefully made, more so than the ‘whip up in 10 minutes variety.’ I like breaking them apart to reveal their dark pink jam centre.
My mother is good at making muffins and we have them for many occasions, but for me, muffins seem synonymous with busy days. Days for painting, or working outside, for long ambling walks, or picnics, or for car trips. And for days spent packing, sorting and heavy lifting.
I baked these muffins again, as a one year anniversary of living here. Now I only need for this flat to be full of people again.
Jam Doughnut Muffins
This recipe comes from an old fundraising muffin book for Kimi Ora School in Thorndon. We have been making these muffins for as long as I can remember.
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup canola or sunflower oil
3/4 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup milk
For the topping:
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Grease or line a muffin tray. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon in a bowl. In a separate bowl mix thoroughly the oil, first measure of sugar, the egg and the milk. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid. Mix until just combined. Fill half of each muffin hole with batter then place a half teaspoon of jam in the centre. Top with another teaspoon of batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Shake out muffins while hot and dip the top in melted butter followed by the cinnamon-sugar. Leave to cool.