So today would have been my mum's 64th birthday and it also marks 7 years to the day since her funeral. With each anniversary I think maybe it will get a little easier ... but it never does. I had some fun with my boys today but I was also snappy and exhausted and tears were always just under the surface.
Mum and I didn't always see eye to eye, especially when I was a teenager but she was always my confidante, the one person in the world I could guarantee would be on my side. She would literally drop everything if I needed her. That's what mums are for right?
I have loved baking since I was little and mum and I spent many hours in the kitchen together. I think she was relieved though when I got older and wanted to take over more of the cooking duties as I don't she really enjoyed it all that much. She loved tasting everything I baked and she would have loved these sticky date muffins which I made today in her memory. They are pure comfort food, like a big warm hug, and I was comforted enjoying them with my boys this afternoon.
"Life has to end" she said. "Love doesn't."
Sticky Date Muffins
250g dried pitted dates
2 tbs brandy
1 tbs bicarb soda
1/2 cup rice malt syrup
1 ts vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange
2 ts cinnamon
2 ts dried ginger
250g white spelt flour, sifted with 3 ts baking powder
6 extra dates, split in half
Line a 12 cup muffin tray and set aside.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, place the dates, water and brandy. Bring to the simmer for 5 minutes then add the bicarb and stir well. It will foam and froth up. Add the orange zest and vanilla then remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
In a stand mixer or a large bowl with electric beaters, cream the butter and add the syrup a splodge at a time, until well incorporated.
Next add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Fold through half the flour together with the cinnamon and ginger, then half the cooled date mixture and repeat with the remainder.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin tray and top each with half a dried date.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and springing back in the middle (mine were done at 18 mins but it depends on your oven so check once they start to smell amazing). Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the tray before turning out. Enjoy warm for dessert with ice-cream (if you're not dairy free) or at room temperature with a cup of tea or coffee for afternoon tea.
Makes 12. Suitable to freeze.