Hildegard of Bingen was a medieval nun with wide ranging knowledge and interests, including medicine and herbalism.
I was surprised to discover that this 12th century woman had developed a recipe for ‘Cookies of Joy’, the goodness of which she believed would raise flagging spirits and should be consumed three times daily.
Hildegard’s cookies included cinnamon and cloves, and made use of spelt – an ancient form of wheat.
Spelt is not something I normally keep on hand in my kitchen, but I was so intrigued by the idea of these cookies that I purchased some specially (despite the price!) just to try my hand at a variation.
I’m not sure exactly what I did (or failed to do), but the cookies were not a hit.
When I say not a hit, I mean they sat on the cooling rack all day and no one tried to take one. The Cookies of Joy were a bust.
As I’d only baked half the dough, I froze the rest – perhaps thinking some kind of cold temperature alchemy might magically transform it?
Several months later, while cleaning out the freezer, I faced the inevitable. The frozen dough was tossed.
Even the raccoon who ransacked the garbage that night wouldn’t eat the remains. I found the untouched dough on the porch still wrapped in wax paper.
The message was pretty clear, and I abandoned any further attempts at the recipe.
As I still loved the idea of those cookies, and still had a package of spelt in the cupboard, I decided to create these Joy Muffins instead. While the spelt adds a particularly flavorful nutty taste, they will work just as well with regular whole wheat.
The muffins are great for breakfast or a snack, and bring their own bit of joy.
- 1 cup / 250 ml spelt
- 1 cup / 250 ml all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup / 125 ml oatmeal
- 1 teaspoon / 5 ml salt
- 1 teaspoon / 5 ml baking powder
- 1 teaspoon / 5 ml baking soda
- 1 teaspoon /. 5 ml ginger
- 2 teaspoons / 10 ml cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon / 1.25 ml nutmeg
- 1/2 cup / 125 ml sugar
- 1 cup / 250 ml buttermilk
- 1/2 cup / 125 ml orange juice
- 1/4 cup / 60 ml vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 1-1/2 cups / 375 ml roughly chopped peeled apple
- Cinnamon sugar for sprinkling on top see note
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F / 204 degrees C.
Grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
In mixing bowl, stir together spelt, flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar.
In separate bowl, beat buttermilk, orange juice, vegetable oil and eggs until blended.
Stir buttermilk mixture into flour, stirring gently to avoid overmixing. Before the batter is completely mixed, add apples and continue to fold gently until apples are mixed in.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups and sprinkly lightly with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean.
Let muffins cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove to cooling rack.
To make cinnamon sugar, stir together 1 tablespoon / 15 ml granulated sugar with 1/2 teaspoon / 2.5 ml cinnamon.