Spiced Gingerbread Muffins are a great option for lunchbox baking. Quick to put together, perfect for freezing and highly portable, they tick all the boxes. Made with healthy spelt flour and unrefined sugars, you need feel no guilt if you enjoy one (or two, or three) yourself.
TOTAL TIME INVESTMENT: 30 MINUTES
Baking for children is really just an exercise in self-punishment sometimes. Create something you think is quite tasty, with flavours you know they like, and be prepared for nothing more than a shrug and a “They’re OK” for all your hard work.
Truth be told though, I did receive some constructive feedback from The Princess about this particular batch of spiced muffins:
“They could use a bit more spice”.
You will find a familiar thread in all of my baking recipes – I use a variety of unrefined sugars and I decrease the sugar content in my baked goods. My family don’t like overly sweet foods, and reducing the sugar often allows the other flavours to shine through.
If you are interested in learning how to reduce sugar in your own baking, I have put together an easy guide to help you out. You can grab the guide from my Resource Library by clicking the link below, or by requesting the library password at the end of this post.
These healthy spiced gingerbread muffins take only minutes to put together, and are ideal for tucking into the lunchbox. Kids like the crunch of the spiced sugar topping and you will like the speed in which they can be made. Win, win!
Table of contents
- Ingredient Substitutions for Spiced Gingerbread Muffins
- Frequently Asked Questions About Ginger Spice Muffins
- Tips and Tricks For Healthy Gingerbread Muffins
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Ingredient Substitutions for Spiced Gingerbread Muffins
Whilst these ginger spiced muffins appear to be packed with ‘different’ ingredients, don’t let that put you off. You don’t need to restock the pantry to whip up these gingerbread muffins in your own home. A few simple substitutions for ingredients you already have on hand will still produce a delicious result everybody will love.
- Replace the white spelt flour and wholegrain spelt flour with plain/all purpose wheat flour and wholegrain wheat flour.
- Both the rapadura sugar and the dark muscovado sugar can be replaced with sucanet, turbinado, dark brown sugar, raw sugar or any other unrefined sugar.
- The dark muscovado sugar in the topping can also be replaced with demerara sugar.
- Mixed spice is a mixture of sweet spices that are used to flavour baked goods and desserts. It is commonly available in Australia and Britain, but may be replace with pumpkin pie spice in America. Speculaas spice mix (Dutch spice mix) can also be used in place of the mixed spice.
- I love the blackstrap molasses in these gingerbread muffins and the way it combines with the spices. If you can’t find blackstrap molasses, any other molasses can be used. I have even used date molasses in this recipe before when I didn’t have blackstrap on hand.
- Most non-dairy milks can be used in place of the milk. Almond, soy or oat milk can all be used, although I would not use coconut milk unless you were desperate.
Frequently Asked Questions About Ginger Spice Muffins
What is blackstrap molasses?
Blackstrap molasses is a byproduct of the sugar refining process. Initially, juice of the sugar cane is boiled to concentrate the juice, creating cane sugar. A second boiling of the sugar cane juice produces molasses. A third boiling of the sugar cane syrup caramelises sugars in the syrup, producing a thick, dark liquid known as blackstrap molasses.
Blackstrap molasses is high in vitamins and minerals, such as iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and selenium. This is in stark contrast to refined sugar which has no nutritional value.
What is the difference between molasses and blackstrap molasses?
Blackstrap molasses is more concentrated that true molasses as it is boiled for longer which drives off more water and concentrates nutrients. The prolonged boiling process also caramelises the sugars in the syrup, making them slightly bitter.
Blackstrap molasses is not as sweet as true molasses and is slightly salty due to the higher concentration of nutrients. More information about the difference between the two can be found here.
What is mixed spice?
Mixed spice is blend of sweet ground spices. Blends differ between retailers, but mixed spice usually contains some or all of the following spices: cinnamon, coriander seed, caraway, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice, and mace.
Mixed spice is typically seen as an ingredient in baking or dessert dishes from Britain, Australia and New Zealand. You can easily make your own mixed spice blend from spices in your pantry cupboard.
Is five spice the same as mixed spice?
No, five spice is not the same a mixed spice. Five spice, which contains Szechuan pepper along with cinnamon, star anise, cloves, fennel, is typically used in Chinese savoury cooking. Mixed spice is a sweeter mix (see above) used in baking and desserts.
Tips and Tricks For Healthy Gingerbread Muffins
These gingerbread muffins are the perfect healthy treat for the lunchbox. They freeze well, are easy to defrost and are fully portable. And the unrefined sugars and spelt flour in the recipe give it the healthier edge we are always searching for when it comes to feeding the kids. Or ourselves.
To ensure that each batch of these ginger spice muffins are a raging success I leave you with a few final tips:
- Muffins are best eaten on the day of baking. They can be kept at room temperature in an airtight container for up to two days but are best refreshed prior to eating. If you wish to keep them longer, then freeze them.
- To refresh muffins, microwave them for 30 – 40 seconds (timing will depend on the power of your microwave) or reheat in the oven at 150C for 8-10 minutes.
- To freeze these gingerbread muffins, I simply pack them into a zip lock bag once cooled and stack them in the freezer. The muffins will keep for up to three months in the freezer.
- The Princess simply grabs a spiced muffin out of the freezer each morning for school. She likes to zap them in the microwave for 30 seconds first to start the defrosting process before adding it to her lunchbox. I don’t think this is a necessary step, but as I am not the one packing the lunchbox I keep quiet.
- Left alone, the muffins defrost quite quickly and should be ready to eat by recess or lunch. On very cold days though you may like to employ The Princess’s microwave trick to ensure they are edible when the lunchbox is opened.
- The Princess feels these muffins are light on spice. Personally I think they have just the right balance, however don’t be afraid to add more spice if this is your preference. If you really want a strident ginger flavour, add a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger to the wet mix.
- Flours can absorb liquids differently. If the mixture seems too dry, add a little extra milk to the batter. A spatula should be able to move through the mixture easily. If the mixture is too dry before it is portioned into the muffin cases the muffins won’t rise properly.
And despite her criticisms, The Princess (with a little help from Mr Grumpy) worked her way through a batch of these gingerbread muffins in lightning fashion. Maybe they weren’t that bad after all.
Other Easy Lunchbox Recipes You Might Like
Packing a lunchbox the kids will actually eat can be a constant source of frustration, so here are a few of my personal favourites that I know won’t come home again:
- Salami, Spinach and Cheese Scrolls
- Margherita Pizza Scrolls
- Healthy Anzac Biscuits
- Caramel Date Slice
- Fig and Pumpkin Seed Bars
- Banana and Cocoa Nib Muffins
Made this recipe? Tell me how it went in the comments below.
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Spiced Gingerbread Muffins
- 270 g (2 cups) white spelt flour
- 72 g (1/2 cup) wholemeal spelt
- 2 -3 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice
- Pinch salt
- 115 g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter melted and slightly cooled
- 85 g (1/2 cup) rapadura sugar
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) blackstrap molasses
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoons dark muscovado sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pre-heat the oven to 190C (170C fan forced)
- Either grease a muffin tin or line the tin with muffin liners.
- Combine the ingredients for the topping in a small bowl and set aside.
- Place the ingredients for the dry mix in a small bowl, stir to combine and then set aside.
- Put the melted butter, rapadura sugar and blackstrap molasses in a large bowl, and stir together until combined.
- Mix the milk, eggs and vanilla extract into the butter and sugar.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and stir together. I use a large spatula to do this, making cutting motions through the mix until they are combined. Do not over-mix the batter or your muffins will be tough.
- Divide the mixture between the muffin liners.
- Sprinkle the topping mixture over the muffins.
- Bake the muffins for 15 – 20 minutes, or until well risen and firm. They will look dark brown due to the natural sugars and flours. If you are unsure whether they are ready, insert a skewer into one. The skewer should be clean when removed.
- Remove the tin from the oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes before removing them from the tin and cooling them on a rack.
- The muffins can be served immediately. They can be kept at room temperature for 1 day and refreshed in the microwave or oven for eating, or frozen for up to three months.
- If you love ginger then use the upper amount given in the recipe.
- If you want a strident ginger flavour in your muffins, also add a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger to the wet mix.
- Flours absorb liquids differently. If your mixture seems too dry, add a little extra milk to the batter. A spatula should be able to move through the mixture easily. If the mixture is too dry before it is portioned into the muffin cases the muffins won’t rise properly.
- Muffins are best eaten on the day of baking. If you wish to keep them longer, either refresh them in the microwave or oven prior to eating, or freeze for later.
- The muffins can be frozen for up to three months.
- Muffins can be defrosted in the microwave, or will defrost slowly in the lunchbox if it is a warmish day.
Update Notes: This post was originally published on 24th June 2015. It was substantially updated on 27th August 2019 to include ingredient substitutions, FAQ’s, a Table of Contents, links to other lunchbox recipes, nutritional information and to generally improve the readability of the text.