Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sailor Jacks--A Highly Spiced Muffin

Recently, a friend of mine was waxing poetic about Sailor Jacks. I had to admit to her that I had never had the culinary pleasure...and in fact, I didn't even know what they were. She set me straight in a hurry, and suggested I make some, bring them in to work, and ask for everyone's opinion. Good idea. (The lovely folks I work with are great sports about taste testing my kitchen experiments!)

Here's the end result, and then I'll give you the recipe as I made them, plus my feelings on the subject.

Sailor Jacks

Sailor Jacks Recipe:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter and 3/4 cup of brown sugar. Beat until smooth. Add 2 eggs and mix until well blended. Either by hand with a large wooden or using an electric mixer on the lowest setting, blend in well 1 1/2 cups sour cream, 1 1/2 cups molasses, 2 tablespoons allspice, 1 tablespoon cloves, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg. (You read those amounts correctly. These are highly spiced!)

On slow speed or by hand, add 1 teaspoon each of baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add 3 cups flour (some recipes I looked at said to use cake flour, but I used regular all-purpose flour and had no problems) and mix well. The batter will be thick. Add a heaping cup of raisins and stir them in.

Scoop batter into 12 greased muffin tins; the cups will be very full (about 1/3 cup batter per cup), but it works. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Be careful not to overbake them or they will be dry. When the muffins are done baking, place them upside down on a wire rack that has been set inside a four-sided pan (such as a large jelly roll pan) to cool for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the powdered sugar glaze: Whisk together 2 cups powdered sugar and 1/4 - 1/2 cup water, depending on how thick you like the glaze, but keeping it thin enough to pour. Pour the glaze evenly over the muffins(use a spoon to help you get full coverage over the tops and sides of the sailor jacks). The excess glaze will drip into the jelly roll pan so you don't have a mess on the counter to clean up afterward...because the pouring is messy! The glaze will harden as it sets. These taste better the second day, by the way.

*  *  *  *  *
I tried my first sailor jack and thought they were WAY too spicy. I mean, they had a bite to them I've never tasted before. But I'd told my friend I'd make some so I brought them in to work as planned. I was nervous about how they would be received so I whipped up a loaf of banana nut bread as a peace offering. I requested that everyone have at least a brownie bite of the sailor jacks before digging in to the banana bread. (You'd think I was trying to foist vegetables on kids the way I carried on!)
To my utter surprise, most everyone loved them! And after the dust settled it dawned on me that the most ardent sailor jack admirers were all male. Interesting.
Now were I to make them again (which I will do), I'd try a batch with half of the called-for amounts of spices and see what that would taste like. You might want to start there and work your way up to the full dose of spices if you think you'd like that.
Anyway, give them a try. The spices used are perfect for our rapidly cooling fall weather. And to my way of thinking, it would be almost a crime to eat a sailor jack without a cup of tea or coffee to go with them. It's a perfect pairing!
Enjoy, and may you feel God's presence as you go through your days.


  1. We had a bakery near us that used to make these... and YES, they are very spicy... but that spice is nicely offset with a bit of hot cider. Yours look PERFECT!!! :)

  2. Thanks, Joyce! I'll take the word of an expert. Blessings!

  3. An absolute favorite muffin treat!!! All the delicious spices.
    My mom made them when I was young, but hadn't had one for maybe 20 years or so.
    I recently discovered them at Market of Choice stores in Portland.
    Yours go look perfect!

    1. Ive learned that lots of folks have fond memories of Sailor Jacks! An interesting tidbit: Men seem to like them better than women. 😉