Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sailor Jack Muffins

Brandy by Looking Glass
This song from my youth used to act like a pause button.  My mother hated songs like this because they'd make me stop what I was supposed to be doing and stare off into space.  I guess I should say she didn't hate the song - just its effect on me.  Although I had yet to see the ocean or a port, except in the movies, this song made me imagine I was standing right there on the dock.  I thought what it must have been like to be Brandy, watching each ship come in and unloading their cargo, hoping to see her love and what treasure he had brought from far, far across the sea.  I never gave much thought to the treasures they might have been loading INTO the ships before they set sail.  The song clearly states that Brandy lived in a port on the west coast.  Why not the pacific northwest?  And what those ships would be loading up would be these delectable and delicious and delightful Sailor Jack muffins!  It's true!  Ah!  Had Brandy caught a whiff of these spiced breads she would have quit her job at the tavern and ran off with . . . not her love . . . but with Sailor Jack!  Oh yeah!

If you were to see me, you'd see I'm about bouncing out 
of my chair with excitement to bring you this recipe today!
No kidding!
I tasted these stud muffins for the first time about a month 
ago and the world truly stood still for a minute!
I can't even explain how serious I am!
Let's put it this way - 
if one of these muffins were placed in front of me 
along with a dish of the most decadent silky chocolate mousse - 
or even ganache -
I'd choose the muffin!
Let me tell you about it.

I went to the Oregon coast with my sisters for a fun getaway.
Just a weekend, but just us girls.
One day we went into Cannon Beach, a darling little town 
with lots of charming boutiques and people watching!
We made our way into the Cannon Beach Bakery and each 
bought a sack of some goodies to enjoy as we strolled along.
I got my usuals - shortbread cookies, butter cookies - and as 
I was about to pay I asked the guy behind the counter about these really 
dark muffins that had been turned upside down and had some sort of glaze on them.
He said they were Sailor Jacks.
I asked him to tell me about them.
He said they were spiced with cinnamon and ginger and 
cloves and then coated with a lemon glaze.
Seriously, they sounded more interesting than good.
But, out of my mouth came a request to add one to my order.
Inside I was thinking, "It's gonna be dry.  I don't know why I'm doing this."

Fast forward about 15 minutes.
We are out on the sidewalk again.
I put my hand into my sack to break a bite off of anything in there
and I feel the edge of those muffins.
I go ahead and break off a chunk and bring it to my nose for a quick sniff.
It's what I do.
It smelled really, really good.
I took a bite and

Yep - I'm pretty sure that that's what I said - and probably that loud, too!
How could something that brown, that plain, taste THAT GOOD?!
My mouth was filled with exotic levels of cinnamon and cloves - nutmeg and ginger.
It was so much more than a gingerbread!
Then another bite held a big, fat juicy raisin which 
exploded with sugary syrup when I bit down.
Eyes were rolling back into my head.
I pulled that muffin out and took a good hard look at it.
The crumb wasn't delicate.
It was robust but moist.
Upon closer examination, that glaze was delicate but held it's own.
The lemon was the perfect partner for those spices.

I had to share with my sisters.
And I HAD to go back to the bakery and get more.
Like six more, actually.
I slightly scolded the kid for not doing justice in his description of Jack.
There were a handful of customers and I boldly told 
them that they should put back everything they had 
thought they wanted and get these muffins - after I had my six, of course!

Come to find out, these Sailor Jacks are a pacific northwest commodity.
They actually were taken on ships out to sea.
I can see why!
They keep well and actually get better on the 2nd and third day.
Made with whole wheat flour and oat flour and molasses, 
they pack more nutrition than most muffins.

After a little searching for a recipe, it boiled down to the fact that just about 
everybody out there uses the recipe in the 
My hands were about shaking when I set about making them for myself!
No five hour drive to the coast needed.

Alas, it took several tries and a few adjustments to get them just like the ones at the bakery.
And it is with great and immense pleasure that I give you
Sailor Jacks!
Sigh!  He's so dreamy!!

Sailor Jack Muffins
makes 12 muffins
adapted from King Arthur Flour
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar, dark or light
4 t. cinnamon
1 t. salt
1 t. ground ginger
3/4 t. ground nutmeg
1/2 t. ground cloves
 1 c. water
1/2 c. raisins
2 T. molasses
1 c. whole wheat flour (4 1/2 oz., 125 g)
1/2 c. oat flour (1 5/8 oz., 50 g)
1/2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats (1 3/4 oz., 63 g)
1 t. baking soda
3/4 t. baking powder
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar (6 oz., 170 g)
3 T. fresh lemon juice
2 T. milk

Make the raisin and spice mixture by combining the first ten ingredients - granulated sugar through molasses - in a saucepan.  Stir to mix and heat over medium heat until it comes to a low boil.  Adjust the heat to keep it at a low boil for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool completely.  You could do this part the night before if you want to have them first thing in the morning.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a muffin tin.  You won't be using liners for these muffins.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flours, oats, baking soda, and baking powder.  I like to run a chopper over the oats first and just break them up a bit.
Whisk all these dry ingredients together and then, in another bowl or measuring cup, beat the egg and oil together.  Add the egg and oil to the dry ingredients along with the cooled raisin and spice mixture.  Stir with a wooden spoon just until the ingredients come together.  You don't want to over mix and risk getting a tough and dry muffin.

Fill the muffin tins about 3/4 full, dividing the batter evenly among the 12 portions.
These do not take long to bake up and you do NOT want to overbake them.  Bake for 15 minutes.  A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.  
Let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes then pop them out onto a cooling rack that is set over a sheet tray.  Keep them bottoms up!  Let them cool a little longer.
Make the glaze by stirring together the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and milk in a deep bowl.  When the glaze is ready, dip the bottom of the muffin into the glaze and swirl to get an even coating on the bottom and up the sides.  Return to the rack - the sheet tray underneath will catch the drippings.
Any remaining glaze is used to drizzle over the tops for a second coating.  Let sit until the glaze sets up - if you can resist.  I wouldn't blame you if you dove into your computer screen and tried to get nibbling on these!  
Find a seat - one that will support a swooning Jack fan - and break one of the muffins open.  Inhale those spices and then begin to devour.  You will need two muffins if this is your first tasting of Sailor Jacks.  The first one just seems to disappear.  The second one, why, you can just sit back and relax!  Or not!


  1. These are every bit as good as you say.
    Send me on an ocean voyage and I would take
    Jack with me!!


  2. Thank you for this recipe I am a misplaced Gooney living in Wyoming so glad to have this taste of home!

    1. You're welcome! They make me swoon every time I make them!!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I enjoyed your description of your new love affair with Sailor Jacks. I'm having one of my own after having discovered them lately. Boy, that Jack sure gets around! Even hubby loves him!

  5. I too am addicted to Sailor Jacks. The first and last place I RUN to upon arriving in Cannon Beach is the bakery to satay my fix. The best ever!!! I live in Montana so don't get them often so am happy to know I can now try to make them at home!

    1. Market of Choice in Ashland, OR sells them too and about every 2 weeks I drive over from Medford just to buy them. They freeze beautifully too. I bag them individually so I can have one whenever I want. I am not much of a cook but think I am going to try making them after reading the recipe for them.

  6. I first fell in love with these wonderful flavored muffins in the late 70's at the Lincoln City Bakery on the Oregon coast. I moved away and spent years trying to find them everywhere I went. I went back there in the late 90's and went back to that bakery and bought every one they had and brought them back home to Alaska with me. I am going to try your recipe and hope for that little piece of heaven. TFS

  7. i live an hour from the oregon coast in Eugene and i just tried one of these at a local coffee place last month, it knocked me off my feet! I had no idea they were a local delicacy, i'm so pleased! i can't wait to try your recipe!

  8. Have loved these handful of deliciousness for years. As I rarely make it to Cannon Beach, I once had them shipped to me. Just found Canby Thriftway sells them!! It's much closer. I appreciate the recipe but don't bake. Glad others have found Jack so such deliciousness is NOT lost.