The muffin mix will keep, unopened, for 3-4 months, but the muffins should be eaten on the day that they are made. You will need a 0.5-litre Kilner jar. The mix makes about 8 muffins.


150g plain flour
50g plain wholemeal flour
21/2tsp baking powder
55g golden caster sugar
115g ready chopped dates
50g pecan nuts, lightly toasted and finely chopped
1tsp ground cinnamon

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Pour into the Kilner jar and seal. Attach a label with the following instructions:

To make the muffins

Heat the oven to 200˚C/fan oven 180˚C/ mark 6. Line a 12-cup muffin tray with paper cases. You will need about 8 or 9. Tip the contents of the jar into a mixing bowl.
Melt 70g unsalted butter and leave to cool slightly. Whisk in 1 egg, 100ml buttermilk and 70ml milk. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and stir just enough to combine – it’s important not to over mix.
Spoon into the muffin cases and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden.

You can leave the pears and star anise macer-ating in the vodka for up to a month, but it already tastes delicious after a week. Keep the vodka in the freezer and serve in iced shot glasses.


1-2 star anise
6 ripe pears, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
100g caster sugar
1 liter vodka

Place 1 star anise and the rest of the ingredients in a sterilised 2-litre Kilner jar and stir well.
Seal and leave in a cool, dark place for at least 1 week or up to 1 month, but check the flavour after the first few days: if the star anise flavour is faint, add the other star anise.
When ready, strain the vodka through a sieve lined with muslin and pour into bottles. Seal with a tight-fitting lid.