Sometimes, I’ll get an urge to make – specifically, bake – something. I usually cook suppers during the week, but I hold a special place in my heart for baking. There’s something about baking…maybe it’s just wanting to make something self-contained and snackable; I’m not sure. I had made chocolate chip cookies the week before, but I hadn’t baked anything new recently. Because I didn’t have a ton of time, I landed on muffins because they are relatively easy and quick. I was thinking about the Pioneer Woman Orange Mini Muffins with Brown Sugar Glaze (introduced to me by my friend Shawn – they’re seriously good), but since I don’t have a mini muffin tin, I decided against those. But the citrus got me thinking, and lemon poppy seed was it!
They were simple enough that they wouldn’t take a ton of time, but interesting enough that it satisfied my desire to bake something new. And they were definitely worthwhile. For the recipe, I turned to Dorie Greenspan’s book, Baking: From My Home to Yours (incidentally, also source of my favorite chocolate chip cookies). I had lemons, I had poppy seeds, I even had sour cream, but I was missing eggs. Garh.
After a quick trip to the grocery store, I gathered all my ingredients – pretty basic ingredients, sour cream, and of course, lemon and poppy seeds. By the way, I had never baked with sour cream before, and I was worried about the flavor coming through too strongly, but you really can’t taste the sour cream.
The first thing I did was zest the lemon, and rub it into the sugar. It smelled great – lemon-y and sweet – and the texture was great – kind of crumbly, a little like brown sugar, and the little bits of lemon zest mixed in was so pretty. To that I added the other dry ingredients.
Then I put melted butter, juice from the zested lemon, sour cream, two eggs, and vanilla in a separate bowl. It looked a little unappetizing, but when I whisked it all together, it became a lovely, thick, creamy mixture.
Then I put the dry ingredients into the wet, added the poppy seeds, and mixed just till combined.
I split the batter evenly between 12 greased muffin tin cups, and they baked up nice and tall and golden.
Then, to bring out the lemon flavor even more, Dorie has a lemon glaze for the muffins. You’re supposed to mix lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar for it, but I didn’t want to cut up another lemon to juice, so I used a bit of water and lemon extract instead. I think lemon juice would be nicer, so I’ll probably use that next time. I dipped the muffins into the glaze so that it dripped very prettily all down the sides (note to self…next time use parchment or something under the cooling rack. It created quite a mess!).
The resulting muffins were nice and tender, moist, a little crunchy from the poppy seeds, and had a nice lemon flavor – not too strong. I’ll definitely make these again, and they’d be great with coffee. I ended up eating them on my way to work for the next week, and while they were good, they are definitely best on the first day.
Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
Slightly adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan (page 10)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 lemon – zest and juice, divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sour cream (light or regular – I used light, and it turned out just as well. I imagine nonfat would work as well.)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (alternatively, you could use about 1/2 tablespoon lemon extract and make up the rest with water)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F with the rack in center position.
- Grease a 12 cup muffin tin (I used baking spray).
- Melt the butter in a medium bowl and set aside to cool. I melted it in the microwave, but on the stove would work too.
- Meanwhile, put the sugar in a large bowl and zest the lemon over the sugar into the bowl. Rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingers till it’s well mixed and the sugar is moist. The texture should be a little bit like brown sugar – crumbly and a little bit damp.
- Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In the bowl with the melted, cooled butter, add the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, and juice from the lemon. Whisk to combine – it will be nice and creamy.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry, and mix gently just till combined. It’s okay if there are some lumps.
- Add the poppy seeds and mix gently.
- Divide evenly between the 12 muffin cups – they were almost full for me; a little over 3/4 full.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes until the tops are golden and a toothpick comes out clean.
- Place on a cooling rack and cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes then transfer to the cooling rack.
- Meanwhile, for the glaze, sift the confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl and mix in about 1.5 tablespoons of the lemon juice (or water/lemon extract mixture) and stir. It will be quite thick.
- Add in more lemon juice, a drop or two at a time, till it’s thin enough to drizzle, but not too runny.
- Dip the muffins into the glaze, or drizzle over the tops.