Friday, May 31, 2013

Lemon Poppyseed Mini Muffins

Plate of squarish flat-top muffins, perfectly golden and delicious
Next Time They'll Look Better

Recipe by Robin

We have a lemon angel at my day job. Every week or two during winter and early spring, a sign appears outside the techie’s printing/photocopying/microwaving room. “Free Lemons,” it declares, punctuated by a few yellow clip art lemons in case techies need visual convincing. I picked up quite a few of these throughout the season, and wanted to surprise my colleagues and give something back to Source—source of the lemons, that is. I had poppyseeds in the freezer from last year’s harvest, and dreamed of perfect poppyseed mini muffins. Unfortunately, the muffin reality didn’t match the dream.

Muffin Batter Spread Over Entire Muffin Pan
Buttermilk Fail Not Unlike Lava Flow
According to America’s Test Kitchen, lowfat yogurt produces the finest crumb and most rounded muffin top. And creaming the butter rather than melting it makes the most tender muffins.  While I agreed about the creaming, I didn’t have lowfat yogurt, so decided that lowfat buttermilk was close enough. Wrong. Instead of puffing up with perfectly rounded top, the thinner batter spread out like a sheet cake over the top of the entire muffin pan. Never argue with science.

Since I’d found organic lemon curd on sale back in December I used it as muffin filling. This is effectively, if not neatly, accomplished by adding a small spoonful of curd to the top of each muffin before baking. The muffin will rise and bake around it. You can substitute raspberry jam if you don’t have lemon curd. Or skip the filling and use the classic glaze recipe, originally made up by Donna Reed for her lemon pudding (package) cake recipe, if urban legend can be believed.

Batter with Poppyseeds, Lemon Zest, and Flavoring ready to mix in
Adding Lemon Juice and Zest, Poppyseeds, and Vanilla
Although my buttermilk muffins were salvageable, and actually quite delicious, I didn’t think they were an appropriate gift for a lemon angel. However, they will make a nice surprise for a guy in my marimba band. When I told him about the muffin Recipe Fail, he said, “It will be so worth it to get the recipe right. I love those things!” And so he will get some at his daughter’s graduation party before we play music tomorrow. Both musicians and college students tend to be very forgiving in the homemade food department.

Lemon Curd will Become Filling After Baking
Lemon Poppyseed Mini Muffins
makes about 30 mini muffins

2 cups flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ cup soft butter
1 cup evaporated cane juice (sugar)
2 eggs
1 cup lowfat yogurt (no substitutes!)
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (1 lemons)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 - 2 tbsp. lemon zest (2 lemons)
3 tbsp. poppyseed
Premade lemon curd or
Raspberry jam

1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tbsp. lemon juice (1 lemon)

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Lightly grease mini muffin pans with butter, or spray with no-stick oil spray.

In a separate bowl, cream butter. Add sugar and cream together. Beat in eggs one at a time until smooth. Stir in yogurt till batter is consistent. Stir in lemon juice, vanilla, lemon zest, and poppyseed.

Spoon into prepared mini muffin pans. It’s easiest to scoop batter up with a soup spoon and scrape it off the soup spoon into the muffin tins with a teaspoon.

Add water to any empty openings in the muffin pan, about 1/2 to 2/3 full. This prevents uneven baking.

If using filling: add about ½ tsp. drop of lemon curd or jam to the top of each muffin. You can use a measuring spoon to scoop up the filling, and a smaller spoon or spatula to scrape it onto each muffin.

Bake at 375 degrees F. until risen and slightly golden on edges, about 18 minutes.

Place muffin pans on cooling racks until cool enough to handle. For crispiest muffins, take muffins out of the pans as soon as they are cool enough to hold their shape when removed. Cool completely on cooling racks.

If using glaze: Sift confectioner’s sugar if lumpy. Stir in lemon juice. Drizzle from spoon onto completely cooled muffins, or spread a teaspoonful or so of glaze on each muffin.

You could also choose to make these as regular sized muffins. In that case, bake about 25 – 30 minutes, and recipe will yield about 1 dozen.

A Bit Squarish, But Musicians Like 'Em

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