I have made lemon poppy seed muffins twice before these. The first time, the muffins ended up like tiny and flat pale cakes. The second time, the muffins looked so perfectly gorgeous but were a bit tough, similar to the sentiments of other people who had made the recipe too. In both cases, the muffins weren’t lemony enough for my taste. And I do love anything lemony and tangy in general. The more I pucker up, the better.
But why the obsession with making lemon poppy seed muffins? No particular reason. Although I do remember having this huge lemon poppy seed muffin before which was so very tangy and lemony, it was pure love! I’ve been looking for a recipe that recreates that and so far, there has been none. Well, that and I had lemon- lots and lots of lemon- and a bottle of poppy seeds in the pantry that were just waiting to be used.
Lemon-Drenched Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
adapted from The Way The Cookie Crumbles, originally from Cooks Illustrated | Makes 1 dozen large or 20 regular-sized muffins
Possibly the best part about these muffins was the moistness, and also the glossy, glossy glaze. It’s the moistest lemon poppy seed muffin I’ve baked, with perfectly thick and scoop-able. You can also probably say that using yogurt gives it a point above the others in the health department.
For the muffins:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons poppy seeds (or more if you like it crunchier)
½ teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons or 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar, less 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 large eggs
1 ½ cups plain yogurt (low fat is fine)
For the syrup glaze:
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed (about 1 ½ to 2 medium lemons)
1. To make the muffins: Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 375°F (190°C). Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, poppy seeds, and salt in medium bowl; set aside.
2. Beat butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add lemon zest to butter-sugar mixture. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. Beat in one-half of dry ingredients. Beat in one-third of yogurt. Beat in remaining dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with yogurt, until incorporated. [At this point, it’s perfectly fine to just use a spatula if you’re afraid of over-mixing the batter.]
4. Grease muffin tin with vegetable cooking spray/butter. [Or use plain-old cupcake liners]. Use an ice cream scoop to divide batter evenly among cups.
5. Bake until muffins are golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Set on wire rack to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove muffins from tin and glaze.
6. To make the glaze: While muffins are baking, heat 1/4 cup granulated sugar and lemon juice in small saucepan until sugar dissolves and mixture forms light syrup, 3 to 4 minutes. Brush warm syrup over warm muffins and serve. [I let the muffins sit a few minutes to absorb the syrup]
The second muffin recipe had received quite a few positive reviews from the site I got it from, so I was eager to see if it would match up with the gorgeousness of the first batch. I was also fairly excited about these muffins because of the 1/2 cup of lemon juice zing it would contain.
Lemony Poppy Seed Muffins
adapted from Food.com | makes 12 large or 16 regular-sized muffins
One of my brothers likes to call this “the blue muffins” because it casts kind of a bluish hue in dim light. The muffin batter was a bit runny, probably because of the amount of lemon juice I put. It still wasn’t as lemony as I was expecting given that amount of lemon, though it was still yummy. As you can see in the photo below, compared to the lovely yellow batter of the previous recipe [left], this batter was very nearly white, reminiscent of mashed dragon fruit.
For the muffins:
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
¼ cup poppy seeds (or less if you like only a slight crunch)
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 medium lemon’s zest
1/3 to ½ cup lemon juice (according to taste)
For the optional sweet glaze:
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice (according to taste)
1. To make the muffins: Adjust rack to top third of oven and preheat to 350°F (180°C). Grease muffin tin with shortening or use muffin liners.
2. In large bowl mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and poppy seeds. Grate lemon zest and add to the mixture, stirring well.
3. In separate bowl combine buttermilk, oil and eggs, whisking gently.
4. Squeeze juice from lemon to form 1/3 cup and pour lemon juice into dry ingredients and blend slightly (keeping the lemon juice separate from milk will prevent curdling).
5. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix only until blended, Do not over mix.
6. Spoon into tin and bake until top is slightly golden, about 18 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
7. To make the sweet glaze, if using: Beat powdered sugar and lemon juice until you get a stiff mixture. If it’s a little too thick for your taste, add some milk until you get to your desired consistency.
Cutting into the first muffin, my fork went straight through without a hitch, and the insides were a beautiful yellow colour. In comparison, the second recipe was a bit tougher and kind of pale.
And speaking of the colour, the lemon-drenched ones look a lot more appetizing to my brothers, with their tops more muffin-like as well. Despite the ½ cup lemon juice contained in the second recipe, the first one still ended up tasting more lemony, which prompted me to glaze the second batch with the syrup as well, also because I had a lot left over. I don’t like powdered sugar so much, so I skipped that type of glaze altogether.
I wouldn’t recommend keeping these muffins in the fridge for too long. They lasted a day or two in room temperature just fine, but once I put them in the fridge, they became hard [but still chewable, so don't worry!]. Heating them in the toaster oven softens them up a bit though.
The winner: By unanimous vote, I crown the Lemon-Drenched Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins the best version of lemon poppy seed muffins I have baked so far (and will be baking for a while!). I labored over these within a day, and needless to say, I ended up with more muffins than I wish to feed my family. Being the baker in the house, I also have to be responsible for regulating the sugar intake, don’t I? So this was a fine excuse to break out these gorgeous cupcake boxes I bought on a whim last year. (Or was that my Mum?) I packed three boxes of six muffins (3 from each recipe in a box), and sent them off to my maternal grandparents, an aunt and one of my cousins. Thanks to my youngest brother for holding out the box in the last photo!
PS. This was my first serious food shoot with the tripod and all. It was a lot of fun!