Let me start by saying, I've never been a big fan of poppy seed muffins. With the myriad of muffin varieties out there, poppy seed has just never been my first choice...or my second...or third, fourth or fifth. But when you're baking for others, you make things that aren't your favorite and sometimes you discover new favorites along the way.
Pat loves lemon poppy seed muffins, so I decided to make a batch early one Saturday morning. I turned to Baking by Dorie Greenspan- if I was going to bake something I wasn't particularly fond of, at least I was going to do it right. Dorie suggested baking the muffins with a touch of jam or curd in the center, an idea which I was particularly psyched about and highly recommend to anyone trying this recipe. I bought some great blueberry preserves and a few other ingredients and proceeded on my merry way.
The results far exceeded my expectations. The muffins were delicious and I, the lemon poppy seed hater, could not get enough of them. The muffins themselves are not too sweet and taste much like sour cream cake with a strong hit of acidity from the lemon zest and juice in the batter. The sweetness of the blueberry preserves complements the tart lemon flavor perfectly. The glaze has a nice lemon flavor as well, but is very sweet, so a little goes a long way. If you're toying with the idea of leaving something out, I would say skip the glaze, not the filling.
These muffins are definitely best the day they're made, so bake for a crowd or make sure you've got a few people with big appetites. You won't want to waste any.
On a completely unrelated note, a few life updates- I finished my half marathon (hooray!) and am finally moving into my own apartment next month! No more roommates. Although I'll be sad to say goodbye to my wonderful apartment and beautiful view, I can't wait to get my new kitchen set up and will make sure and post some pictures once I do.
Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
2/3 c sugar
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tbsp poppy seeds
Your favorite jam or preserves for filling
1 c powdered sugar, sifted
2-3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400° F. Butter or spray a regular-sized muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray. Fill the pan with paper liners, if you would like. I prefer to put the batter straight into the pan. Place pan onto a baking sheet.
In a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of lemon is strong. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and melted butter together until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with a whisk or rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don't worry about being thorough, a few lumps are better than overmixing the batter. Stir in the poppy seeds.
If using a filling, divide batter among the muffin cups so that each is about half full. Add a spoonful of the filling of your choice and then top with remaining batter. Cups should be almost, if not totally, full. If not using filling, simply divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. While the muffins are baking, make the glaze.
Put powdered sugar in a bowl and add about 1 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice. Stir with a spoon to moisten sugar, then add enough extra lemon juice (a dribble at a time) to get a glaze that is thin enough to drizzle from the tip of the spoon.
After muffins are done baking, transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let sit for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold. If not using paper liners, run a knife around the outside of the muffins to separate from the pan and tilt the pan slightly to allow muffins to slide out. Cool muffins completely before drizzling with a small amount of glaze.
Source: Baking: From my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan