2.18.2011

Lemon-Yogurt-Poppy Seed Muffins


. It's kind of ironic how on Tuesday I felt like complaining about not having time during the week to bake and what do you know, somehow extra hours found themselves creeping into my night! Well, not exactly.  I would say I kind of forced the issue but I managed.

It's been a little stressful at work, so I felt a deep obligation to bring some kind of goodie in to lift every one's spirits (just kidding, they don't really do that but it's a great rationalization to bake, right?!).  Since I'm sure there's been an overload of chocolate lately (wait, is that even possible?) since Valentine's Day just passed, I wanted to try out something a little "lighter" in flavor.  But what to do, what to do?

Ah, ha!  Lemon.  Fresh, cheery, and perfect for this 60°F weather we've been having (oh, believe it!  I live in Omaha, NE and it has been in the 60s this past week, people don't know how to act without their winter jackets!).  Taking a recipe from my go-to baker, Marcy Goldman and her book A Passion for Baking, I decided to go breakfasty and test out Lemon-Yogurt-Poppy Seed Muffins.  Quite honestly, I don't even think I've ever purchased a poppy seed muffin let alone made anything with poppy seeds.  The first thought that popped into my head was "where do you even buy poppy seeds?!"  Sad, I know.

These muffins are very good: super moist, fantastic lemony flavor, and wonderful to wake up to in the morning.  HOWEVER, I have to admit that I think the whole lemon/poppy seed thing is just not for me.  Yes, I devoured one [or two] of these muffins, but I finally came to terms that I'm a chocolate connoisseur through and through.  But hey, it's not all about me and my favorites!  I want to share a variety of goodies that will interest everyone and these are definitely worth sharing!  And don't take my prior comment the wrong way, I truthfully can't say anything bad about these muffins, they are scrumptious!  Let me demonstrate: 18 muffins arrived at our office today at 8:00 A.M.  By 9:09 A.M., there were three left (I wandered to the bathroom at this time and snuck a peek at the plate).  At exactly 10:00 A.M., my co-worker brought to my desk the empty platter.  And this was without any announcement that something had been brought in!  That has to say something about the quality of this treat.

So just in time for the weekend and breakfast with your honey, I give you Lemon-Yogurt-Poppy Seed Muffins .

Lemon-Yogurt-Poppy Seed Muffins


Ingredients:
Muffin:
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 c. sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp. lemon extract
1 c. plain yogurt
2-1/4 to 2-1/2 c. all purpose flour
2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 to 4 tbsp. poppy seeds

Lemon Syrup:
3/4 c. water
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon extract
1 c. sugar

Directions:

1.  Heat oven 375°F.  Arrange oven rack to middle position.  Line large 12-cup muffin pan with liners.

2.  In mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Blend in eggs, vanilla extract, lemon juice, lemon zest, lemon extract, and yogurt.  Blend well; fold in flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds.


3.  Scoop generous amount of batter into muffin cups (load cups full; batter should stay in place.  If it topples over, add more flour to remaining batter.)

*And here is where I must interject!  For my first batch of muffins, I followed the directions precisely, loading the cups with almost all of the batter since it says it only makes a dozen muffins.  However, I had a little overflow issue (see two pictures below) and I pretty much ended up with square muffin tops.  SO, I tried the recipe a second time, only filling the cups about 3/4 full, which resulted in the muffins two pictures above.  If appearance doesn't interest you much and you love muffin tops, then go with the original recipe.  Or if you're like me and want more petite muffins, follow my instructions.  Okay, continue...


4.  Bake 28 to 32 minutes or until nicely browned around edges and muffins are set.

Plush, but square!
5.  For syrup, simmer water, lemon juice, lemon extract, and sugar over low heat for 5 minutes.  Cool well.

6.  Brush baked muffins 2 or 3 times with syrup while still warm.  Let cool 5 minutes before removing from pan.


Yield: 12 muffins

*My Notes:
  • To zest a lemon, you're going to need a microplane.  Truthfully, this is one of my FAVORITE baking tools.  I can't explain it, but I just love this thing ☺  If you don't own a microplane, use another grater, but make sure to finely mince the zest so you don't have large chunks of lemon rind in the batter.
  • In order to get the maximum amount of juice out of your lemon, roll the lemon on the counter a few times.  This releases some of the juices so you'll get the most out of your produce.
  • I used 3 tbsp. of poppyseeds and the one critique I got about these muffins was that this might have been just a tad much.  Again, I don't exactly know how poppyseed muffins are expected to taste but next time I will stick to only 2 tbsp.
  • As I mentioned above, I only filled the cups about 3/4 full the second go-around.  This resulted in a smaller muffin without tops and made exactly 18 muffins.  If you're a muffin top lover, don't use my suggestions.  But to also avoid getting square tops, don't overload the cups either.  Somewhere in between will work nicely!

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