Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lemon Yogurt Poppy Seed Muffins

Lemon Yogurt Poppy Seed Muffins - made February 15, 2010 from A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman

I'm currently reading the Corinna Chapman series by Kerry Greenwood. Corinna is a baker and she has a 15-year-old apprentice, Jason, who's a recovering heroin addict who'd been living on the streets until Corinna took him under her wing and gave him a chance. Jason had a talent for baking and an aptitude for making muffins that were better than Corinna's. They used the same recipe, same methods, same ovens yet Jason's muffins were always better than hers. Based on my own muffin experiences, I'm more like Corinna than I am like Jason.

In case you can't tell from the picture, which looks like a bunch of misshapen flat tops, those are actually lemon poppyseed muffins. Or rather, muffins gone awry. I just can't get the hang of muffins. I know all the tricks "by the book" such as stirring as little as possible, putting into an oven that's a higher temperature so you get that spring of the muffin top, etc. When I used to live and work in San Francisco, there was one place downtown that had the best muffins - the tops were brown and crunchy and the rest of the muffin was moist and flavorful. A Jason type probably made those. Once again, let me repeat: I'm not a Jason, I'm a Corinna. That means these were edible but honestly, just okay. I spread the batter amongst only 12 muffin cups which meant they ended up too full. The muffin tops spread all over the muffin tin but never really sprang up, despite the 2 teaspoons of baking powder in the batter. They didn't dome and they didn't brown. Taste-wise, they were only okay. I don't know if it was me or the recipe but based on my previous muffin track record, it might've been me. The only substitution I made was buttermilk instead of yogurt but even that shouldn't have torpedoed the recipe completely. Oh and I only made half the lemon syrup as I knew that would've been more than enough for 12 muffins and I was right.

ETA: I had to edit this entry as a couple of my coworkers who tried the muffins raved about them today while we were at lunch. I almost couldn't believe it. I thought I had totally blown it with these muffins and was a general muffin-baking failure. Just goes to show everyone has different tastes, lol.

Muffin Batter
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup shortening (or use all butter)
1 ½ cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon, finely minced
1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
1 cup plain yogurt
2 ¼ to 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 to 4 tablespoons poppy seeds

Lemon syrup
¾ cup water
¼ cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 cup sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375˚F. Arrange oven rack to middle position. Line a large 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners and place pan on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
2. In a mixer bowl, cream butter with shortening until smooth and creamy. Blend in sugar and the eggs, vanilla, lemon juice, zest, lemon extract, and yogurt. Blend well; then fold in flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and poppy seeds.
3. Using a large ice-cream scoop, scoop a generous amount of batter into prepared muffin cups. Make sure you load muffin cups full, but deposit one muffin first as a test – batter should stay in place. If it topples over, that means you should add a bit more flour to remaining batter.
4. Bake until nicely browned around edges and muffins are set, about 28 to 32 minutes.
5. For lemon syrup, simmer water, lemon juice, extract, and sugar over low heat 5 minutes. Cool well.
6. Brush baked poppy seed muffins 2 to 3 times with Lemon Syrup while they are still warm. Let cool 5 minutes before removing from pan.

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