Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

lemon poppy seed muffins

Sometimes I want a recipe that has a little technique to it. Last night’s gingerbread was quick and easy, but this afternoon I wanted something that required a little more finesse. I knew I’d found the right recipe when I read this tasty direction:

In a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of lemon strong.

The recipe had three other things going for it:

  1. I’ve never made lemon poppy seed muffins before.
  2. Each muffin is only 6 Weight Watchers Points Plus, but there’s still butter & sugar in the recipe.
  3. I had some sour cream to use up, exactly the amount needed.

I also liked that step one was melting and cooling the butter. It’s just that little extra effort I was looking for. I got that started, then picked up the lemon and started zesting.

Last month I finally bought a proper Microplane zester. I’d been using the cheese grater up until then, and it works fine, but it’s not the elegant experience one gets from using a well-designed tool for the specific purpose for which it was created.

Microplane zester

It’s nice, right? It’s a game-changer in the zesting department. Dave, of the lime-honey marinade, agrees.

I zested the lemon, then poured in the sugar. I mixed it with my fingers, as instructed, but when I went to take a picture, I realized that my right hand was full of lemon zest and sugar and I am not really capable of taking a picture with my left hand. I know because I tried.

So I faked it. I washed up again, then pretended I was using my left hand, which I wasn’t REALLY using because my thumb has a Phineas & Ferb band-aid on it, and classy as that is, I didn’t want the band-aid getting into the food.

Phineas & Ferb band-aid

zest and sugar, hand-mixed


But really, I did mix it with my fingers, and as instructed, the sugar was moist and the lemon smell was strong. So far, so good.  I added the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and whisked it all together with my super whisk.

Then I squeezed the juice of the lemon into a Pyrex measuring cup. It was nice to get to use the juice for a change; I’ve made loaves with lemon zest before but usually I have to pitch the lemons and it feels terribly wasteful. To the lemon juice, I added sour cream, vanilla, eggs, and the melted butter. It looked gross at first:

wet ingredients in pyrex

But once whisked together, it started to look more appetizing.


At that point Nathaniel & Juliet came rushing in from the playground, happy but thirsty, begging for juice. I hate those juice boxes, they’re such a waste of packaging, but I relented yesterday and bought them because the kids got me at a weak moment.

Nathaniel and Juliet drinking

Kid-thirst slaked, it was time to mix everything together. I was careful not to overmix. All the muffin recipes say that, but the specificity in this one made me take a little extra care.  Once that was done to my satisfaction, I added the poppy seeds.

tablespoon of poppy seeds

And once I stirred them in, it looked like this:

batter complete

After a quick taste test, I scooped it into the muffin cups.

batter in muffin cups

The recipe said to bake them at 400 degrees, so I pre-heated to 425 and then reduced the temperature to 400 after getting them into the oven. Fifteen minutes later, they were done. And surprise: they looked beautiful! The Curse of Laurie’s Ugly  Baked Goods has been lifted, at least for today. Check ‘em out.

lemon poppy seed muffins

lemon poppy seed muffins

And the bottom line is always taste, and these did not disappoint. I’m thinking a little more lemon juice next time, maybe, but nobody here is complaining and they have poppy seeds in their teeth and lemon-breath, so I think we’re good. It’s a light & delicious treat, and a worthy task for a Saturday afternoon. Now we’re watching Spy Kids and looking forward to Dave’s grilled chicken for dinner and lemon poppy seed muffins and gingerbread cake for dessert.


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