Friday, April 9, 2010

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins - Again.

The nice thing about favorite childhood treats is that they remain stuck in your mind like brick. The not so nice part is that sometimes, you realize that you no longer have the same tastes as you did when you were six years old.

Take bread, for example. Whenever we came to France for the summer or for Christmas, I never went for the "good bread". You know, the crunchy crust that hides a soft and fragrant crumb. The type of baguette you look at and dream of breaking in half, before eating it all up. For most people, that is good bread. The strange thing is, I never enjoyed it. Before you ask, I didn't grow up on Wonder Bread or any type of sandwich bread. I've always loved sourdough and bread with grains. But when it came down to a baguette, I only wanted one type: the baguette from Champion. Not the sports equipment brand: my baguette was not a hooded sweatshirt in disguise, or a boxing glove for that matter. Champion was a local grocery store in Saint Dié, and I sure loved the bread there. 

Picture it: undercooked, a soft crust, absolutely not golden in the least. Oh, and I should mention it had this special industrial-like taste that you never find in real bread from a boulangerie. I don't know why, but I loved it. Especially when it was "fresh" (or should I say defrosted) and still warm, I could eat the whole thing up in mere minutes, always to the amazement of my maman. I think she never really understood why I didn't enjoy the real baguettes we had in the house. I wouldn't eat the crust and just pick at the crumb until the baguette was just a hollow tube. Geez, what an annoying kid.

Now that I live on my own, I don't buy bread all that often--the main reason being that I would eat it all day long, and my stomach wouldn't have any space left for yummy fruits and vegetables. However, I was grocery shopping this morning and spotted a mini-baguette, also called déjeunette at my local Champion. I looked it over, and turned it on all its underbaked sides. After some debating, I went ahead and got it, pretty sure it would give me the industrial bread jolt I needed. And guess what? It didn't. I bit into it and immediately regretted not getting a "demi-baguette" from the bakery next door. I wanted the crunch, I wanted the freshly baked taste. And this little déjeunette gave me none of that. 

Now, there's one thing undercooked baguette is good with: milk chocolate. The instructions are pretty simple: bar of chocolate slipped into bread, eaten like a sandwich. Try it.

Staying on the subject of treats, I haven't outgrown lemon poppy seed muffins yet. If you remember, I can get pretty obsessive: here, and here. This time around, I tried out a Dorie Greenspan recipe with sour cream for the nice moist touch, and a nice amount of lemon. I left out the lemon glaze at the end, and ended up with a delicious muffin that could have benefited from an extra sugar jolt. It was really good on its own and would be fitting for a breakfast treat, but for a teatime snack, the glaze would have been nice as well.

In other words, if you--like me--are still on the lookout for the best lemon poppy seed muffin recipe out there, give this one a try. This isn't underbaked industrial bread--I promise you won't grow out of it.

Lemon Poppy-Seed Muffins
makes 12 - I made 6 jumbo and 12 mini

adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan

For the Muffins:
2/3 c. sugar
Grated zest and juice of 2 organic or untreated lemons
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 TS baking powder
1/4TS  baking soda
1/4 TS salt
3/4 c. sour cream
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 113g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 TB poppy seeds

For the Icing:
1 c. confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2-3 TB fresh lemon juice

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400° F / 200°C.  Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups.

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.

Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In 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 the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend.  Stir in the poppy seeds--a few lumps in the batter is fine.

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

Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from pan and cool completely on rack before icing.

To make the icing: Put the confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl and add about 1 1/2 TB of the lemon juice.  Stir with a spoon to moisten the sugar, then add enough lemon juice to get an icing that is thin enough to drizzle from the tip of the spoon.  Coat muffins or drizzle with icing.
Print this post


Mary said...

These look wonderful. It's always so nice to have someone else work out the kinks in a recipe :-). I've duly noted your comments about the glaze. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

Barbara said...

Love your tip about chocolate in undercooked baguettes!
The thing I have dreams about is Pain Poilane. Oh my! I love it.

Anyway, I love your poppy seed muffins! And Dorie's recipe looks excellent. Will try them soon...I got one of those square muffin pans so I'll try them out in that.

Cinnamon-Girl said...

You are so right about childhood food memories - reliving them never tastes as good as the memory. We must be on the same wavelength - I made strawberry poppy seed muffins. Your lemon ones look lovely!

grace said...

i'm pretty keen on lemon poppy seed muffins, which is weird since i don't really like lemon in anything else. i think the seeds save the day--they're so fun. :)

Anonymous said...

I love lemon and poppy seeds muffins. Sadly they don't sell poppy seeds in Singapore. But i've been meaning to use black sesame a substitute!

Lazaro Cooks! said...

Saw your profile on another page. Glad I took the time to read your informative and well-written blog. Look forward to following you here. Have a great night. Cheers!

Lucie said...

Mary: Thanks! The glaze really really would make a difference.

Barbara: Ohhh, Pain Poilane. I love it as well--always have some on hand in my mini-freezer!

Cinnamon Girl: Those strawberry muffins...yum!

Grace: Although I'm a lemon lover, I definitely agree that lemon muffins aren't nearly as fun!

Vicky: That would be such an interesting combination! I'd be excited to find out what it tastes like.

Lazaro: Thanks! I hope you enjoy the rest of the site :)

The Domestic Adventurer said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly on the lemon poppy seed bread. I don't think I could ever tire of it either.

Emily said...

I love lemon poppyseed muffins. They're my absolute favorite!

Lucie said...

I'm starting to think it would be a good idea to create some kind of lemon poppy seed club and see how many variations on a lemon poppy seed muffin we can bake...