Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Muffins - two different flavors and techniques

When I'm searching through our cookbooks and recipe piles looking for the next Wednesday Treat Day recipe to make, I also have to keep in mind what the resulting yield will be. I try to make enough so everyone who wants gets a chance to try them or take a couple treats home to share with their family. When it comes to recipes that don't make a lot, I will either double it or make two different recipes, but keep in the same "family". So, when Jeff mentioned he thought it would be nice to bring in muffins, I decided to make two different recipes in the interest of variety.

For this first recipe, Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins, be sure to get the freshest poppy seeds that you can - because of their oils, the can go rancid quickly if you don't store them in the freezer. The first step in this recipe is a little unique - using your fingertips, you rub the lemon zest into granulated sugar to evenly distribute the zest and infuse the batter with the first layer of lemon flavor. Sour cream added to the batter gives these golden muffins a wonderful tender texture with fresh lemon juice adding the next layer of lemon. We wanted to make these a little more special, so we added a dollop of raspberry jam inside the batter before we completely filled up the muffin cups. You could change that up and make some with blueberry jam or even use lemon curd to keep the lemon theme going.

Unlike the next recipe, this one only needs a couple bowls and a whisk/wooden spoon to mix together, so it comes together a little more quickly. If you are like us and prefer a light "crust" to the outside of muffins, forgo muffin liners and just lightly coat the muffin tin with nonstick spray - otherwise use muffin liners. Once cooled, we added the final layer of lemon with a sweet drizzle of confectioners' sugar mixed with tangy fresh lemon juice.

Today's second adventure in muffin baking was a recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins. This muffin follows a more cake-like way to mix the ingredients as softened butter is creamed with the sugar first. With yet another excuse to let bananas turn dark and ripe, I may need to seek out those cheap bags of "too ripe to sell" bananas at the market and store some in the freezer. I think this is even the third recipe in just a few days that uses them! Tall and moist, these have a strong banana flavor with a hint of spice coming from fresh grated nutmeg along with a dash of allspice. Ample amounts of bittersweet chocolate chunks are distributed throughout each muffin, which is always a good match to bananas. If you want a bit of crunch to these muffins, toss in a couple handfuls of toasted chopped walnuts or pecans.


  1. Hey, Joe. I never thought about poppy seeds going rancid. I'm off to put my unopened jar from Penzey's in the freezer now.

    Oh, by the way, the muffins look fantastic.

  2. I bought one of those bags the other day for $1 and it had NINE bananas in it! Five of them are in my freezer, 3 in some bread, and one in the trash...it had burst open and I was scared to use it! You make me want something with poppy seeds in it! Maybe poppyseed chicken with my leftover chicken.

  3. Oh dear - you make me want to head straight into the kitchen to start baking right now...but's it's almost 11:00 p.m. here! Darn it!

  4. I have a recipe for banana bread with chocolate chips *and* peanut butter--it's really tasty. If you'd like it, let me know! My husband devours them whenever I make them.

  5. Your muffins look wonderful..

    I made the mistake of not checking my poppy seeds once.. oh what a horrific taste they lent to my bread!

  6. Mindy - Thanks! Yeah, it is quite unpleasant when they go rancid!

    Claire - Those bags are great! I don't get to use poppy seeds enough... hmm what next?

    lowcountry foodie - hee hee!

    Jen - That certainly sounds tempting!

    Melody - I can imagine! D'oh!