Generally I associate citrus fruits with the winter months, but when it comes to lemons, I embrace them during the Spring and Summer months as well. They pair so well with the seasonal fruits like rhubarb, berries, and melon. They help make a refreshing cold beverage. And don't forget about that lemon curd. But since it is still early Spring and the rhubarb in my garden is not quite ready and the berries and melon in the market are not at their peaks, I hoard most of them for baked goods recipes.
Prior to last week, I had a go-to lemon-poppy seed muffin recipe that I loved. When I came across this one, however, I knew it was time for a change. It is similar to the recipe that I had used before, but it uses yogurt in place of sour cream. Instead of adding the lemon juice to the batter, the lemon juice is reserved to make a syrup to brush on the muffins while they are still warm from the oven. This keeps the already perfect crumb moist and tender. I added a little vanilla because I rarely bake something sweet without it. Like the corn bread, I let the batter rest a few minutes before filling the muffin tins. This allows for a perfect bakery-style muffin crown. And if that wasn't enough, I drizzle the top with a lemon sugar glaze making it a perfect balance of sweet and tang. I now...introduce to you...the ultimate lemon-poppy seed muffin!
Lemon-Poppy Seed Muffins
For the Muffins
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
3 Tablespoons poppy seeds
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups plain low-fat yogurt
2 extra large eggs, at room temperature
1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 Tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the Glaze (optional)
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2-3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the Muffins
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat the oven to 375º F. Butter and flour a 12-cup muffin tin; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, 1 cup of the sugar, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla extract until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, fold the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture just until combined. Fold in the melted butter; allow the batter to rest for 5 minutes. (Batter can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.)
Using a greased 1/3-cup measuring cup or ice cream scoop, divide the batter among the cups. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking.
Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until slightly thickened and syrupy, about 3 minutes. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then gently flip them out onto a wire rack. Brush with warm syrup and let cool for 10 minutes. If using the glaze, allow to cool completely.
For the Glaze
In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Spoon some of the glaze over each muffin. Allow the glaze to set before serving. Enjoy!
Source: Adapted from Cook's Country, April/May 2012