For a long time I did not come across a lemon cake, a lemon tart or a lemon pudding that really deserved an applause. At least not until last week. On occasions where I tried the lemon cheesecake from the best of the restaurants served as a part of their buffet menu in Bangalore, it was terribly disappointing; all failing to leave the lasting impression that would instigate my taste buds to bake and recreate the same lemony desserts at home. Probably that's why I often show least enthusiasm towards all desserts lemony or intensely tart. I made some rarely at home with unsatisfactory results and the ones I ate out were too tart for my tastes. I like to leave the matrimony of lemon and sugar for a well deserved lemonade or those flavored Ravalgaon lemon candies - if you may remember, our parents gave us to suck on for hours as kids while on travel in those dilapidated State Transport buses to fight nauseating attacks.
We went out shopping for groceries yesterday. Yes, it was mid-week, but we had to go. That way we make an excuse to drive and take our daughter out every evening.
Three big lemons went into my grocery bag last evening, of sizes that resembled the country oranges we get in India. They are a must in my kitchen, in almost every dinner I make. Today, a part of it went into making these lemon poppy muffins, quite close to the one we had for our breakfast in Buffalo, NY last week.
I set out to make these muffins for another trial (sadly some of my past trials with all lemon based desserts had ended in the bin), but they turned out so good that I wanted to record them. So here are the muffins, 4 domed ones I got from the said measurement below. Tweaked, tried and tested over many attempts till I found them good to strike their delicate balance in sweetness, the zest and tang. Good bye to those lemony treats in the past that went into my garbage bins, because they were not to my expectations and rendered futile effort. These will not twitch your brows, nor make you wink with their piquancy. They have perceptible fragrance, gratifying flavor, neither intensely tart, but zesty enough to tickle and refresh your taste buds. They are really really subtle and gentle, so forgive me if you find them too low on lemon notes. And just in case you are like me, you will certainly like these.
There's my little one, cross legged on the black floor couch in the living room, digging down deep into those muffins. She refused to eat her breakfast today. These muffins were made to bribe.
Lemon and Poppy Seed Muffins
Makes 4 regular muffins or 8 mini muffins
1/2 cup heaped all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 cup poppy seeds
Zest from 2 large lemons
1/2 lemon juice squeezed
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 olive oil
1/8 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Pre-heat the oven to 350 deg F. Line a muffin tin and set aside.
To make muffins, use the fingertips to gently rub the zests from 2 lemons into the sugar till the lemon oil and its flavor are released into the sugar. I recommend spending at least 5 minutes doing this, since it brings out amazingly refreshing flavor and pale yellow color. Next add the egg, oil, milk, vanilla extract and whisk well.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into the wet ingredients. Then add poppy seeds and gently mix the wet and ingredients till just combined. Few lumps here and there is just fine.
Spoon the batter to muffin cups up till the 3/4th and bake for 20 minutes at 350 deg F. Remove and allow to cool on a rack to room temperature and serve.