Happy May days! Don’t you just love May. With all my chatter about cookbooks, (see this post), I wanted to share with you another priceless volume that I have in my rather extensive collection. Yes, it’s true, I cannot deny that I am somewhat of a cookbook, lets say, “collector”. I browse them like magazines and read them like, well … novels. They make up a great deal of my reading pleasure and a large percentage of my limited weight allotment when travelling. Truth be told, I have a cookbook bag in my bedroom and at the first sign of a road trip, I excitedly carry it out to the car. With my shelves burgeoning from the weight and at the risk of giving in to this small obsession of mine, these days it takes the will of a lion to steer myself clear of cookbook displays, as I vow to cook and bake my way through the ones I already have before purchasing any new editions. Fingers crossed.
In December of 1999, my husband’s youngest sister, Lynda rolled up her sleeves and took on the monumental task of assembling a family cookbook to usher in the new millennium. For Christmas, she presented each of us with a bright yellow spiral bound collection of our family’s favourite recipes, some of which have been passed down through the last century and some which are new additions, donated by some of the newer members of the family (Hmm, hmm, yours truly being one of them). There may be others, but I know for sure, that this book is a family treasure and a kitchen fixture in our home as well as the homes of my 3 sister-in-laws and my husband’s mom.
Because my mother-in-law is one of those magical bakers (not to mention cook) where everything she serves tastes like a slice of heaven, and many of the recipes she uses came from her mother, you can imagine how exciting it was to receive it; all of our favourite recipes bound up in a single spiral. Many of the recipes I use on a daily basis, (including this particular recipe for Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins), come from the pages of this book.
Around here, muffins are always in demand because they’re so versatile; they taste great, pack well and don’t take long to bake. For a family always on-the-go, a batch of muffins first thing in the morning never goes astray, as they thankfully satisfy the seemingly endless appetites of working men, boys who play sports and friends who drop by.
Scratch muffins are the kind I like to make as they are often chock full of good things like fruits and vegetables. The great thing about muffins is that you can take a recipe and change it up, swap out the flour or the fruit to suit your individual tastes and make it your own. In the same way, this recipe for Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins, may taste great as Orange Poppy Seed Muffins by switching the lemon juice and lemon zest for orange juice and orange zest. I personally like to experiment with the flavours but haven’t yet tried this combination yet. If you happen to give it a try, I’d love to hear about it.
This recipe comes from my husband’s mom, baker extraordinaire. It’s light and delightful and the poppy seeds provide a surprising layer of crunchy texture. Though they do have quite a bit of sugar to balance the tartness of the lemons, they do not have a lot of fat, just a mere 1/4 cup of melted butter, balanced with the goodness of two freshly squeezed lemons and 1 and 1/4 cups of dairy fresh milk, so I feel good about serving them up, even for breakfast.
These muffins would make a great addition to a Mother’s Day brunch. They’re also a quick way to start the day if you happen to be travelling; pack a few for a great snack if you’ll be on the road for a while. You may want to whip them up to brighten someone’s day or show mom just how much you love her.
Adapted from Our Family Recipes
Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper cups. Finely grate peel from lemons. Mix half of the peel with 2 tablespoons of the sugar and set aside to sprinkle over the muffins before baking. Squeeze juice from lemons. Measure out 1/3 cup juice and stir in remaining peel.
2. Using a fork, stir flour with remaining sugar, and the rest of the dry ingredients. Whisk egg in a small bowl. Then whisk in the milk, lemon juice and butter. Milk may curdle when mixed with lemon juice. Immediately stir egg mixture into flour mixture just until combined. Spoon into muffin cups. Sprinkle tops with lemon-sugar mixture. Bake for 20-22 minutes.
Makes 1 dozen muffins.
For a light lemony crumb, I baked mine for 20 minutes.
You can omit the lemon zest/sugar topping if serving to young kids.