Lemon-Poppy Seed Muffins
Lemon sugar can be used to add lemon flavor to any recipe calling for sugar and lemon zest. To make lemon sugar, using a small paring knife or a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from 3 large lemons, leaving the bitter white pith behind; reserve the fruit and juice for another use. Place the zest in a food processor and add 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Pulse until the zest is evenly distributed. Add another 1/2 cup sugar and pulse until the zest is finely ground. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. Makes about 1 cup.
- 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup lemon sugar (see headnote) or granulated sugar
- 2 eggs, separated
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 2 Tbs. poppy seeds
- Grated zest of 2 lemons
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 Tbs. strained fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 Tbs. coarse raw sugar
- Lemon curd for serving (see related recipe at left)
Preheat an oven to 350°F. Grease 10 standard muffin cups with butter or butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray or line with paper liners; fill the unused cups one-third full with water to prevent warping.
In a bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the butter and lemon or granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition until blended.
In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, poppy seeds, lemon zest and salt. Using the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 2 additions, alternating with the buttermilk, then the lemon juice and vanilla. Beat just until smooth.
In a large bowl, using the mixer with spotlessly clean beaters on high speed or a balloon whisk, beat the egg whites until they just form soft peaks. Using a large silicone spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the batter until blended.
Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them three-fourths full. Sprinkle the muffins with the raw sugar.
Bake the muffins until golden, dry and springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the muffins cool for 5 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and let cool completely. Serve at room temperature with lemon curd. Makes 10 muffins.
Adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book, Edited by Chuck Williams (Oxmoor House, 2009).