Having given up baking for Lent, I’m four weeks in and still have lots of recipes left to post. (I wish I still had lots of baked goods left in my freezer. Alas, they are long gone.) The biggest question now is this: which of them will I post in the few weeks left before I’m baking again?
There was no question about which recipe I was posting today. Spring has finally come to Toronto. The kids on the street had an extended game of road hockey yesterday. My oldest daughter went to the park to write, and my youngest went to the park to hang out with a friend. (They would like me to tell you that they went to different parks. I’m not sure why this is important, but apparently it is.) As my neighbours and I start to venture out of our houses after a long winter, we see each other for more than that fleeting moment between house and car. We can chat without the background sound of shovel on driveway. And when we do chat, our words aren’t muffled by our scarves, nor are they muted by the hats over our ears. The warm weather always brings a greater sense of community, and I love it.
I’ll happily eat lemon desserts any time of year, but they’re especially perfect in spring. These lemon poppy seed muffins are easy to make and, although they’re delicious unadorned, the lemon icing really takes them up a notch. And if you share them with your neighbours, they’ll definitely add to your sense of community, too.
Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
(from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours)
2/3 cup sugar
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
¾ cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 stick (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
For the icing:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 – 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin pan with paper liners. Place muffin pan on a baking sheet.
In a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of lemon strong. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and melted butter together until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and gently but quickly stir to blend. Do not overmix. Stir in the poppy seeds. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean. Cool muffins for 5 minutes before removing from the tin. Cool muffins completely before icing them.
To make the icing:
Put the confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl and add about 1 ½ Tbsp of lemon juice. Stir to moisten, then add enough additional lemon juice to get an icing that is thin enough to drizzle from the tip of a spoon.