Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

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Now that spring is upon us, I’ve been noticing a lot of lighter desserts lining the shelves at our local bakery and coffee shops. When the sun is shining and the birds are chirping, a big, heavy coffee cake muffin just doesn’t have the same appeal as it did during the cold, harsh days of winter. I mean, that doesn’t mean I would turn one down if it was offered, but I find myself gravitating towards the lighter fare, like lemon-flavored pastries and desserts.

Since science has proven that a person can only stare longingly at a treat while their coffee is being made so many times without losing their marbles, I decided to take matters into my own hands and whip up some lemon poppy seed muffins to keep my sanity. I remembered seeing a recipe for lighter blueberry muffins in – wait for it – the America’s Test Kitchen cookbook, so I used that as a base for mine.

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Now this certainly isn’t the first time that I’ve mention America’s Test Kitchen, so part of me thinks that I should pause here to confirm that America’s Test Kitchen isn’t actually a sponsor of the Wily Hound and isn’t compensating me for giving them shout outs. Then the more rational, sane part of me chimes in and points out that my readership probably isn’t quite up to ATK’s standards for partnerships, so it’s not a concern.

That being said, these muffins came out great, and the fact that the recipe calls for 1/3 of the normal amount of butter is just the delicious lemon icing on top of the cake muffin. Justin doesn’t even like lemon-flavored treats and he loves these guys and was really surprised to hear that they are lighter than your typical muffin.

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I couldn’t quite sell him on the lemon glaze (it’s really pretty lemony), but luckily I had anticipated that and topped a few of the muffins with a coarse turbinado sugar instead – both versions are delicious, so go with whichever sounds more appealing to you.

(Light) Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
makes: 12 muffins / prep time: 15 minutes / bake time: 25-30 minutes
Recipe adapted from the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

For the muffins:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour (see note below)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • the juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups plain low fat or fat free yogurt
  • turbinado sugar for topping (optional)

Note: if you don’t have cake flour on hand, improvise by replacing 1 cup cake flour with 7/8 cup all-purpose flour and 2 tablespoons cornstarch.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Generously coat a 12-cup muffin tin with vegetable oil spray. Mix the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, poppy seeds, and 1/4 cup of the sugar together and set aside. Beat the remaining 3/4 cup sugar and butter together in a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat in the lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla until incorporated, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed. Reduce the speed to low. Slowly mix in one-third of the flour mixture until just combined, followed by one-third of the yogurt. Repeat the process twice, alternating between the remaining flour mixture and yogurt. Do not overmix. Use a large ice-cream scoop or measuring cup to divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops with sugar if desired. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out with just a few crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before glazing.

For the glaze:

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
  • 1 3/4 cups confectioner’s sugar

Mix the lemon juice and sugar together until no lumps remain and let it sit for 25 minutes to thicken. When the muffins are done cooling, place the wire rack over a cookie sheet and pour the glaze over top of the muffins, allowing the glaze to drip down over the sides of the muffins.

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