Monday, February 20, 2012

Lemon Rosemary Muffins

I have a theory about muffin eaters. I believe that the world is divided into two types of people: Muffin Split Top/Bottom Eaters and Just Give Me My Muffin Damnit Eaters. The latter of which of course, are people who don’t care much for muffin-eating artistry and mindlessly hack their way through whatever muffin they have in their hand (the horror!) while sipping plain coffee in the other. They don’t give much thought into its texture, flavours, nor the harmony of ingredients, instead, they leave a trail of precious muffin crumbs behind them while rushing to wherever they have to be.

The former category, the Muffin Split Top/Bottom Eaters are people who are much more refined, they study the craft of not just muffin-eating, but muffin-making, muffin-mixing and let’s not forget, muffin-paper-liner-situations. You know what I’m talking about, those paper liners that cling desperately to muffin bottoms, a clear sign it’s over, you’re doomed, the muffin will taste rubbery and heavy with fat, leaving a thick film of grease on your tongue. Oh woe is me! Sometimes I lie awake at night tossing and turning, mulling over this catastrophic problem. Am I the only one who feels so strongly about muffin-paper-liner-situations?

But back to the Muffin Split Top/Bottom Eaters. as you may have deduced by my fine category name, these people split the muffin into two, one side being the muffin bottom, the other is the muffin top, and if you are well versed in muffin craft, it is the best part of muffins. The crackly top is almost crumble-like, rough and crispy along the golden edges, because really, it’s the only reason why muffins are made. I’d share with you a recipe for Lemon and Rosemary Muffin Tops, but I’ll save that for a later time, like when the world is coming to an end and we’ve hit a muffin top crisis. 

Which brings me to these muffins. Ever since this beauty, I’ve been toying with the idea of using rosemary in a baked good again, I devoted hours of serious research on Google, but failed to find something that held my attention for more than two seconds. Then I looked to my trusty friend Epicurious and stumbled on a recipe for lemon muffins. It originally tops the muffins with raspberries, which I left out and replaced it with lemon sugar, which is essentially a simple mash of lemon zest and sugar and my new favorite thing.

The last few desserts featured here haven’t been aromatically strong, so I’ve missed the smell of butter and sugar doing its magic, but within minutes in the oven, my home smelled like a candy factory. The lemonyness is undeniably good in the muffins, the crumb is delicate and soft (which I suspect comes from the oat flour), and the muffin top is glorious, sprinkled with the lemon sugar, it’s a beautiful glistening crown.

The rosemary isn’t obvious here, it’s so subtle you have to squint your eyes and tell your taste buds to search really hard for it. I was hoping for the same gentle herbyness that knocked my socks off like this rosemary olive oil cake (swoon!) though I think the generous amount of olive oil helped bring out the rosemary, because this time, the sugar seemed to overpower the herb. Either way, these lemon muffins are superb and deserve a permanent spot in your recipe arsenal, and don’t worry, we can all sleep well tonight, muffin-paper-liner-situations have no place here.

*Psst! I've been mentioned by Acquired Taste Magazine! It was the highlight of my week and there's more good news coming soon--stay tuned!

Lemon and Rosemary Muffins Adapted from Epicurious

I dialed down the sugar and still found the muffins a tad too sweet. They’re still delicious, I just wish the rosemary was stronger here. Nonetheless, they’re still good and make a delicious accompaniment with tea. If you don’t have oat flour, use all-purpose flour instead.


1 cup sugar, divided
4 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (from about 1 lemon)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup oat flour
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 14 standard muffin cups with paper liners.

2. Mash ¼ cup of the sugar with the lemon zest in small bowl until sugar is slightly moist. Set aside.

3. Whisk flours, baking powder, salt, and rosemary in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat remaining ¾ cup of sugar and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in egg. Beat in buttermilk, then vanilla and half of the lemon sugar. Beat in flour mixture until well combined. Divide batter among muffin cups. Top each muffin with remaining lemon sugar. Bake muffins until lightly browned on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool.

Recipe here!

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