Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Ok, so I have this thing for lemons. I love them. I put lemon juice or zest in anything possible. But it wasn't always like that for me and lemons. For the longest time I didn't even like them. But I realize more and more that there are things that I *think* I don't like, only to find out that if I try them again, I do like them. Anyway, I digress. Back to lemons.

Lemon poppy seed muffins is one of the ways I realized my love for lemons. They're sweet and tart and I love the extra crunch from the poppy seeds. So when I started seeing other food bloggers making them, I realized that I needed to find a recipe and make them for myself (and for my mom. I totally plan on giving her some when she comes over tomorrow.)

When I found this recipe from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours on Julia's blog, I knew I'd found a winner. These muffins are fantastic. Very dense, but moist and sweet and tangy. I love them and will be making them again sometime. Do yourself a favor and don't skip the glaze. It totally makes the muffins and brings them to a whole other level. Also, this was my first time ever glazing anything and I'm very happy with the results :-)

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins (source: Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From my Home to Yours by way of Two Novice Chefs, One Tiny Kitchen)


For the Muffins:
2/3 cup sugar
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 cups all purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
3/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 t pure vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 T poppy seeds

For the Icing:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2-3 T fresh lemon juice


To Make the Muffins:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Alternatively, use a silicone muffin pan, which needs neither greasing nor paper cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, rub the sugar and the lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of the 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, with the wish or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough-a few lumps are better than over mixing the batter. 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 center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold. Cool the muffins completely on the rack before icing them.

To Make the Icing:
Put the confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl and add about 1 1/2 T of the lemon juice. Stir with a spoon to moisten the sugar, then add enough additional lemon juice, a dribble at a time, to get an icing that is thin enough to drizzle from the tip of the spoon. You can then drizzle lines of icing over the tops of the muffins or coat the tops entirely, the better to get an extra zap of lemon.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Super Simple Corn Muffins

I went in search of a corn muffin recipe today, and found several on recipezaar.com I found one, in particular, that got some pretty great reviews so I decided to give it a try. They are so easy to throw together, and are pretty good. They are moist and tasty. I definitely recommend them if you're looking for something quick and easy.

Dot's Corn Muffins (source: recipezaar.com)

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup sour cream


~Line 8 muffin cups with paper liners. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
~In a bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
~In another bowl, beat egg and sour cream; stir into dry ingredients until moistened.
~Fill prepared muffin cups 2/3 full.
~Bake in preheated oven for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
~Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


I realize that I made cookies for my husband for his birthday. And he didn't ask for cake. But the dog ate all the cookies, and I've been craving cake. So hubby got some cupcakes too! I have had my eye on a couple of yellow cake recipes. I never think of making yellow cake because I'm such a chocolate cake lover. But Rob loves yellow cake with chocolate frosting, so I decided to try a from-scratch recipe for the first time. I looked through blogs and cookbooks and finally settled on the Cook's Illustrated's recipe for Fluffy Yellow Layer Cake. But decided that I'd make cupcakes instead of one big cake. Cupcakes are just so much fun and I don't make them nearly enough. It's also a really great way to control portion size :-)

This cake is absolutely amazing. It wasn't too hard to pull together and it turned out fantastically. The recipe calls for cake flour, which I didn't have. And I didn't want to have to go buy any. So I searched around the web and found a substitution for cake flour using all purpose flour and cornstarch. It worked perfectly. Here's a link to the substitution on Recipezaar. The substitution worked out perfectly for me. The cake really was light and fluffy.

I used the Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting. This is really some of the best frosting I have ever made and it complimented the light, fluffy yellow cake perfectly.

Fluffy Yellow Layer Cake (source: Cook's Illustrated)

2 1/2 cups cake flour (see link above for cake flour substitute)
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp table salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
10 tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks, room temperature
3 large egg whites, room temperature

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 9x2 round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper. Grease paper rounds, dust pans with flour, and knock out excess. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soad, salt and 1 1/2 cups sugar together in a large bowl. In a 4 cup liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and yolks.

2. In clean bowl of stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. With machine running, gradually add remaining 1/4 sugar; continue to beat until stiff peaks just form, 30 to 60 seconds (whites should hold peak but mixture should appear moist). Transfer to bowl and set aside.

3. Add flour mixture to now-empty mixing bowl fittes with whisk attachment. With mixer running at low speed, gradually pour in butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated (a few streaks of dry flour will remain), about 15 seconds. Stop mixer and scrape whisk and sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium-low speed and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, 10 to 15 seconds.

4. Using rubber spatula, stir 1/3 of whites into batter to lighten, then add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Lightly tap pans against counter 2 or 3 times to dislodge any large air bubbles.

5. Bake until cake layers begin to pull away from sides of pans and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen cakes from sides of pans with a small knife, then invert onto greased wire rack and peel off parchment. Invert cakes again and cool completely on rack, about 1 1/2 hours.

This recipe can easily be turned into 24 cupcakes. Line 2 12 cup muffin pans with paper liners. Decrease bake time to 18-20 minutes.

Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting (source: Hersheys.com)

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. Makes about 2 cups of frosting.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Black and White Cookies

So for those of you who don't know, my husband grew up in New York. Specifically the Bronx. So when I asked him what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday this year, he said he wanted me to try to make authentic New York Black and White Cookies. Not exactly what I had in mind, but hey, it's his birthday after all.

So I started to think of where I might find a recipe. I picked up my Martha Stewart Baking Handbook and low and behold, there was a recipe! Not to mention wonderful tips and pictures (thank you Martha!) That's what I love about this book. Awesome step by step instructions and pictures for every single recipe. That being said, this is actually the first recipe I've made from this cookbook (that I received from a friend in December) I'm not very good at remembering to look through my cookbooks! I normally use online websites or recommendations from friends. Anyway, I've been meaning to bake something from this book since the day I got it and this was a perfect inaugural recipe :-)

Anyway, as I suspected, Martha did not disappoint me, or my New Yorker husband. These cookies were incredible. I'm considering making just the cookies again, without the frosting. They were just so sweet and cakey and delicious! One teensy adjustment that I would make next time is to not use lemon juice in the frosting. It was a bit overpowering. I think next time I'll just use milk. Martha says these cookies are better the next day and she is right. They were good the day I made them, but after sitting on the table wrapped in plastic overnight, they were even better. Well, the ones that were left anyway. See, my lovely dog ate all but 3 while we were sleeping. Argh! All that hard work. Oh well, I definitely learned my lesson about leaving the dog and the cookies out overnight :-)

Black and White cookies (source: Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook)

3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup plus 3 tbsps sugar
2 large whole eggs, plus 1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy cream
Black and White Icings ( recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of and electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, shortening, and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add whole eggs and egg yolk, one at a time; beat until combined after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add the flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the cream. Beat until just combined (do not overmix).

Use a 1/4 cup measure to scoop dough 3 inches apart onto prepared sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until the edges begin to turn golden and the centers are cakey and tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer parchment and cookies to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove cookies from parchment and let cool completely.

On the flat side (bottom) of each cookie, use a small offset spatula to spread chocolate icing over one half of the cookie, creating a straight line down the center. Spread white frosting on the other half. Set cookies aside until icing is set, about 30 minutes. Makes about 18 cookies.

Black and White Icings

4 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp light corn syrup
1 tbsp plus 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp Dutch-process cocoa powder

Whisk sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and 1 tbsp water in a bowl until smooth. Add more water, if needed, until mixture is slightly thicker than honey. Set aside half of the sugar mixture (for white icing). Stir cocoa into remaining sugar mixture to combine (for black icing); thin with water if needed. Use immediately.
Maura approves :-)