Here’s the formula for the perfect, bakery-style tender muffin.
This is such an easy, adaptable batter for large muffins, minis or even cake. Blueberries are just one idea. Try chopped apples or pears, grated zucchini or carrots. Or combine ingredients like granola and dried fruit or chocolate chips and nuts.
For a make ahead idea, prepare muffin batter and freeze in greased or paper lined muffin tins, covered, before baking. Once frozen, transfer muffins to a ziplock bag to bake just a few at a time whenever you want a fresh muffin. Frozen muffins will last up to three months.
Use the photos as your guide and get creative with this basic recipe.
Zest the lemon first, then squeeze the juice and strain out the seeds. The lemon juice adds moisture while the zest flavors the sugar topping that bakes up tangy and crunchy in the oven. If you prefer vanilla, replace the lemon juice with one teaspoon of vanilla extract and add just plain sugar to the tops of muffins or a combination of scraped vanilla beans and sugar.
Adding a little bit of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to milk in baked goods is a great trick. Whenever a recipe calls for buttermilk, you can substitute your milk of choice ( dairy or vegan) and lemon or clear vinegar. The ratio is 1 cup milk +1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar.
The lemon (or vanilla) sugar topping takes less time to make than an icing or streusel topping, yet adds a simple but elegant extra dimension to the muffins.
To make a tender muffin or cake, DON’T OVER-MIX!
Blueberry Cake is especially good with a dab of lemon curd.
Cut into slices or cubes and serve with toothpicks.
Serves: 12 regular or 24 minis
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon (15 ml)
- ½ cup milk or milk alternative (120 ml) (soy, almond, etc..)
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (270 gm)
- (use less sugar depending on sweetness of berries)
- *8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter or vegan butter (113 gm.)
- *2 large eggs or flax eggs ***
- 2 ½ cups blueberries or mixed berries (410 gm) (mash ½ cup (80 gm) with a fork)
- 2 cups AP flour or gluten free flour blend (260 gm.)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder (10 gm) (gluten free if necessary)
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- *Bring butter and eggs to room temperature
- ***Make EACH flax egg by combining 1 tablespoon flax with 3 tablespoons water.
- Heat oven to 400 F. Grease 12 regular muffin cups or use muffin liners.
- Zest lemon, then squeeze and strain juice.
- Combine milk with half the zest and all the juice. Set aside to curdle.
- Combine remaining zest with 2 tablespoons sugar and set aside.
- Use an electric or hand held mixer to beat butter and sugar together about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.
- Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
- In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.
- Remove a tablespoon of flour mixture and toss it with the whole berries or fruit (this keeps berries from sinking to the bottom of the muffins).
- With mixer on low, add half the flour, then half the curdled milk. Scrape down sides and repeat just until blended. Then fold in mashed berries just until combined.
- Off the mixer, use a spatula to gently fold in whole berries with as few strokes as possible.
- Use a small ice-cream scoop or tablespoon to fill muffin cups ¾ ths full. Do not press down on batter. Sprinkle tops with lemon sugar.
- Place in middle of oven. After 5 minutes turn down temperature to 375 F.
- Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in middle of muffin comes out clean.
- For crunchier, golden muffin tops, place under broiler for an additional 3 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool.
- *Make mini muffins using 24 mini size muffin cups. Scoop cups all the way to the top and bake for half the time. Test for doneness with a toothpick.
- **Instead of muffins, make cakes using 2 loaf pans lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle sugar on top and bake at same temperature for 35+ minutes, checking for doneness with a toothpick.
in the cookbook Muffins by Elizabeth Alston