Zesty Lemon Muffins

What I want most from a lemon muffin, or cake, is plenty of bitey zesty lemon-ness, and these muffins are just perfect. They have a delightful zing from all the lemon zest, and then the addition of lemon syrup poured over the warm muffins gives them the perfect extra lemony twist. The recipe is mostly this one from the Kitchn.

2 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 lemons
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil, such as rice bran
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 cup caster sugar (for the syrup)

Zest the three lemons, then juice enough of them to get 1/2 cup of juice. Set the lemon juice aside.

Pre-heat your oven to 190C (or 170C fan-forced). Grease your muffin tin (as syrup get drizzled over the muffins at the end, it is better to bake them directly into a greased tin than use liners, as the liners will get soaked with syrup).

In a decent sized bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, oil and vanilla essence. Make a well in the flour bowl, pour in the wet mixture, and gently fold together until just combined.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin tin, and bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

While the muffins are baking, put the lemon juice and additional 1/2 cup of sugar into a small saucepan and boil briskly for 5 minutes, then take off the heat.

When the muffins come out of the oven, leave them in the tin and poke them all over with a skewer or fork. With a spoon, slowly drizzle the lemon syrup over the muffins – you’ll need to go quite slowly in order for the syrup to absorb, however if it pools a little in the muffin tin, it will soak into the sides perfectly well. Let the muffins cool in the tin, then remove and enjoy their delightful zestyness.

Pumpkin spelt muffins

Another mostly cleanse approved recipe – the spelt flour works beautifully in these muffins. The amount of oil depends on how long you want to keep them – if they’re going to be eaten straight away, leave it at a quarter of a cup, if you want them to last for a few days, increase it to half a cup.

2 cups spelt flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup milk or cream
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 to 1/2 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup cooked mashed pumpkin

Pre-heat the oven to 200 C. Grease or line a muffin tin.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and spices into a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, additional sugar, oil, vanilla and mashed pumpkin. Add the pumpkin mix to the flour mixture and stir together until just combined. Spoon the mixture into greased or lined muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Cherry & Almond Muffins

These are gorgeous muffins – sweet and light. I almost wish the cherries were a bit sour, so you’re surprised by them. They’re lovely nevertheless, and be generous with the topping – the crunch of the almonds and sugar contrasts beautifully with the soft cherries in the middle.

2 cups + 2 tblsps plain flour
1 cup white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 butter, melted
1 tsp almond or vanilla essence
2 cups of fresh or frozen and defrosted pitted cherries

2 tblsps sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tblsp slivers almond

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Whisk up the eggs and milk in a bowl, add in the melted butter and essence. I’m not a big fan of almond flavoured cakes, so I changed the almond essence in the original receipe to vanilla.

Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture, and add the cherries. Stir together gently, until all combined. As with all muffins, the less you stir them, the lighter and softer they will be. However, with this amount of flour the mixture does require a little stirring before it will all come together.

Spoon the mixture into a lined muffin tin, and sprinkle a little bit of the topping on each muffin. Bake at 190C for about 25 minutes.

Date, Chocolate & Rum Muffins

This is a lovely dark and rich muffin, reasonably heavy with all the dates. It’s one for afternoon coffee rather than morning tea, I think.

75 grams butter
1/2 cup of honey
a good slosh of rum (up to 1/4 of a cup)
1 1/2 cups chopped dates
half a block of dark chocolate, chopped
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder

Heat the butter and honey in a small saucepan, and stir in the chopped dates and rum. Cook gently for a little until the dates have swelled up, and the liquid has reduced a little. Whisk the eggs and milk in a small bowl.

Put the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and stir it together. Make a well in the centre, and stir in the date and egg mixtures, along with the chopped chocolate. As with all muffins, stir gently until just combined.

Spoon into a lined muffin tin, and bake at 200C for 15-20 minutes. Eat warm, and enjoy the combination of the rum and gooey chocolate.

Raspberry & Rosewater Muffins

I was inspired to make these after reading Kerry Greenwood’s latest, Forbidden Fruit, in which a baker describes rosewater as bringing out the flavour of the raspberries.

I adapted this recipe from a strawberry muffin recipe, and as a result it was fairly tart – a dense, cakey muffin with bite. The rosewater does go wonderfully with the raspberries, giving a slight floral flavour that complements the tangy berries.

1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup greek/plain yoghurt
1 cup frozen rasperries, partly thawed (so they don’t all fall apart when you stir them in)
grated rind & juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tsps rosewater essence
2 cups self raising flour

Preheat the oven to 180C, and put muffin papers in your muffin tin. You can either make 12 huge muffins with this receipe, almost overfilling the tins, or about 16 reasonably sized muffins.

Blend together the butter and the sugar, then beat in the eggs, yoghurt and rosewater. Gently fold in the raspberries, lemon rind and juice to avoid crushing the fruit, and spoon the mixture into the muffin tins. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

These would probably also be nice sprinkled with a mixture of sugar and lemon rind before baking.

Honey & Raspberry Muffins

These pleasantly light muffins were made for a brunch, and were an excellent morning muffin – not too sweet, not too rich. I used Manuka honey in these, which is very strong, but you need a nice strong tasting honey for the taste to come out in the finished product. An incredibly simple recipe, this is very easy to whip up the night before.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup strong honey
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup yoghurt
2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup frozen raspberries

Preheat oven to 200C, and grease or otherwise prepare one muffin tray.

Beat the butter and honey together, then beat in the eggs, vanilla and yoghurt.

Gently fold in the flour, spices and raspberries. Spoon into the muffin tray, and bake for 20 minutes.

Carrot and Raisin Muffins

These delicious, lightly sweet muffins are perfect for breakfast or morning tea, have a million variations to be experimented with, and are delicious on their own, or spread with butter, depending on your taste for decadence. Another recipe from the excellent Diana Linfoot’s Muffin Magic.

3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar or honey
1/2 vegetable oil
1 cup plain yoghurt or sour cream
1 cup grated carrot
1/2 raisins
3 cups self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 200C, and grease or line the muffin pan.

Beat together the eggs, sugar, oil and yoghurt. Add the carrot and raisins. Gently, as delicately as possible, fold in the flour, baking soda and cinnamon.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin tin. I shook some cinnamon sugar over the top of each muffin before putting them in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Variations – walnuts, sultanas or currants instead of raisins, or try grated zucchini instead of carrot.

Coffee, Date and Chocolate Muffins (SHF #11)

My first attempt at Sugar High Friday. This month’s theme was coffee, and as I don’t use a lot of coffee in baking, I had to do a bit of searching to find this recipe. It’s a Diana Linfoot recipe, as usual with muffins, and is from More Muffin Magic. She writes, “These muffins have a strong, robust flavour,” and so they do – a mixture of chocolate, orange, dates and coffee, which sounds like too much, but is instead just right. Coffee is not the dominant flavour, but as I’m not an enormous fan of coffee, that suits me perfectly. It’s a deliciously smoky backdrop to the more prominant orange and chocolate flavours. Despite the long list of ingredients, this muffins are an easy two bowl mixture. A perfect muffin for afternoon tea.

2 cups dates, finely chopped
1 cup orange juice
rind of 1 orange
1 tablespoon instant coffee
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 chopped chocolate
2 mashed bananas
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
1 1/2 cups plain self-raising flour

Makes 12 large muffins

Preheat the oven to 190C, and grease the muffin pan.

Place the chopped dates in the orange juice, and either soak for a while, or microwave for a few minutes to warm and soften them.

Combine the coffee and the water, and add to the dates.

In another bowl, blend together the mashed bananas, eggs, sugar, oil, chocolate and vanilla. Pour in the date mixture, and combine well.

Gently fold in the flour, until the mixture is just combined, and spoon into a muffin tray. Bake for 25 minutes.

Variations I’d like to try – increasing the coffee, substituting sultanas for the chocolate, and brown sugar instead of white.

Pear and Honey Muffins

These are very sweet and sticky muffins, and are quite dense and moist as well. The fresh and almost tart taste of the pear goes beautifully with the warmth of the honey and ginger. They’re adapated from a Diana Linfoot recipe in More Muffin Magic. There’s more than enough mixture for 12 normal muffins – I made 12, and then dropped the leftover mixture into a mini-muffin tray to make the little pile in the picture above. Next time I take a photo, I’m going to wipe the countertop beforehand.

1/2 cup soft butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs
1 cup milk
4 pears, peeled and diced
3 cups plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
4 teaspoons mixed spice
4 teaspoons ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease the muffin pan if necessary.

Beat together the butter and sugar until creamy, then thoroughly mix in the honey. Beat in the eggs, add the milk, and mix well. Stir in the pears.

Pour the flour, baking powder and spices on top of the bowl of pear mixture. Gently stir them in, delicately, until the mixture is just combined. Muffins do not like to be beaten.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin trays. Mini muffins took 15 minutes in my oven, and the larger muffins took 30 minutes. In a fan-forced or gas oven, take at least 5 minutes off these times.