Friday, December 3, 2010

Lemon Crunch Muffins

I absolutely adore these little bursts of sunshine with a cup of hot coffee on a cold, cloudy morning.  I make a full recipe, and then freeze them in zip-lock bags.  Believe it or not, I actually bought a little toaster oven (remember, I'm not a big fan of specialty appliances) so I can easily heat a muffin or two, whenever I feel like it.  I especially like this recipe because my muffins still crunch after spending time in the freezer.

This recipe is a customized version of a basic muffin recipe I found in my America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.  The Test Kitchen calls them Big Beautiful Muffins, and they are.  I added the lemon, poppy seeds, and the lemon crunch topping.  

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons poppy seeds (optional)
1 1/2 cups plain lowfat yogurt (the key to the wonderful texture)
2 large eggs
1 stick butter, melted
zest from one lemon
granulated sugar (for topping)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and place paper liners in a 12 cup muffin tin.
Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and poppy seeds together in a large bowl.
Whisk the yogurt, eggs and 1 tablespoon lemon zest together.  I don't like the texture of large bits of peel in my delicate little muffins, so I use my microplane spice grater to get a finely grated zest.
Gently fold the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula, just until combined.  Do the same with the melted butter.  Remember, if you over-mix, you'll end up with flat, dense muffins.

Fill your muffin tin with batter.  Each cup will be fairly full.  Next, combine equal amounts of grated lemon zest and granulated sugar, in a very small bowl (about two teaspoons of each).  Use your fingers, to mix and then sprinkle the lemon-sugar mixture on the tops of the muffins.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  The muffins should be crusty and golden, when baked (see photo).   Serve them warm, with apple, pear or pumpkin butter.

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