Sometimes all you need on a Saturday morning is a muffin; somewhat sweet, and very simple. Even though my natural inclination is to lean toward having a cupcake over a muffin (even for a weekend breakfast), I know that muffins might be more of an appropriate morning-time snack.
It’s been a while since we’ve made muffins here at Saturday Snacks. In fact, the last time we made muffins was last November when we made Animal Kingdom's Gingerbread-Cream Cheese Muffins. And, in September 2020, we made French Breakfast Muffins from my Ratatouille-inspired children’s cookbook. Those muffins were the absolute bomb; sweet and cinnamon-y…just perfect for a weekend morning.
On random Saturday mornings when I was a kid, my mom would pull a small box of Martha Washington-brand spice or gingerbread cake mix out of the cabinet and prepare a simple 9-inch round cake for the four of us to enjoy. The warm smell of that cake wafted through the house and created instant excitement for the two little girls who lived there. My mom's simple act brought such joy to my sister and me, and it made an ordinary weekend just that much more special. Sometimes a snack doesn’t have to be very fancy to communicate love, does it?
Today, we turn our snacking attention to a recipe created by Chef Penny Stone of the bakery team at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club resorts. Years ago, Chef Penny wrote a recipe for lemon poppyseed muffins (aptly named Penny’s Poppyseed Muffins) that we’ll attempt to whip up today. A simple recipe made with love, right? Carbs are magical like that. And Disney carbs are the most magical in my book.
Most of today’s ingredients can be found in our pantry or fridge, with a lemon and a container of poppyseeds being the most extravagant. I’ve personally never baked with poppyseeds before, so I had to look up where exactly in the store I would find the little things. Thankfully, they were right in the spice aisle. I found it funny that the container had a picture of poppies on the front of it, just in case you and I forgot where poppyseeds actually come from, which, in all my days, I really hadn't stopped to consider. #informationforlife
To begin preparing for today’s recipe, preheat your oven to 400° and melt 3 tablespoons of butter or margarine in the microwave and allow them to cool. And, when those 3 tablespoons of butter are melting in the microwave, keep a close eye on them lest they explode all over the inside of your microwave like mine did. Having to stop and clean your microwave does not make throwing a recipe together more fun, does it? Sigh.
From the word go, today’s recipe left me with a big decision to make. The recipe calls for a 3-inch muffin pan, so I grabbed my handy-dandy ruler and pulled my muffin pan out of the cabinet to find that the cups, if measured across the top, were just under 3 inches. So, on my trip to the store, I picked up a jumbo muffin pan, and of course, when I got it home and measured it, I discovered that the muffin cups were just over 3 inches across. WORK WITH ME HERE, MUFFIN PANS. I made the decision to go with the jumbo muffin pan and lightly greased the six muffin cups. And stay tuned; I had to back up and punt on this decision before the batter even went into the oven. But more on that in a minute.
Grab two bowls (one large and one medium) out of the cabinet, and toss one cup plus 2 tablespoons of cake flour, a 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon of baking powder, and half of a teaspoon of salt into the large bowl.
The recipe asks for us to sift the dry ingredients together, but you know me: I wasn’t going to do all that sifting. I grabbed my whisk and made sure that everything was combined thoroughly.
Before you’re done combining the dry ingredients, make a little well in the center and set the bowl aside.
We'll now grab the medium bowl and turn our attention to the wet ingredients. Into that bowl you’ll want to pour a half cup of milk, the 3 tablespoons of melted margarine or butter, one egg, 2 teaspoons of poppyseeds, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
You’ll also want to toss 2 teaspoons of finely grated lemon zest into the medium bowl. You and I should get right at 2 teaspoons of lemon zest from an average-sized lemon. Grab your grater and go to town on that lemon, being sure to get all of the yellow lemon zest off of it that you can. Grate it until you get to the white pith, and then rotate the lemon and keep on rolling.
It's now time to combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients. I slowly poured the wet ingredients into the well that I created in the middle of the dry ingredients and stirred to combine the two with a fork.
The key here is that you and I make sure to not overmix the batter. We need to gently stir it until everything is just combined.
It’s now time to spread the thick batter into the prepared muffin cups. We’re supposed to fill the muffin cups (six of them in total) about 3/4 of the way full. As I started to scoop the batter into the jumbo muffin cups, it quickly became clear that I would not get six muffins out of the deal. And it also became very clear that I would not get the cups 3/4 of the way full.
I grabbed my regular-sized muffin pan out of the cabinet, greased it up, and decided to call an audible. I moved the batter from the jumbo muffin cups into the regular muffin cups and decided that they would just have to do.
By using smaller muffin cups, I was able to get seven muffins out of the batter. More muffins is always a good thing, right? I placed them into the 400° oven and set the timer for 5 minutes. When the 5 minutes was up, I reduce the heat to 350° and baked them for an additional 10 minutes just like the recipe instructed.
At the 10-minute mark, my muffins were not golden brown, so I decided to give them an additional couple of minutes. At 12 minutes, they still weren’t necessarily golden brown, but I decided enough was enough, and pulled them out of the oven. They smelled lightly lemony and looked lovely.
As you might suspect with a lemon poppyseed muffin, the end result straddles the line between sweet and savory. As the the cookbook says, they're the perfect complement to enjoy with a steaming cup of tea. If you’ve got really sweet tea in your cup, you’re not necessarily going to want something super sweet to munch along with it. This muffin is a great option.
That being said, as someone who leans toward all things sweet and all things lemony, I think the next time that I make the muffins I’ll likely whip up a sugary glaze and quite possibly drop a bit more sugar into the dry ingredients. I know that I have to resist the urge to make the poppyseed muffin into a cupcake, but a bit of additional sweetness wouldn’t hurt.
I quickly got to thinking and pulled the butter out of the fridge and smeared some on one of the muffins. It was good, but not quite there. I then pulled a jar of lemon curd out of the fridge, and that was definitely a step in the right direction. If you’re ever looking for something to give you an over-the-top, pucker-inducing lemon punch, lemon curd’s the answer.
Remember that lemon that we zested? We could use all of that fresh lemon juice and toss it together with some powdered sugar or granulated sugar to create a glaze or, as I saw in someone else's recipe online, a syrup for the top of the muffins. Something to really punch up the lemony flavor, you know? Or, as came to mind when I woke up this morning, I could use 1 teaspoon of lemon extract instead of the vanilla extract. (Cue the evil genius scientist cackle...moooohaha!) You can never have too much lemony flavor, right?
Of course, you could always simply place a dollop of fresh jam or preserves on top of these light, poppyseed-studded muffins. The sky's the limit!
Whatever you're baking up this weekend, I hope that you find joy in it. And maybe a laugh or two, even if the butter explodes all over your microwave. The fun's in the journey, right? And maybe we'll give ourselves bonus points if the end result produces a yummy snack for our Saturday afternoons. It's a win-win.
Have a great weekend, friends!
p.s. If you're new to Saturday Snacks, welcome! If you'd like to catch up on the Disney snacks we've made so far (the good, the bad, and the somewhat ugly), click here.
Ready to whip up Chef Penny's Poppyseed Muffins? The recipe is below:
Penny's Poppyseed Muffins Makes six muffins.
Recipe found in Cooking with Mickey and the Chefs of Walt Disney World Resort
- 1 cup +2 tablespoons cake flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted and cooled
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons finally grated lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons poppyseeds
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease 6 3-inch muffin cups.
- Into a large mixing bowl, sift together the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, melted butter, egg, lemon zest, poppyseeds, and vanilla.
- With a fork, gently stir the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined; do not overmix.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them about 3/4 full.
- Bake for 5 minutes, reduce the heat to 350°F, and bake for 10 minutes longer, or until golden brown.