From time to time a nice change up or escape is always nice, and due to current events, travel is not the best choice in my opinion. My lovely wife got the baking bug this weekend, and she found a Spanish Lemon Muffin recipe. As the closest we were going to get to an adventure in Spain, I thought this sounded fun. To top it off, my Meyer lemon tree Luigi had three beautiful lemons ripening up!
While we talked over the recipe and made sure we had everything we needed, I felt it was a bit basic. If this was our attempt at escaping the hum drum, I felt that we needed a few tweaks and some jazz on this recipe. We settled on trading out the AP flour with cake flour, upping the lemon zest by 50% and throwing in some fresh thyme. One nice aspect of Meyer lemons is that they have a unique menthol background flavor that lends well to herbs, and it is a little sweeter which balances savory connection many people have with fresh herbs as well.
We began by mise en placing our recipe with everything we needed and pre-heating our oven to 375°F.
Next, we zested our lemons, making sure not to go over any spot more than once! This is because lemons zest is bright and intense, but only in the outermost skin which requires a Microplane grate to remove. If at any point you go past that outer most layer, you will be going into the pith which is bitter and has not true citrus flavor to add. Along with zesting our lemons we also picked our thyme leaves.
Once the zest and thyme were ready, we wanted to be sure to take these flavor additions to their maximum capacity by adding our sugar and salt. By introducing them at this step, we were able to use the sugar and salt crystals as a pomace to grind up the zest and thyme and pull all the flavor and juices out. After the maceration is complete, we jump back to the more traditional technique by adding the butter and creaming it together with then now flavor infused sugar and salt.
The bright, sweet, flavorful, butter mixture is ready at that point and next comes the eggs and milk.
Now that we had incorporated all the wet ingredients the last step was to mix the remaining dry ingredients and gently fold them into the wet to avoid overmixing! When you mix the dry ingredients in too aggressively, you tend to activate the gluten in the flours to much and create a dense final product.
The recipe made about 6 muffins and as most muffin pans are 12, I like to disperse my muffins with spaces between the muffins so that the heat is more evenly distributed. When you fill you papers make sure to only fill them 1/2 – 3/4 full so that they have room to expand and not over flow to much. I also like to fill the empty cups, halfway, with water to help that even further!
When everything was good and ready, we gently set the muffin pan in the oven and baked for 20 minutes.
There you have it folks! This is a fun and easy recipe that has become one of my favorite breakfast bites. I understand it is not necessarily the equivalent to going to Spain and enjoying a wild trip, but it was definitely a great way to enjoy a new and exciting flavor profile. Not only was it fun cooking them, but it was also a nice change up from the new normal and we definitely re-kindled our love for diverse cuisines.
Lemon Thyme Muffins
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 6 muffins
4 Tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons milk
3/4 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
- Pre-heat oven to 375*F.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine lemon zest, fresh picked thyme, salt and sugar. Stir well and using the back of your spoon pomace the ingredients together to release the oils.
- Add the butter and using an electric mixer or a spoon mix thoroughly until mixture is fully incorporated by the butter and takes on a fluffy texture.
- Whisk in the eggs and milk, then fold the dry ingredients in gradually until fully blended but still a slightly cottage cheese type of consistency.
- Place muffin liners in muffin pan and fill each about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way up. Fill the empty muffin tins with water.
- Bake in oven for 20 minutes or golden brown. Allow muffins to rest for 5-10 minutes before eating to allow them to finish steaming on the inside.
These muffins would be great for a light breakfast on Thanksgiving to save room for the big feast. Join us for The Chopping Block's virtual Holiday Brunch on the morning after (Friday, November 27 at 11am CST) as you learn to make another type of quick bread and a beautiful brunch:
- Lemon-Blueberry Muffins
- Eggs Benedict with Homemade Turkey Breakfast Sausage and Hollandaise Sauce
- Herb Roasted Breakfast Potatoes