I've never been much of a baker.... all the measuring and precision... I am too much of a zen cooker to be any good at following exact directions. More often than not, I never cook the same dish, exactly the same way twice. I do not own a single baking book.... but I own dozens of cookbooks... and this collection is constantly growing.
So when Sara
over at I Like to Cook
invited me to take part in her newest Cookbook Spotlight
.. I was definitely up for the challenge.
Once I received my copy of Baking, from my home to yours, by Dorie Greenspan
I was like a little kid with a brand new toy. What to make!? What to make!!?? My pantry was in a sad state as far as baking ingredients. My flour in its jar was of questionable age... and I soon realized just about every recipe called for either vanilla or almond extract, brown sugar, buttermilk, or powdered sugar.. none of which I had in stock. I knew I would soon need to make a trip to the store to get some baking staples...
But in the mean time, I did have what was required to make her "basic biscuits";
Flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, butter and milk. What good cook doesnt have those things in stock!? I've never actually been successful at making biscuits, and its shameful as a southerner!! Perhaps the recipes I was using were too complicated, or didnt tell me NOT to overmix the dough (most likely). But Dorie lovingly explains how the dough should look... and how the chunks of butter will melt leaving those nice fluffy pockets inside. My biscuits turned out beautifully. Suddenly... for the first time.. I felt a spark of confidence as a baker!
I fervently searched out my next baked victim.
My mom always used to make lemon poppyseed cake, and I loved it so. Now, not being a baker meant I didnt have cake pans, or square pans, or loaf pans (I've since remedied this).. but I DID have a muffin pan!! An lo and behold! There I found a recipe for lemon poppyseed muffins!
I donned my baking cap (okay... pretend I donned a baking cap).. and set out gathering my ingredients... even pulling out (gasp!) measuring utensils! I measured everything out exactly as she said... and was oh so careful not to overmix. The batter seemed thicker to me than any muffin batter I'd seen before... but I continued on, refusing to stray from the recipe. I placed the muffins in the oven, full of anxiety that they would burn, or be raw inside, or turn into rocks... but I left them be, and resisted the urge to open the oven and poke at them. Once their recommended time was up... I took them out... and let them cool, again.. resisting the urge to poke at them.
They looked EXACTLY as they did in the picture. This was a big moment for me because as far as baking goes, this has NEVER happened to me. Okay.. good so far.. but how will they taste? Am I gonna break a tooth!?!?
Once cooled I iced them up, and finally... got to taste.
OMG. Soft, fluffy, slightly sweet and lemony with that little poppyseed crunch.
The baker in me has awoken.
Thank you Dorie..... and thank you Sara for inviting me. =)
Now I flip the pages... wondering what I will make next... Blueberry Crumb Cake maybe?
Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
2/3 cup sugar
Grated zest & juice of 1 lemon
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
3/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter
2 T poppy seeds
For the Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 T lemon juice
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Alternatively, use a silicone muffin pan, which needs niether greasing not paper cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.
In a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of lemon strong. Whisk in the flour baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large glass measuring cup, or another bowl, whisk the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and melted butter together until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with a whisk or rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don't worry about being thorough - a few lumps are better than overmixing the batter. Stir in the poppy seeds. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold. Cool the muffins completely on the rack before icing them
To make the icing: Put the powdered sugar in a small bowl and add about 1.5 T of the lemon juice. Stir with a spoon to moisten the sugar, then add enough additional juice , a dribble at a time, to get an icing that is thin enough to drizzle from the tip of the spoon. You can then drizzle lines of icing over the tops of the muffins or coat the tops entirely, the better to get an extra zap of lemon.