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fresh baked!: 
emon poppy seed muffins 
by Yee-Fan Sun

When it comes to muffins, my mother has spoiled me completely. Her home baked muffins are hands-down the best muffins in the world, thus ruining regular old bakery muffins for me forever. Nope, if I'm hankering for some muffiny goodness, it's homemade or nothing.

Fortunately, Mom's recipe (adapted from the excellent Baking with Julia cookbook) is pretty much foolproof, so even a non-baker like myself can replicate her results fairly well. In addition to being idiot-resistant, the recipe has also proven infinitely adaptable; this lemon-poppy seed version is my current favorite variation. Eaten fresh from the oven on the day that they're baked, they're the lightest, fluffiest, most amazingly heavenly muffins in the world, which is why I prefer to make them as close to serving time as possible. If, however, you'd rather not have to deal with the last-minute fuss, the muffins can be made the night before, and will still be quite tasty come morning. You can toast them up in a 325F oven for about 10 minutes just before serving. Muffins also freeze just dandy; wrap cooled muffins in foil, slide them into a ziplock, and find a spot for them in your freezer. Next time you're in a muffin mood, toss the foil-wrapped frozen muffins in a 325F oven for about 15-20 minutes, until warmed through.

1-3/4 cup flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder (or 2 tsp. baking soda + 1 tsp. cream of tartar)
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup yogurt
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled for 10 minutes
2 Tbsp. freshly grated lemon zest (about 1 large lemon)
4 tsps. poppy seeds
Extra sugar for sprinkling

yields 12-14, depending upon how full you fill the cups
time 20-30 minutes

1 Preheat the oven to 400F. Pop muffin liners in each hole of your muffin tin. If you have any empty tins in the pan, fill them with water -- this will help them cook more evenly.
2 Sift the flour and baking powder (or baking soda/cream of tartar substitute) through a wire-mesh sieve.
3 In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until you have a creamy pale yellow mixture. Add the milk, oil, melted butter, and yogurt and beat until smooth. Stir in the lemon zest and the poppy seeds. Gently fold in the flour mixture until just combined; don't over-mix. (The baking powder will start to create little bubbles as soon as it's moistened; the more you mix, the more bubbles you lose, which means your muffins won't end up as fluffy.)
4 Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling each at least 2/3 full for a small muffin, close to the top for a big one. Sprinkle the tops with a generous amount of sugar (raw sugar is a nice touch if you have it).
5 Bake the muffins for 15-18 minutes or so, until the tops are golden and spring back lightly when pressed. Remove the muffins from the pan, let them cool for 10 minutes or so, and dig in.

more muffins: chocolate chip | milk-free

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