indian summer lavender-lemon muffins

We may have just celebrated Halloween but I still have overflowing pots of herbs happily growing on my back steps. I’m thinking about turning some into herbed salt, freezing a bit and making a little chimichuri with a bunch, but really I’d prefer to use as much as I can right now while they’re still fresh. Sage, basil, tarragon, thyme and rosemary are a real no-brainer, you can throw those herbs into just about any savory dish and come out with a winning meal, but what about the lavender? Lavender flowers have a gazillion uses, but recipes using the fresh leaves are much more limited. Lavender, lavender, lavender… what should I do with you?

While I was recipe hunting I found a few recipes for rosemary and lemon shortbread. While I did briefly consider making cookies I thought muffins would be more fun and instead of rosemary I decided to use that elusive fresh lavender. The resulting Lavender-Lemon Muffins were a huge hit, fresh with a subtle lavender flavor and a lovely pop of sweet from the lemon glaze on top. They have quickly become another Greco family favorite and perhaps they’ll become one of your families favorites as well.

Lavender-Lemon Muffins
The lavender in these babies is subtle not overwhelmingly perfumey. They’re really pretty delicious.

lavender-lemon muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. finely chopped fresh lavender
zest of one lemon
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup low-fat milk
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 whole eggs + 1 egg white

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp. lemon juice

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners and lightly coat with cooking spray. In a large bowl combine together the flour, lavender, lemon zest, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  2. Place the sugar and remaining ingredients (through eggs) in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at low speed until smooth. Add the wet mixture to the dry and beat again until blended.
  3. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  4. Combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice. Stir until smooth and set aside.
  5. When the muffins are finished baking allow them to cool completely on a wire rack before drizzling with lemon glaze. Let glaze set and enjoy!
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“those” blueberry muffins

My family and I just returned from our annual summer vacation in Vermont. It’s our yearly opportunity to kick back, relax and enjoy doing all the wonderful outdoor country things the Green Mountains have to offer; not the least of which is going blueberry and apple picking. July is actually blueberry season in New England which means that come mid August the pickins’ were a bit slim. But what was left on the bushes was so crazy plump, sweet and juicy that we had to fight to kids to actually have enough left in our pail to bring home!

Blueberries are one of my favorite fruits. They’re perfect eaten out of hand, can jazz up an ordinary bowl of cold cereal, turn plain pancakes into something special and even add a little something unexpected to a green salad. They’re perfect made into sauce, jam or even turned into an infused cocktail. It seems like the simple blueberry has limitless possibilities.

As you are aware, a few weeks ago I was on a blueberry muffin bender of sorts. I made numerous batches, tweaking and adjusting the recipe again and again until I had what I thought was a winning version. But (sigh) it wasn’t, at least not in the eyes of the bake-off judges. So while my dear son proudly basked in his bake-off glory I quietly collected my cake plate and headed for the door…

But damn it, I worked hard on those muffins and I stand by my recipe! So here it is; the recipe that didn’t make me famous, win me a blue ribbon or change my baking career forever. They may not have been winners at the bake-off, but I still think these are some of the tastiest blueberry muffins you’ll ever make. But you be the judge.

Blueberry-Limoncello Muffins with a Lemon Zest Crumble Topping
These muffins are equally tasty without the limoncello (substitute lemon juice instead) and are great in mini size as well.

For the muffins:
2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
zest of 1 lemon
1 pint fresh blueberries (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup limoncello
1/2 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the crumble:
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup + 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Gently stir in the blueberries and lemon zest.
  3. In a medium bowl combine the melted butter, lemon juice, limoncello, yogurt, egg, and vanilla; stir well with a whisk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold everything together until just moist. Set bowl of batter aside and make the crumble topping.
  4. For the topping; in a small bowl combine the sugar, flour, and lemon zest. Add in the butter and stir until the mixture is crumbly, breaking up any large clumps.
  5. Give the batter one last stir then spoon evenly into the lined muffin cups. Top with a generous amount of crumble.
  6. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow muffins to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then place on a wire rack for remainder of cooling.