Everyone who loves muffins raise your hands. Hey, raise them, we know you love muffins. Don’t be shy; we won’t tell anyone how silly you look reading this post with your hands in the air. That’s it. Higher. Higher. Perfect.
As you do, we love muffins, although we don’t make them all that often, and, when we do, we go for the best blueberry muffins on the planet: by following the recipe in Bouchon Bakery, by Thomas Keller and Sebastian Rouxel. (Make the Blackberry Muffins we posted, only use blueberries instead of blackberries; we think they’ll change your life). But, this time we wanted Almond and Poppy Seed muffins, so what to do?
Well, we figured that we could just jigger around with the Blueberry/Blackberry Muffin recipe and see what we get. So, we did. Now, we might like to claim that this is 100% our recipe, but that would be a lie; it’s probably about 2% ours, but that’s enough for us.
Cake flour: it’s expensive, but is it worth it? We think so; we use a couple of pounds about every 2-3 months, so we have no problem using it, but, if you’re buying it just for this recipe, well, we might give it a miss and deal with a little denser, but still tasty, muffin. Always use unsalted butter for baking; you have no idea how much salt is in the various salted butters, so it’s difficult to compensate. For the honey, find local honey to support those apiarists who keep the bees, that pollinate the flowers, that grow into food, that keep us alive. The eggs: wouldn’t it be great if you could find a neighbor who has a few hens, who needs a muffin or two, and would gladly hand over the freshest, best-tasting egg you’ve ever had? We don’t have such a neighbor, but we do buy our eggs from such a person. Finally, note that the ingredients are listed by weight first; we recommend weighing, if possible, but, like ours, your scale probably only reads to the nearest gram, so we still need those volume measurements for the small amounts. And that’s okay. It’s also okay to use the volume measurements, too.
Procedure in detail:
Sift flours. Years ago, when we saw the instruction to sift flours, it was like, oh, man, another step; the flour package indicates pre-sifted, why sift again? Well, flour compacts as it travels, and this fluffs it back up; once you sift flour for a half-dozen recipes, you won’t think anything of it, especially if you use a scale. Just place the sifter into a bowl, measure out the flours, add the baking soda and baking powder on top and sift away. Once sifted, toss the salt on top and whisk it in. Now set aside the flour for a bit.
Mise en place. After we sifted the flours, we started getting everything else ready. We had to let the butter warm, so we measured the sugar, took out the buttermilk and egg, got out the almonds, poppy seeds, and honey. Having the ingredients out and measured (at least some of them) makes things easier later.
Cream butter. Measure the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle. Turn to medium-low and cream the butter until it’s smooth and shiny. If your butter has warmed to room temperature, this should take about a minute. If it’s taking longer, let the butter warm some more and try again.
Add sugar. With the mixer still on medium-low, slowly pour in the sugar, and cream together the two until light and fluffy. This will take about 4 minutes or so. We used this time to measure the buttermilk into the measuring cup that held the sugar; that way, we keep just a bit ahead of the game.
Add honey. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the honey. Here’s where a scale shines. We just place the bowl of the mixer on the scale, press tare, and spoon in honey until it reads 94 g. Then we lick off the spoon (to keep our energy levels up), put the bowl back in place and mix in the honey, about 1 minute.
Add egg and almond extract. Scrape down the bowl. Add the almond extract and the egg and mix until just combined, about 30 seconds.
Add flour and buttermilk. Okay, we need to add both in two additions: half the flour, mix, half the buttermilk, mix, remaining flour, mix, remaining buttermilk, mix. At each stage you should mix just long enough to incorporate the ingredients, generally 15 to 20 seconds, and then scrape down the sides. Once everything is in, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to get any flour mixture that’s hiding.
Fold in poppy seeds and almonds. Finally, fold in the poppy seeds and the almonds, push all the dough into a ball in the center of the bowl, and cover.
Rest. Place the dough in the refrigerator overnight (or from 12 to 36 hours) so the flour can properly hydrate. That way, you can bake up fresh muffins in the morning for breakfast, too. Win-win. And, if you bake only six, you can have fresh muffins two days in a row.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line muffin tins with 12 paper cupcake liners. (We’re assuming that you’ll bake all 12 at once; if not, obviously adjust accordingly).
Fill tins. Divide the dough equally among the cupcake liners, filling them to about 1/2 inch from the top. Sprinkle about 1 tsp of streusel topping onto each one, pressing it lightly into the surface.
Bake. Slide those muffins into the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 325°F. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the muffins are golden, and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool. Place the muffins, still in the pans, on a rack to cool completely, or as long as you can wait. For us, that’s about 10 seconds before we start eating a hot muffin.
While these are not quite as good as the blueberry muffins, they’re still very good. Nice and tender, filled with almond flavor and almond pieces, they make a great little breakfast. Especially fresh out of the oven. So, if you’re looking for a little treat for tomorrow’s breakfast, consider these almond poppy-seed muffins. You won’t be sorry. Four stars.