Whoa! We know you’ll think this is one crazy recipe for muffins as you read through it. After all, you mix it up in a blender! Yes, a blender. That just doesn’t make sense, does it? After all, we’ve all read that muffin batter is delicate, and you need to mix the liquid parts, then just barely fold in the dry ingredients. We believed that, too, until we tried the best berry muffins ever (we used blackberries and not blueberries as called for in the original recipe) and those were made in a stand mixer. So, we were willing to give this recipe a shot, too.
It doesn’t hurt that this recipe comes from Bouchon Bakery Cookbook, by Thomas Keller and Sebastian Rouxel, where we’ve picked up a some really, really good recipes that just work as they should. The measurements are accurate, the instructions precise, and the results always turn out. So, if you want some muffins, let’s start scratchin’, but, be aware that the batter will need to rest overnight, making it perfect for baking fresh muffins in the morning.
Cake flour; is it needed? With all that blending going on, we think that all-purpose flour would develop too much gluten, making for a tough muffin, so go with cake, and sift it, too, since cake flour can lump. Absolutely use fresh lemon juice. The stuff in bottles tastes metallic, which is not the taste you’re going for; besides, you’ll want the zest off the lemons. That said, conventional lemons are coated with wax, so scrub the daylights out of them before using.
Finally, all the ingredients are listed in grams and by volume; the first one listed is the one we used. While we find it best to measure out large quantities of an ingredient (say flour) by weight, we find it easiest to measure things like vanilla by volume.
Procedure in detail:
Mise en place. Prep your lemons by scrubbing, zesting, and juicing, and measure out the butter into a small saucepan.
Mix dry ingredients. Break out the sifter for the cake flour, and sift the flour and baking powder together into a medium bowl. Add the salt (kosher salt doesn’t sift well), and whisk it in.
Melt butter. So you don’t forget, as we did, now’s a good time to melt the butter. Place it in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. The temperature should be just warm.
Blend sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Measure the sugar into the blender, add the eggs and vanilla, and start blending on the lowest speed. Work up to medium-low, and blend until you have a smooth batter, about a minute.
Add dry ingredients. Put about half of the dry ingredients into the blender and process on medium-low until just incorporated. Add the rest of the flour mixture and repeat. You might need to scrape down the sides of the blender to get all the flour incorporated, or you can try changing the speed to shake it loose. Varying the speed of the blender worked for us.
Add butter. With the blender running on medium-low, pour the butter into the batter in a steady stream and blend until completely blended and smooth, about 30 seconds.
Add lemon juice. With the blender running, pour in the lemon juice and blend until combined. The batter will be thinner than you might expect, more of a smooth cake or pancake batter, than a muffin batter.
Fold in zest and seeds. Transfer the batter to a clean bowl and fold in the poppy seeds and the lemon zest. Your muffin batter is mixed.
Refrigerate. Cover the batter and refrigerate it overnight, or as long as 36 hours. We baked six muffins the next day, and another six the day after that, and both sets turned out tasting and looking the same. So, if you like these muffins, you can consider making the batter right before the weekend, and having fresh muffins on Saturday and Sunday.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line muffin tins with papers, and, if you want, spray with non-stick baking spray (we didn’t and our muffins didn’t really stick).
Divide batter. The batter will have thickened considerably overnight, to the point of resembling a stiff pudding that you can scoop. So, scoop out equal amounts of batter into the muffin tins, filling them about 3/4 of the way. If you want to use a scale, you should scoop out 67 g of batter for each cup. If you measure by weight, don’t bother smoothing off the top; the batter thins quite a bit while baking, making smoothing unnecessary.
Bake. Place the muffins in the center of the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 325°F. Bake for 34 to 37 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. These muffins seem to puff up a lot and the tops crack while baking, but they don’t brown all that much, so use the time and skewer as your guides.
Cool. Let the muffins cool on a wire rack as long as you can stand it, then dish up.
Well, we have to say that we were not overly impressed with these muffins. This is probably the first recipe from Thomas Keller that failed to live up to our expectations. We were expecting a nice golden, tender, nearly fall-apart muffin, but, instead, these were like a lemon-poppy seed cupcake with a top that cracked and deformed. They tasted good, and they had a great cake-like texture, but, as muffins for breakfast, they disappointed. Three stars.