There has been a shortage of citrus posts here lately and I promise it hasn’t been intentional. My Meyer lemon tree has generously provided for me again this year but it feels like I’ve been out of town more than home on weekends lately. This is not a complaint; my husband and I decided that we would do the things we want to do instead of just talking about them–fill up the calendar with fun activities, seize the day and all that. We are trying to improve our quality of life, bringing back into it the things we’ve always enjoyed doing together–traveling (not necessarily to far away places), cycling, visiting museums–but over the last couple of years we’ve seen a deviation from habit. So yes, we’ve been spending a bit more time away from home enjoying quick getaways and it’s been fun. The only drawback for this blogger has been slightly less time in the kitchen on weekends. But if you love something you make it work, right?
Gone are the days of lounging on weekends. In retrospect, the times we spend away are the most relaxing for me, even if it means scrambling to get things done before we leave and playing catch up when we return. When I’m home, I always feel the need to be busy and inevitably I find myself in the kitchen working on the next meal or snack or dessert. Because my mind is always active with obligations at work and at home, the time I spend focused on a recipe and photographing the finished product is, in another sense, a form of escape. These days, if I want to relax at home, I cook or bake.
I picked a few lemons from my tree yesterday and baked these muffins. (As an aside, the resident buck is now able to reach the higher branches and has obviously enjoyed the Meyer lemon tree more than I have this season. I wonder if throwing a net over the tree will do the trick.) When I Googled a recipe for lemon poppy seed oatmeal muffins the two recipes I happened to click on were identical. I liked the simplicity of the recipe but I didn’t agree with the meager lemon component. If a muffin has “lemon” in its title, it should have more than 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in it. I added close to 1/3 cup in my version and since I was making changes anyway, decided to use nonfat milk, replaced the oil with double the amount in applesauce and added some lemon extract hoping to really make the lemon flavor pop.
These muffins are virtually nonfat with only one egg in the batter and 1 tablespoon of butter in the streusel topping. And you know what? It worked. The muffins weren’t domed like I’d hoped they would be (maybe I used more liquid than needed?) but it didn’t matter. These muffins were full of lemon flavor with a pleasant crunch from the poppy seeds. The outside was golden with a slightly chewy texture–I kind of liked it that way. I was very happy to serve these to my husband who always craves something sweet in the evenings. Given the waist-friendly qualities of these muffins, I offered him the whole tray (he had two with milk) without feeling like I’d have to monitor his consumption (because his will power is zero when it comes to treats). I really liked these healthier muffins. I might have to negotiate with the buck to give up some of his claim on my tree so I can make more of these before citrus season is over.
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup oats
- ⅔ cup sugar (scant, I used superfine)
- 4 teaspoons poppy seeds
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ cup nonfat milk
- 4 oz applesauce (one container)
- 1 egg
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon (about ¼ - ⅓ cup, it was a large lemon)
- ½ teaspoon lemon extract (if you skip this I recommend adding more lemon zest)
- ***For the Streusel Topping***
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon butter, cut into small chunks
- ¼ cup oats
- Preheat your oven to 400℉. You can line your muffin tins with baking cups or spray them with cooking spray. I used the latter and just had no problem with sticking; just ran a butter knife along the edge of the muffin cups.
- Mix the streusel mixture and set aside.
- Combine the dry ingredients from the flour to the baking soda above and also the lemon zest in a large bowl and whisk to ensure they're incorporated nicely. Add the liquids--milk, applesauce, egg, lemon juice and lemon extract and stir to combine.
- Fill the muffin cups and stop with streusel. I used a ⅓ cup capacity muffin pan here so the batter filled to the rim. If you use a larger capacity muffin pan you will have more room.
- Bake for 16-18 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking time.