Good Muffin Tops

We like these muffin tops!  Not those muffin tops. You know the ones I mean. Whoever named that unfortunate anatomical phenomenon of recent years hit the nail on the head. Or sides. A master of observance. Brilliant.

Much like the LBD of Cookies, anyone who cooks or bakes really should have a decent arsenal of muffin recipes, too. Who the heck doesn’t like a good muffin? That’s the trick, too. Making them good. Not dry. Not lacking in whatever is supposedly their namesake ingredient (uh, hello? a blueberry muffin with virtually no berries? Not going to fly). Not too sugary (that’s called a “cupcake”). Not too blah.

I’ve found two that are loved and beloved in my kitchen. In fact, I made the Tuscan Lemon ones the other night and then had to turn around very shortly after to whip up another batch. I think even the cats were stealing some in the dark of night.  I will say, though, that you really should eat these in the first 24 hours. During that time, they are light and moist and fabulously lemony. After that, they get a bit denser and somehow start to resemble lemony corn muffins. Don’t know. The blueberry ones are quite honestly the most attractive blueberry muffins that I have ever made and they taste great, too.  I don’t think I’ve ever really been so impressed with the appearance of a muffin before. At least not one without frosting on it.

Go get your muffin on today. Around here, it’s raining, so that makes it a good day to stay inside and bake something. And you know…Mom’s Day is coming. These would both work like charms to charm your mama or any delightful woman on her special day. You know, that day that you are NOT going to forget to buy something for? And the day that you will not scramble at the last minute to get a card for? Wink, wink…

Tuscan Lemon Muffins (not to be confused with Tuscon), from Cooking Light

1.75 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2.5 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tb. grated fresh lemon zest (I alway just use the whole lemon’s worth)
2 Tb. fresh lemon juice (again, I just use what was in that ol’ lemon)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
cooking spray
2 Tb. turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 375. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center. In another bowl, combine ricotta, water, olive oil, lemon rind and juice . Pour into little well in dry ingredients bowl and gently combine. Stir just until moist.

The recipe says to use muffin-cup liners, but my kids find them annoying. So, I just spray the tins REALLY well and they come out just fine. Nicely golden on the bottom, in fact. This is up to  you if you want to use them. Works both ways. Spoon batter into muffin tins (with or without liners), sprinkle with a tad of turbinado sugar and bake for about 16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out squeaky clean. Dot with butter and head to Tuscany. In your kitchen.

Light Blueberry Muffins, courtesy of The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

2 cups plus 1 Tb. all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1 Tb. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup plus 1 Tb. granulated sugar
4 Tb. unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1.5 cups plain lowfat yogurt
2 cups fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 375. Coat a muffin pan generously with cooking spray. Mix 2 cups of the flour, the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1/4 cup of the sugar together and set aside.

Beat 3/4 cup of the remaining sugar and the butter together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until combined. Beat in the lemon juice, zest and vanilla until incorporated. Mix in 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by 1/3 of the yogurt. Repeat twice more, alternating between flour mixture and yogurt. Do not overmix.

Toss the blueberries with remaining flour then gently fold them into the batter (you don’t want bluey-gray-purple muffins!). Scoop into muffin tins and sprinkle with remaining Tb. of sugar. Bake until lightly golden, about 25 minutes, or until that ol’ toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool in tins for 5 minutes, then flip out into The Rack and let cool 10 minutes before serving. Small hands and impatient husbands tend not to wait that long.

Enjoy these GOOD muffins!

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