Winter citrus fruits are flourishing throughout Southern California, and for the first time ever, the season’s bounty is blooming right on our front porch. The Astronomer’s parents gifted us the most adorable dwarf Meyer lemon tree when they visited last spring, and after nurturing it through the summer and into fall, it finally bore fruit that we could pluck and enjoy this winter.
While I’ve tasted Meyer lemons in various dishes at restaurants, I never fully understood the complexity of their flavor until I actually cooked and baked with them. Not only is Meyer lemon juice sweeter, but it also has an indescribable and distinct tang that makes it wholly unique.
Lemon-flavored muffin recipes usually call for just juice and zest, like these lemon ricotta muffins that I love, but this recipe calls for the whole shebang—juice, zest, pith, and all. The result is a truly moist muffin that’s studded with lemon pieces and laced with a slight bitterness. A sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar on the top of each one successfully mellows the lemon’s astringent notes.
It’s worthwhile to seek out Meyer lemons for this recipe because I find that their flavor, as compared to regular lemons, is different enough that something would be lost by substituting one for the other. Experiencing Meyer lemons in full effect is a must for all citrus lovers.
- 9 ounces all-purpose flour (2 cups)
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 Meyer lemons, divided
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the flour, 1 cup sugar, the baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
Cut two lemons into 1-inch pieces. Put them in a blender and pulse until the lemon is finely chopped. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the milk, butter and chopped lemon. Stir.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the lemon mixture. Stir just until all ingredients are moistened.
Place 12 muffin-cup liners in muffin cups; coat with cooking spray. Spoon the batter into muffin cups, filling each half full.
Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Sprinkle about one-fourth teaspoon over each muffin. Cut the remaining lemon into 9 paper-thin slices; cut each slice in half. Top each muffin with half a slice of lemon.
Bake about 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Serve warm.
Makes 18 muffins.
More muffin recipes on Gastronomy: