I was climbing the canyon on my bike earlier this week and could finally feel the satisfying, salty sweat of almost-summer rolling down my temples. I didn’t need sleeves, or legs, or even gloves to keep warm on my ride – spring was all around. But back out of the canyon, out and about in town, the real story is revealed; it’s still to early to say spring has sprung. The trees have yet to bud, the grass is still emerging from piles of crusty snow, and while the bulbs are planted in the yard, they haven’t yet sprung green. A sea of oranges still greets me – fresh from California – when I walk into the grocery store, which means we’re months yet from having fresh local fruit to bake with. Sigh.
Having to wait for fruits + vegetables has, literally, been the hardest part of moving from California. By this time, I’m sure the Bay Area has those delicious tiny strawberries, and the first blueberries, and that raspberries aren’t far behind. I sometimes like to visit the websites of our favorite restaurants there, just to see what they’re making + baking, and to torture myself. When I came across a mention of the poppyseed muffin w/kumquat marmalade presently featured at Craftsmen + Wolves, I was reminded that if these masters of pastry bliss can bake creatively without fresh berries, surely so can I.
So, I decided to play with my own poppyseed + marmalade muffin. I was dreaming of a buttery, light poppy seed crumb with a juicy core of tart marmalade (like the best kind of secret hidden in the center, and the best kind of muffin that doesn’t require jam – it brings it’s own!) Kumquat (like all the other fruits) are hard to come by for us, so I resigned myself to homemade lemon marmalade. I’m still working on making the core as “jammy” as possible, and in practice the marmalade became more like a swirl of bright fruit (this could be because the homemade marmalade was a bit less jelly like than a store-bought variety. You can see the marmalade layer towards the bottom of the muffin in the photograph below.) I’m ok with it because it gives me a good project to work on in these last weeks without fruits, and has launched a whole fleet of jam-core ideas for pastries to come. Here’s the marmalade I whipped up but for the sake of sanity, I suggest you use the best store-bought variety – be it orange or lemon – you can find.
What else about these poppyseed + lemon marmalade muffins….they’re lovely. And moist, and bright. They’d also be excellent with a handful of blueberries tossed in, or with some almonds in the crumble topping. They’d class up a spring celebration (if you have one on the calendar,) and would go really nicely with a frittata or poached eggs.
The crumb is delicate enough that I don’t recommend tucking these into your jersey pockets, or backpacks, but it’s not always about trying to speed things up; there are some things worth waiting for. Like fruits. And great muffins. – Enjoy! xo L
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- 1/4 cup highest quality marmalade
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375°F. Line a muffin pan with paper or foil liners and set aside.
- To make the topping: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and rub together with clean fingertips until crumbly. Cover the bowl and set aside.
- To make the muffins: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Keep an eye on the butter - it will melt, froth, and begin to crackle. The crackling will subside and butter will begin to brown fairly quickly. Remove from heat when butter solids become a medium brown color and butter smells slightly nutty. Immediately pour hot butter into a small bowl, and allow to cool slightly. (If you don't cool the butter, it will cook the eggs when you add it in the next step! Eek!)
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together milk, egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the cooled browned butter and whisk to combine.
- Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add milk mixture all at once to the flour mixture and stir gently to combine. Gently but thoroughly fold in the lemon zest, and poppyseeds until just combined. Next, fill each muffin cup with about 1/3 cup batter. Spoon 1 tsp. jam on top of each. Cover with remaining batter so each cup is almost full. Sprinkle with prepared topping.
- Bake muffins 18 to 20 minutes until golden and crisp and a skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool muffins in the pan for 15 minutes before removing. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Muffins will last, at room temperature in an airtight container, for up to 3 days. I like them best the day they are made.