Lemon and Almond Muffins

The sad thing about moving away from the village that one lived in and away from the church that one went to is that one is no longer near to one’s friends. But the nice thing about moving to somewhere not too far away is that one can still meet one’s friends for coffee. And so, one Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago I took a short train ride to meet up with two good friends for coffee and cake. My cake of choice was a lemon and poppy seed muffin, and it was tasty. Tasty enough, in fact, that whilst trying to think of a recipe with which to start blogging properly this year (only a month into the year…), I decided to try my hand at lemon and poppy seed muffins. Unfortunately, however, the small supermarket that I went into at a ridiculously early hour for one who has the day off (and hence time to try making muffins) was not particularly obliging. Following a futile search for poppy seeds, I approached one of the shop assistants to ask if they sold them and was told that they did not, but they did have sunflower seeds. Somehow the thought of lemon and sunflower muffins just didn’t have the same appeal as lemon and poppy so I had to substitute the poppy seeds for flaked almonds, and thankfully they still taste good. One of the keys to making good muffins is to keep your stirring to a minimum – when you add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, stir them together just enough to wet and incorporate all the dry ingredients.

I’m still getting used to having an electric oven (as opposed to the gas oven that I know and love) and a month in I am still figuring out my desired oven temperature by thinking about what gas mark I would have put the oven on in the old house and then checking a conversion chart to see what it is in Celsius. I’m a gas not electric person at heart and so, for now, I’m going to keep giving oven temperatures in gas mark, followed by the Celsius and Fahrenheit temperatures in brackets. As I’m still getting used to the oven and I’m not always very good at keeping an eye on the time, I’d strongly advise going with smell and sight to see when the muffins are done, rather than going on the timings that I give below. One thing I haven’t given up with moving is my way of measuring and so, as is most often the case, the cup measurements below are all based on 1 cup equalling 250 mls. This makes about 9 medium sized muffins and would probably make about 6 large muffins. The glaze recipe below makes more than you’ll need for one batch of muffins so either plan to make two batches of muffins or plan to make a lemon drizzle cake and use the glaze for the drizzle.

For the Muffins:

What you need:

1 cup flaked almonds
2 cups self raising flour
Pinch salt
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 egg
1/4 cup melted margarine/butter
1/2 cup buttermilk

What to do:

1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6 (200ºC or 400ºF).
2. Spread the flaked almonds across a baking tray and toast in the pre-heated oven for a few minutes until golden-brown. When the almonds are done, remove them from the oven and leave the oven on as it will then stay warm for the muffins (which will go in at the same temperature).

3. Sift the flour, salt and sugar into a bowl. Tip the toasted almonds into the bowl and mix together with the flour, salt and sugar.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, egg and melted margarine/butter. You could probably add the buttermilk to the bowl as well, but as I forgot to and am not too sure what the lemon juice might do to it, I’m not going to give it as an explicit instruction here…


5. Tip the liquid ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk (if you didn’t add it in the previous step…). Mix together gently and briefly with a whisk until all the dry ingredients are incorporated into the wet ingredients.


6. Line a muffin tin with muffin cases and spoon the mixture into the cases.


7. Bake in the middle of the pre-heated oven for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. When baked, remove the muffins, in their cases, from the tin and leave to cool on a cooling rack. Glaze once cool.


For the glaze:


What you’ll need:
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
What to do:
1. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl.
2. Pour the lemon juice over the icing sugar and whisk together thoroughly.


3. Either dip each muffin into the glaze or spoon the glaze over each muffin (I found a combination of both worked best for me), and then leave on a cooling rack (with silver foil or baking parchment below the rack to catch drips) whilst the glaze hardens.


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