Moist and Fluffy Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (3 of 26)POPPY SEED DELIGHT | Light, delicate, sweet and moist muffins with tiny crunches of poppy seeds and the citrusy kiss of lemon. 

Woke up to a dreary Saturday morning. Rather than to let the dismal weather affect my mood, the optimistic voice inside of me nudged me to bake something to brighten up the day. Not so sure about you, but the scent of lemon always perks up the morning for me, especially in the cold winter days.

When lemon and baking comes to my mind, I instinctively think of warm lemon poppyseed muffins. The key to ensuring these muffins turn out moist and fluffy? Sour cream. Simply replace milk with sour cream in the same quantity and you will be left with moist muffins that can be frozen ahead of time.

These muffins are sweet and simple and comes together quickly – great for last minute cravings.

Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (11 of 26)Poppyseed muffins with a scent of lemon make a warm welcome to the winter blues.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

INGREDIENTS:

Prep Time:  10 minutes | Cook Time: 18-20 minutes | Total Time: 30 minutes | Yield: 8 large muffins (12 small muffins)

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk or sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) butter, melted until browned and cooled
  • 2 Tablespoons poppy seedsLemon PoppySeed Muffins (26 of 26).jpg

METHOD:

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit / 200 degrees Celsius.  Line a 12 mold, regular sized muffin tray with paper muffin liners, place the muffin pan on a baking sheet and set aside.
  2. Zest the lemon with a microplane grater and juice it.Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (23 of 26)Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (24 of 26)
  3. In a large bowl, rub the granulated sugar with the lemon zest until the sugar is lightly coloured and scented with lemon.  Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (21 of 26)
  4. In a medium sized bowl whisk together the eggs, buttermilk (or sour cream) vanilla extract, melted butter and lemon juice.Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (20 of 26)
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold together.  When almost thoroughly mixed, add the poppy seeds.  Divide batter between muffin cups.  Sprinkle each would be muffing with granulated sugar.Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (17 of 26)Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (16 of 26)Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (15 of 26)
  6. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until the tops are golden and a skewer inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (13 of 26)Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (4 of 26).jpg
  7. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before glazing. Best served warm with a cup of tea.Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (6 of 26)Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (1 of 1)

 

Raspberry and Vanilla Bean Financiers

Raspberry Financiers (9 of 22)

Financiers are the perfect delicate treat for a tête-a-tête with friends or a special someone.

After recently spending 3 weeks in Paris learning french and completing a one-day workshop at the famous Le Cordon Bleu – a much needed mini-sabbatical in life – I must confess, I am still missing the City of Lights a lot. A hell lot. Despite I’ve frequented this beautiful city several times, there is always something intriguing and captivating about it every time I go. I always discover something new amidst the mystical charm of this city and continue to be arrested by its rich culture and historical beauty.

They often call Paris the City of Love. I can understand why (and no, just as a disclaimer, I did not meet “the One”– or I think not –  whilst I was there). So why am I infatuated with this city? I am in love with Paris because I feel completely content each time I visit: the feeling of freedom and serenity provides a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong and calms me down instantly.

Moreover, Paris is a truly beautiful walking city. I love the feeling of the freedom of being able to walk everywhere – along the river Seine (my favourite scenic walk), across the Jardin Des Tuileries (my favourite park), among the beautiful boulevards – and know that even when I get lost, I will be rewarded by beautiful scenery, a new cafe or bistro discovery, friendly (or not so friendly) Parisians who will be happy (or do so begrudgingly) to point me in the right direction (if not, I resort to the ever so reliable Google Maps).

One thing I really paid attention to this time round was the sheer number of patisseries that litter literally every street. I lost count of how many eclairs, millefeuilles, croissants, pain du chocolats, and macaroons I’ve consumed during my stay. I just hope that my daily attempt to walk everywhere has exceeded the number of calories I unnecessarily consume. One thing is for sure though, the patisseries are A-grade and two notches sweeter than those found in Asia (attribute it to the different palate among the races). I am not a big fan of millefueille at home (namely because no one gets it right) but when I am here, my favourite millefeuille is the praline one at Laduree (must have!). Meanwhile, on the eclair front, Christopher Adam’s L’eclair de Genie wins the crown (though be forewarned, you may be confronted with a decision-making problem if you were to only pick one amongst his impressive kaleidoscope of eclairs).

Given my nostalgia still for all things Parisian, I decided to bake something distinctly Parisian this Sunday afternoon: financiers (pronounced fee-nahng-syehr). Bonus is that I got to debut the new silicon Teflon financier moulds I bought on my trip 🙂

Before I begin, some basic trivia: did you know the financier was an early and classy form of fast food created for bankers (hence the name ‘financiers’)? They were created in the late 19th century by a pastry chef named Lasne, who had a shop on the rue Saint-Denis near the Bourse, the city’s stock exchange. Recognising bankers in the area were rich, discriminating and always in a hurry, Lasne designed his little unglazed cookie-cake so that it could be eaten without a knife, fork or spoon and without risk to the suit, shirt or tie. He baked the financiers in rectangular moulds that were said to resemble bars of gold.

Financiers are as rich as the bankers they were named for. The batter is made by combining flour with ground almonds and powdered sugar. To that is added lightly beaten egg whites, vanilla extract and brown butter, beurre noisette (or melted unsalted butter will do). They are baked until golden brown in rectangular pans to resemble ingots.

These cakes are beautiful in their simplicity. Sweet, tender, and available in a multitude of variations (throw in some berries or nuts if you wish), they are deliciously soft and have a nutty flavour from the brown butter. Perfect to have alone, they can also be paired harmoniously with a cup of coffee or tea as a great treat during a tête-a-tête with friends or a special someone 😉

Raspberry Financiers (7 of 22)
INGREDIENTS:

(Makes 6)

  • 5 egg whites, room temperature
  • 140g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 vanilla bean or 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 100g almond meal
  • 40g plain flour
  • 90g icing sugar, sifted, plus extra for dusting
  • 2x punnets or fresh raspberries or 200g of frozen raspberries

Raspberry Financiers (18 of 22)

METHOD:

  1. Preheat an oven to 180C (350F). Melt butter and cool to room temperature. Grease a 6-hole rectangular pan well (or muffin tin) with butter. Raspberry Financiers (22 of 22)
  2. In a large mixing bowl, lightly whisk the egg whites to just combine.Raspberry Financiers (21 of 22)
  3. Add the melted butter, almond meal, flour and sifted icing sugar and combine well. Stir in vanilla bean paste (or essence).Raspberry Financiers (20 of 22)
  4. Mix in three quarters of the raspberries into the batter and pour into prepared pans to two thirds full.Raspberry Financiers (19 of 22)
  5. Place two or three raspberries on top of each financier and bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted comes out the center clean.Raspberry Financiers (2 of 22)
  6. Let the financiers cool slightly and then remove from the pan carefully and dust lightly with icing sugar.Raspberry Financiers (3 of 22)
  7. Serve warmed and with extra fresh raspberries, if you like.

Raspberry Financiers (10 of 22)

Raspberry Financiers (16 of 22)Raspberry Financiers (13 of 22)

Homemade Organic Granola with Honey and Sea Salt

Granola with Honey and Seasalt (13 of 29)

For those of you who love granola, it can easily be made within the comfort (and confines) of your own small kitchen (trust me, I know this because I have a small kitchen) in a total of less than 30 minutes. All you need is the base ingredient, rolled oats, plus fruits and nuts of your own choosing. The beauty of making your own granola at home is the control you can exercise over what goes exactly into your pot (not to mention the considerable cost savings). As an additional bonus, it also leaves your house smelling absolutely amazing for hours afterwards (thanks to the cinnamon). The honey delicately sweetens the oats while the sea salt adds an interesting savoury dimension that makes your tastebuds hunger for more. Try this recipe for yourself – it is not overly sweet and is sure to become a real crowd-pleaser.

Granola with Honey and Seasalt (19 of 29)

INGREDIENTS:

(Serves 10. Makes 6 cups.)

  • 4 cups of organic rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup of organic coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup of organic honey
  • 1 teaspoon of organic vanilla essence
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 cup of chopped nuts and dried fruits (I used a breakfast mix – pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and blueberries, raisins, flax seeds – plus a handful of almonds I crushed myself).

Granola with Honey and Seasalt (2 of 29)

METHOD:

1) Preheat oven to 150 degrees celsius. Line two roasting trays (or if you have large over, one roasting tray) with parchment paper. If using raw almonds, crush the almonds in a mortar and pestle.

Granola with Honey and Seasalt (29 of 29)

2) Mix all the dry ingredients together – oats, cinnamon, salt, chopped nuts and fruits – in a large bowl.

Granola with Honey and Seasalt (28 of 29)

3) Mix all the wet ingredients together – coconut oil, honey, vanilla essence – in a smaller bowl.

Granola with Honey and Seasalt (27 of 29)

4) Combine to two together by pouring the wet ingredients into the large bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir together with a spatula (or your hands) until the oats are all evenly coated.

Granola with Honey and Seasalt (25 of 29)

5) Spread the mixture onto the two roasting trays in an even layer. Bake for 10 minutes. Then remove from oven and stir. Bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Granola with Honey and Seasalt (22 of 29)

6) Remove from oven and allow it to cool completely. Store it in an airtight container for storage.

Granola with Honey and Seasalt (6 of 29)

To serve as a healthy breakfast treat, top the granola with some greek yoghurt, fruit (I used nectarines), and drizzle with honey. Can also simply be served with milk. Enjoy 🙂

Granola with Honey and Seasalt (served with nectarines and yoghurt) (1 of 10)