Lemon Poppy Seed Blueberry Muffins

Growing up, my mother used to make lemon poppy seed cake for my great grandmother almost every time we saw her – so, weekly.  I will never forget the tan curves of cake, fresh out of the bundt pan, the smell of lemon wafting through the air, as I patiently waited until I was allowed to cut into the cake and eat it with my grandmother.

The combination of lemon and poppy seed has always been one of my favorites – it's light, not too sweet, and tastes like summer, even in the middle of winter.  I feel the same way about the common pairing of blueberries and lemon – the bright acidity brings out the natural sweetness of the blueberries, giving cakes, pies, and cookies layers of flavor that they wouldn't have otherwise.  My favorite way to showcase this flavor pairing is through blueberry muffins.

In addition to lemon poppy seed cakes, my mother also used to make blueberry muffins on weekend mornings.  She would always leave a little extra batter at the bottom of the bowl and let me scoop it out with a big tablespoon to eat raw.  I never wanted to add anything else to the muffins – no lemon, no almond, just blueberries and batter – but now, I can't eat blueberry muffins without lemon. 

This original recipe is from a 1986 article by Nancy Harmon Jenkins in The Times.  As I do with every recipe I encounter, I added a couple of ingredients here and there...mainly, the lemon and the poppy seeds!


Lemon Poppy Seed Blueberry Muffins

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsps salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup poppy seeds
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¾ cup milk, half whole and half skim
  • ⅓ cup salted butter, melted
  • Juice of one large lemon
  • 2 tsps vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup blueberries, half mashed and half whole
  • Lemon zest
  • Sparkling sugar

Preheat oven to 425º F and line a muffin tin with either liners or grease with butter.  Combine the flour, salt, powder, sugar, and poppy seeds in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine the beaten eggs, milk, cooled melted butter, lemon juice, and vanilla.  Gently stir into the dry ingredients but do not over mix!  The batter won't be smooth.  Pour in the mashed and whole blueberries and gently mix.  Scoop into prepared muffin tins, filling a little more than halfway. Combine the lemon zest and sparkling sugar, and top each muffin with a small sprinkling.  Bake for 20 to 22 minutes.  Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for five minutes before removing to cool completely.

These muffins are delicious hot out of the oven or even the next day.  You can substitute the blueberries for any sweet and ripe fruit, and adjust the cooking time accordingly (fruits with more water like strawberries might need a little extra time, but just watch the oven!)  You can almost omit the poppy seeds and the lemon juice for plain blueberry muffins, or remove the lemon and add a teaspoon or so of almond extract.

My name is Alexandra Jade, but you can call me Alex, or Trin.  I am a Food Studies major at New York University, and a freelance photographer, journalist, and social media pro on the side.  I run the instagram account @twobrunchgirls.