Friday, June 1, 2012

Lemon Lavender Muffins

A few weeks ago, my friend Yvette–who is also one of The Hubs’ colleagues–sent me a basket of beautiful eggs from the chickens she and her family are raising.  The eggs themselves are long gone, of course, but I needed to return her basket and wanted to fill it with something light and summery.   It turns out that both The Hubs and Yvette had to be at an early meeting today, so I sent him to campus with a batch of these delicious Lemon Lavender Muffins–a few in the egg basket, just for Yvette and her family, and the rest for the committee members (who would, I was certain, be feeling disgruntled about having to be at work early on a summer morning.  There are very few perks to being a professor, but leisurely summer mornings are one of them.)

I love the flavor of lavender, especially paired with lemon.  Even so, it’s important to remember that lavender is an aromatic herb and very little goes a long way.  Too much lavender will give a bitter taste to whatever you’re making.  I used a tablespoon in this recipe, which is about half of what many other recipes will suggest; it gives the muffins a very light lavender flavor, but that’s what I wanted.  Just know that you’d be safe in doubling the amount of lavender and adjust accordingly.

You can find dried culinary lavender in specialty grocers or on the spice aisle at World Market.  The lavender buds will need to be ground, either in a food professor (grinding the buds with the sugar will help to distribute the lavender oil and give you a stronger lavender flavor), in a spice/coffee grinder, or with a mortar and pestle.  I ground lavender, sprinkled it into the sugar, then sprinkled the lavender sugar through a fine mesh sieve as I added it to the flour, just to catch any remaining large pieces of lavender.  If you use a food processor, that last step probably won’t be necessary.  (I have a food processor, but it’s an older model and very heavy, so I rarely drag it out of the cabinet.)

This recipe calls for Greek yogurt, but any variety of yogurt will suffice–even light sour cream would work.  Plain or lemon yogurt would be fine, if you can’t find honey-flavored yogurt at your local grocery store.  Honey-flavored Chobani Greek yogurt is my favorite, and I thought the touch of honey would add a little something to these muffins.  It most certainly did.  Next time I make a batch, though, I’m thinking I might use plain yogurt and lavender honey, just to see how that tastes by comparison.  I might also try topping them with a lemon-lavender glaze, rather than using a sprinkle of turbinado sugar–I didn’t do that this time around because The Hubs was taking them to a meeting, and I didn’t want them to be sticky or messy to eat.

The Girl ate two of these last night and pronounced them “super yummy.”  I’m hoping for a similarly positive report from The Hubs when he comes home this afternoon.

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Lemon Lavender Muffins

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 T. dried lavender, ground
1 T. lemon zest, packed
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 6-oz. container honey-flavored Greek yogurt
1/4 cup lemon juice
6 T. butter or margarine, melted
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Measure the flour into a large bowl. Stir together the sugar and ground lavender, then sprinkle this mixture through a fine mesh sieve to catch any remaining large chunks of lavender. Add the lemon zest, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir all the dry ingredients to combine. (If you want, you can use your fingers to rub the lemon zest into the other ingredients. This will give you a stronger lemon flavor and ensure there are no big clumps of lemon zest in the muffins. I almost always do this when I'm baking with lemon zest.) Make a well at the center of the dry ingredients.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, yogurt, lemon juice, and melted butter. Pour the wet mixture into the well in the dry mixture. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, stir only until the dry ingredients have been incorporated.

Fill 12 muffin liners 2/3 full of the batter. Sprinkle the tops with turbinado sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the muffins have browned and the centers are firm to the touch.

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