Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Do you know the muffin man who lives in Drury Lane …” is mentioned by Snopes as a popular nursery rhyme which is rumoured to have been used as a “caution to children, warning them to beware of a 16th-century baker-turned-serial-killer who enticed his young victims by pulling a muffin down the cobblestone streets of London with a string”.

Snopes further says these tales are largely unproven especially considering the rhyme was not recorded until 1820, long after the supposed existence of this “baker-turned-serial killer”. However, a real muffin man of Drury Lane, may well have inspired the rhyme. Drury Lane is a thoroughfare which borders Covent Garden in downtown London and, during the Victoria period, fresh food was delivered door to door by a “muffin man”.  The modern English muffin is the descendant of the “muffin” in this rhyme.

plate of iced muffins with lemon decorations

Quick Bread Muffins

Although the English muffin is a yeast-leavened bread, what I have now come to think of as a muffin is the North American style of cake-like treats. These are quick breads, using chemical rather than yeast leavening, with a thick batter and cooked in individual moulds. Anything goes when it comes to different types of muffins whether it be savoury or sweet, large or small, they are really only limited by your imagination. 

aerial shot of plate of iced muffins with lemon decorations

Recipe

This recipe is inspired by the Minimalist Baker. They are quick and easy to make and the end result is a “moist, wholesome, perfectly sweet-tart, and delicious” treat which is vegan and can be made gluten free*. The recipe is extremely versatile and the poppy seeds can be omitted or substituted with fruit, nuts or seeds.

This recipe yields 12 small muffins which will keep for 4-5 days and any leftovers are freezer friendly for about a month.

close up of iced muffin with lemon decorations

Muffins:

  • 2 flax eggs (5 Tbs water and 2 Tbs flaxmeal)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 Tbs lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil or avocado oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1/3 cup natural cane sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp poppy seeds (optional)
  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (or sub unbleached all-purpose)*
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats*
  • 1/2 cup almond meal**

Basic Icing:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar (sifted)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

Cashew Frosting:

  • 3/4 cup raw cashews (soaked 2-3 hours and rinsed)
  • 2 Tbs melted coconut oil
  • 3 Tbs maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • zest of lemon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1-3 Tbs water (as needed for blending)
plate of iced muffins with lemon decorations

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C) and line a standard muffin tin with 12 paper liners, or lightly grease.
  2. Prepare flax eggs by mixing flaxmeal with the water in a large mixing bowl and let rest for a few minutes. While waiting, zest lemon(s).
  3. Add applesauce, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla, oil, almond milk, maple syrup or agave, cane sugar, baking soda, salt and whisk (it will foam up because the lemon juice will react with the baking soda).
  4. Add flour, almond meal and oats and stir until just combined, being careful not to over-mix. The batter should be quite thick and scoopable rather than pourable. If the batter appears too thick, add a touch more almond milk. Add the poppy seeds and gently stir once more.
  5. Divide batter evenly between muffin tins (makes 12 small muffins).
  6. Bake for 22-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove from tins and let cool completely on a cooling rack.
  7. To make the basic icing, whisk the sifted powdered sugar and lemon juice together in a small bowl until a thin, pourable glaze is formed and brush or drizzle on the muffins.
  8. To make the cashew frosting, soak the cashews for a few hours and then blend using a high-speed blender with the remaining ingredients until icing has a thick, spreadable consistency.

Notes:

*To make this recipe gluten-free, use gluten free rolled oats and sub a gluten free flour blend for the whole-wheat pastry flour.
**If you don’t have almond meal on hand, just replace it with more whole-wheat pastry flour.

plate of iced muffins with lemon decorations


Closing Thoughts

These muffins have the bright, citrusy flavour of lemons and can be enjoyed on their own or with the addition of either a simple icing or a rich cashew frosting. The muffins pictured here have the cashew frosting and, with this level of decadence, they are starting to more closely resemble a cupcake! Although it can be tough to visually distinguish a cupcake from a muffin, apparently there are a number of differences in the ingredients and baking methods. However, the actual differences between a muffin and a cupcake … well, that is a whole other story!!

For more information about the Minimalist Baker and other great whole food, plant-based ideas, see Resources.

Dragon's Picnic icon - red dragon looking at row of juices

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