There was this cute little café that I used to frequent with a friend for lunch. It was just this hole-in-the-wall from the outside, but it was decorated in a charming, eclectic way inside. The food was quirky and full of charm too.
Their menu changed frequently and seemingly on a whim; sometimes they offered European classics like Crêpes or Gulaschsuppe, and other times it was more American-style fare like creamy chicken salad sandwiches or burgers smothered with caramelized onions and mushrooms. Their soups were killer – even their clear broths were rich and flavorful – and their salads were satisfying as a meal in themselves. Ladies, you know the salads I mean; the fancy lettuce that either has sweet dressing and adornments like fruit, nuts, and maybe some grilled chicken, or savory dressing and additions like bacon, cheese, and fried egg.
I won’t even get started on all the pastries and sweet treats they offered, except to say that they had a pretty big gluten-free variety available as well. My friend has eaten gluten-free for about four years now, and she has always ordered their lemon poppy seed muffin. After seeing her enjoy it time after time, I tried it myself and could immediately see why she was hooked.
When the café closed down for good not long ago, I decided to surprise my friend with a homemade version of her favorite gluten-free muffins.
These muffins are bright with the flavors of lemon and vanilla shining through. They’re sunny and perfect for spring, and also perfect for munching on along with a hot beverage while spending an afternoon with an old friend.
By the way, aren’t these paper muffin liners adorable? (Love Donna Hay!) They were a gift from my dear friend, the fabulous Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. Thank you, Lorraine!
- 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) milk (I used 1%)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 12 tablespoons (175 g) butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups (250 g) sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest (preferably from an organic lemon)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups (480 g) all-purpose gluten-free flour mix (I used King Arthur Flour)
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 375F; line 2 muffin trays with paper liners.
- Add the milk to a small bowl and pour the lemon juice over it; let it sit for 2 minutes without moving the bowl or stirring the milk.
- Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl, and then cream in the eggs until light and fluffy. Beat in the lemon zest, vanilla, and milk/lemon juice mixture (which will be curdled).
- Whisk together the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate large bowl.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry all at once and gently stir with a wooden spoon until just combined, being careful not to over-mix.
- Fill each muffin well about 2/3 full and bake until a toothpick inserted inside comes out clean, about 18 to 20 minutes.