Vanilla chai lemon ricotta muffins

With renewed lockdown restrictions in place in Ontario to kick-off the New Year, I have definitely been feeling the strain of isolation. One of the best pick-me-ups I’ve found is baking (it’s no wonder everyone took to their baking pans during COVID quarantining to turn out loaf upon loaf of sourdough). There is a kind of meditative peacefulness to baking–the assembling the ingredients and all the careful measuring and stirring and forming. A brief respite from the anxieties of the day. I’ve had my eye on this recipe for some time, so a quiet Sunday morning seemed a perfect time for some restorative baking.

Recipe

from Half Baked Harvest
Makes 12 muffins

½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 tbsp lemon zest + 2 tbsp lemon juice
1¾ cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
¼ tsp cardamom
¼ tsp all-spice
¼ tsp salt

Lemon Poppyseed Butter
4 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp poppyseeds
2 tsp lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, mix together olive oil, honey, and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated. Add ricotta cheese, lemon zest and juice, and beat until smooth. Add the whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and remaining dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.

Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Transfer to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Meanwhile, make the poppyseed butter. Combine butter, honey, poppyseeds and zest in a small bowl.

Serve the muffins warm or room temperature, smeared with poppyseed butter.

Musings

A few notes on preparation: I couldn’t find whole wheat pastry flour, so I used 1 cup whole wheat flour and ¾ cup all-purpose flour.

I always marvel at the simplicity of muffins–one bowl baking! These muffins were delightful, as evidenced by the fact that I consumed a quarter of my batch fresh out of the oven. They were light and flavourful, with a lovely aroma. But the poppyseed butter really makes it. Just a touch of sweetness and creaminess to seal the deal and make it quite difficult to refrain from having seconds (or thirds, or fourths!).

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