Muffins are so easy. I mean, there are so many recipes that produce beautiful muffins with just a bowl and a spoon. And the little individual size treats always look so sweet. These are a little different. They require a little more washing up and a few additional steps, but the difference between “oh, good…muffins” and “wow, you make great muffins” makes the small effort worthwhile. They are in no way difficult – just more than dump and stir. Anyone you share this with will thank you.
Sunny orange is perfect for these not winter-not spring days. Don’t skip the step of soaking the poppy seeds. It softens them up and brings out some of their lightly woodsy flavor, rather than just being the thing that gets stuck in your teeth. Buttermilk always makes for tender muffins, and the drizzle of sugary topping adds just the right amount of sweet. These muffins hold well in an airtight container, so you can make them the day before and serve them at breakfast. You can use the same method for lemon poppyseed muffins, obviously replacing the orange, or even use both for a citrus blend. I garnished these with some candied orange rounds I picked up at Trader Joe’s.
Orange Poppy Seed Muffins
¾ cup whole buttermilk
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds
Zest and juice of one navel orange (about 5 Tablespoons juice)
2/3 plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
Heat the buttermilk in the microwave for 30 seconds or until its hot to the touch. I do this in a small measuring jug. Stir in the poppy seeds and leave to cool to room temperature. While the buttermilk is cooling, put the sugar in a small bowl, then grate in the orange zest with a microplane. Process until the orange zest and sugar are well combined. The sugar will be damp. Measure out two Tablespoons of the orange sugar and place in a small saucepan and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray 12 muffin cups with baking spray.
Put the sugar into a bowl and add the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda and mix with a fork to completely combine the sugar and flour. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter, eggs and 4 Tablespoons of orange juice until very well combined. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and stir just until the ingredients are mixed. Do not mix too vigorously. Divide the batter between the muffin tins (I use a scoop) then bake for 18 – 20 minutes until a tester inserted in the center come out clean. While the muffins are cooking, add the remaining orange juice to the sugar in the saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.
Run a small knife around the edge of the muffins to loosen them from the tin. Spoon the orange sugar syrup over the tops of the muffins and leave too cool. The muffins will keep in an airtight container for a day.