Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lemon-ginger muffins

I have issues with muffins. I think they're sneaky - masquerading around as health food when they're usually nothing more than cupcakes without frosting. Don't get me wrong - I love cake in the morning, but I like it straight up and honest and fully frosted. If you're waiting in the line for coffee, agonizing over the donut you really want and the lowfat muffin you feel like you should order, go ahead and buy the donut. Nine times out of ten you'll find that it has fewer calories, I kid you not.

Of course, there are exceptions. Muffins are handy for grabbing on the way out the door early in the morning, so I'll often make these uber-healthy ones. This weekend I wanted something a bit more decadent but not as toothachingly sweet as your average muffin. I had a large chunk of fresh ginger in the fridge, so I started searching around for a good recipe.


I know you don't frequently see me lighten up recipes, but there are occasions where it's justified. You won't even miss the extra butter and sugar in these babies, I promise. They have a tender crumb and the most perfect balance of fresh lemon and ginger flavors. I added extra yogurt to make up for the lost butter and subbed half the all purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour. We gobbled them up. The ginger plays especially well with homemade apricot jam.

lemon-ginger muffin, with jam
{lemon-ginger muffin, with apricot jam}

Fresh lemon-ginger muffins (makes 16, heavily adapted from this recipe)
  • A 2-ounce piece unpeeled ginger root
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest with some pith
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line (or grease) 16 muffin tins.

:: If you have a food processor, process the ginger until it is in tiny pieces. And yes, 2 ounces of ginger is a pretty substantial hunk. In my picture above, I used the entire piece of ginger. I was skeptical about leaving it unpeeled, but it was fine. Or, hand chop it into fine pieces. You should have about 1/4 cup. It is better to have too much ginger than too little.

:: Put the ginger and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a small skillet and cook over medium heat until the sugar has melted and the mixture is hot. Do not walk away from the pan - the sugar will melt quite quickly. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool completely.

:: Put the lemon zest (because the recipe calls for zest with a bit of pith, I didn't use my zester but instead sliced off pieces of the lemon peel, leaving a bit of pith on, as seen here) and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar in the food processor and process until the peel is in small bits. Or, sprinkle the sugar over the zest and chop by hand. Add the zest and sugar mix to the ginger mixture and set aside.

:: In a mixing bowl, beat the butter slightly, then add the lemon and ginger mixture. Add the eggs and beat well. Add the yogurt and mix until blended. Add the flour, salt and baking soda and mix until just combined and relatively smooth.

:: Spoon the batter into the muffin cups so that each cup is about 3/4 full. Bake 15-20 minutes. Serve warm.

Nutrition facts - 129 calories per muffin, 4 grams of fat (2.2 grams saturated), 19.9 grams carbs, 1.1 grams fiber, 7.8 grams sugar, 3.4 grams protein


  1. Rachel I am SO making these this weekend to eat with my swap jam. Now I just have to ask my neighbor to borrow a muffin pan. ;)

  2. i totally agree with you on the muffins as unfrosted cupcakes! ha!
    these muffins sound perfect...i'm going to make these in a couple of weekends when my husband comes home from a business trip!

  3. i like your rational...i suppose i follow a similar one and make cupcakes since they're not pretending to be health food. of course, 3 cupcakes later, i never feel all that great.

  4. I love a homemade muffin in the morning. After a bran muffin disaster yesterday, I could really go for these.

  5. So great! I'm a bit of an anti-muffin person too. Much rather go for a wholewheat scone. Though I have tried some wheat-free, sugar-free muffins that are quite tasty.

  6. y.u.m. i've been doing apple/bran muffins and am burnt out...these look like a perfect way to switch it up. will be trying these very soon!

  7. these sound superb! so does the apricot jam. i've got to start making my own!

  8. Oh yum! Thank you for sharing. Somehow ginger and lemons have become staples in my home. I always love finding anew way to use them.

  9. yum, those sound great!!

  10. Oh, yum! i hate having no kitchen while i'm in the dorms! A lot of the time, if i make yoghurt cakes, i sub some of the flour for semolina or almond meal. Changes the texture, but they both go really well with the yoghurt if you ever wanted to make this with a little variation.

  11. These muffins sounds delicious. Love the fresh flavors.

  12. anything with lemons makes me happy

  13. these sound divine! i agree with char!

  14. yay! thanks for constantly reinforcing that it was ok to make these without a mixer. :) I was able to make them last night without an i-don't-have-the-right-equipment breakdown. they were super easy and now i have a batch to bring to our chili cook off at work today.

  15. awesome, and well played re. the sugar and butter! our tiny local bakery in joshua tree has these outrageously delicious pumpkin-chocolate muffins in the morning, and i always feel sneaky eating them at breakfast since there is absolutely NOTHING nutritiously redeeming about them!

    and i have some meyer lemons, so i'm trying these babies tomorrow and packing them up for our trip to death valley. huzzah!

    (and ps. you are the cutest. ever. would have been rad to meet you on sat night but perhaps i'll entice you to come out the hi-dez for another show later this spring!)

  16. mmm. If my kitchen can't have delicious muffins, perhaps it can have your adorable red vintage bowl?

  17. I am determined to become a person who makea muffins. I'm gonna attempt these with gluten-free flour. I'll let you know how it goes!

  18. mmm... just made these this morning. absolutely delicious. thanks so much for the recipe!!

  19. Just made these. Put in the lemon juice of one lemon and didn't need the yogurt. The mixture tasted fantastic and my home smells heavenly. Can't wait to have one with my nightly cup of tea!


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