Now that my children are slowly moving into more independent ages at 5 and 2 years old, I’m starting to discover that I have more time and energy to do some of the things I used to love. One of those things is baking. I just love getting in the kitchen and mixing and measuring and creating a delicious goody to share with the ones I love.
I’ve never really had a sweet tooth. If you told me that I can never have candy or cookies again, I might not even shed a tear. I’m much more of a fan of the savory. Give me cheesy, salty, or creamy goodness to eat over sugary any day and I’ll be happy. But when I’m doing the creating instead of the eating, I love baking up sweet treats way more than cooking a big hearty meal.
When I was young, I had an Easy Bake Oven and a candy maker that I used quite a bit to spur my love for creating treats. But the excitement over those toys only lasted so long. I wanted to make real goodies, not just tiny bite sized morsels that required a lot of work for such a small reward. I was so excited when my mom let me loose in her kitchen to make real, human sized cookies and delicacies.
At age 11 I started a baking business. Tracy’s Sweet Delights sold cookies, muffins, fudge, and other sweet treats for amazingly low prices. My mom helped me create a spreadsheet to calculate expenses, ingredient costs, and determine a price that provided a decent profit. It was definitely a great math lesson for a middle-schooler. I created a menu of options for my customers to choose from and I even had a website for my business, way back in about 1995 (having two parents working in the IT world has its benefits).
I had a standing order on Sunday mornings. I made a dozen muffins for one of the Sunday School classes at church. They let me pick the variety each week and I always doubled the recipe so my family could have Sunday morning breakfast as well. One of the varieties in my rotation were a simple Poppy Seed Muffin.
For the last several weeks, I’ve had an itch to bake something for breakfast on the weekends with my family. I don’t know what it is about waking up early on Sunday mornings and baking, but I loved it when I was 11 and I’m starting to love it again at 31. Baking at this stage of life certainly has a new set of challenges that I never experienced when I was younger. Now I have two curious little children who drag in stools and chairs and climb my legs to peer into my mixing bowls and grab onto my measuring cup handles to offer their “help”. Everything takes much longer and the messes are much more disastrous. But I remember how much I loved baking when I was little and I know that shooing my kids away now will never help them find the love for creating goodies in the kitchen down the road. So, I embrace their “assistance” and the messes that it brings.
This last weekend I decided to make muffins. I don’t plan ahead for these kinds of things, I just wake up with a hankering to bake, so I have to peruse my pantry and fridge to figure out what I have the ingredients to make. I decided to go back to my early baking days and make my Poppy Seed Muffins. I wanted to spice things up a bit, so I asked my little girl if we should add lemon or orange to the muffins. She chose lemon. Then I realized that we were out of butter. Hmm, I searched some more and realized that coconut oil should do the trick and I have plenty of that in my pantry since I buy it in bulk at Costco. That, my friends, is how we discovered this new recipe that I’d like to share with you today.
Lemon Coconut Poppy Seed Muffins. I was quite nervous as these were baking. They sounded good in my head, but I’ve never heard of lemon and coconut together, so I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. I’m raising my children properly and teaching them to savor every lick of extra batter, so of course we had determined that the batter was good, but the finished product was another story. A quick Google search reveals that with over 42 million results, apparently Lemon Coconut recipes are a thing, I had just never heard of them before. It make sense since both lemons and coconut are pretty “tropical” flavors, that somebody has thought of this combo long before me!
Well, I’m pleased to tell you that these muffins were quite delicious. My original Poppy Seed muffin recipe is perfectly fine, but there really isn’t anything all that exciting about a plain poppy seed muffin. It is rather boring. The addition of the lemon and coconut flavors are just enough to jazz this muffin up.
If you are new to coconut oil, you can usually find it in most grocery stores now near the oils (vegetable and olive oils and such). Your regular grocery store prices might not provide the best value or quality though. If searching the stores isn’t your thing, you can easily find it online. I’ve used this Nature’s Way Coconut Oil before and it works great. You want to make sure that you get an unrefined coconut oil, this is typically going to be labeled as “virgin” or “extra virgin”. The virginity of coconut oil doesn’t really mean the same things that “extra virgin” does with olive oil, so the labeling can get a little confusing. If you get a refined coconut oil though, it won’t be coconut-y which defeats the entire purpose of using it for this recipe. You want a solid at room temperature, white, very coconut smelling coconut oil if you want coconut flavored muffins.
Speaking of room temperature, if you are making these in the summer or you like to keep your furnace cranked to sauna like temperatures, you might need to put your coconut oil in the fridge for a while before whipping up these muffins. Coconut oil is a solid at room temperature, but becomes a liquid at about 76 degrees and above. You will need to cream together the sugar and the coconut oil which won’t work very well if you have a liquidy coconut oil. Just pop in the fridge or freezer while you measure everything else and you should be good to go.
Lemon Coconut Poppy Seed Muffins
2 cups Flour (I used half All-Purpose and half Whole-Wheat flour just to make these a smidge healthier)
1 tablespoon Poppy Seeds
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Coconut Oil
1 cup Plain Yogurt
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Fill muffin cups with paper liners or grease them. In a small bowl, stir together flour, poppy seeds, salt, baking soda, and lemon zest. In large bowl, cream together sugar and Coconut Oil. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in yogurt, vanilla, and lemon juice until well blended. Add the flour mixture until moistened thoroughly. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 400 degrees for about 18-20 minutes.