I have never met a Greek who didn’t like lemon. Or maybe I have, and they were just too embarrassed to admit it. It’s probably for the best.
Greeks put lemon on just about everything they eat. It’s a good thing that there are a lot of lemon trees there. If a Greek has the space for a lemon tree, it’s a safe bet they have one growing of their own. Lemon is put on meats, vegetables, in soups and desserts. The bright citrus perks up the flavor of any food, and helps keep heavier foods from being weighed down.
I am in the category of “has their own lemon tree”. In fact, I have two. One is the sweeter hybrid Meyer, and the other is the more typical Eureka. My parents also have a tree. One would think that we would be swimming in lemon juice, and one would be right for thinking that. Don’t worry, though, we use it all up each year.
It should come as no surprise then that one of my favorite pastries is lemon muffins of almost any kind. However, too often muffins are made to be so sweet and heavy that they are really just cupcakes in disguise. I prefer something that I can grab for a quick breakfast or midday snack and not feel like I need to hit the gym for half a day to work it off. Okay, to be fair, I never feel like going to the gym, but you get the idea.
These are not those kinds of muffins. These are real muffins. The lemon flavor is front and center, the poppy seeds add a hint of nuttiness, and a liberal dose of Greek yogurt keeps them moist and adds a healthy protein punch. Yes, they are sweet, otherwise it would just be a lemony biscuit, but the amount of sugar isn’t overwhelming. Like I said, I don’t feel like going to the gym.
Some quick notes before you begin:
Greek yogurt can vary in thickness. This recipe was based on a yogurt with a consistency similar to sour cream. If you have a thicker consistency, you can thin it with milk as needed. If it is thinner, you can strain it until it is the proper thickness (see my instructions for homemade Greek yogurt here).
The amount of lemon juice by itself gives a good amount of flavor, but if you really want an extra kick of lemon you can add either a tsp. of lemon zest or or a 1/2 tsp. of lemon extract.
I’ve listed a range of sugar in the ingredients for you to adjust the amount of sweetness to your preference. Either amount will work well.
The pictures show a double recipe of the amounts listed below. You can bake two tins side by side, or on two racks placed near the middle of the oven and switch them half way through the baking time.
Lemony Poppy Seed & Greek Yogurt Muffins
- 2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt (edit: this was omitted from the recipe earlier)
- 2 tsp. poppy seeds
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 – 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup salted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 1 tsp. grated lemon zest or 1/2 tsp. lemon extract (optional)
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In a large bowl, put the flour, baking powder, and poppy seeds, and the salt (that I forgot to include earlier). Measure the flour by whisking it first then gently scooping it into a measuring cup and leveling it. Thoroughly mix everything together.
In another bowl, beat the eggs with a mixer until light yellow and foamy. Add the sugar and beat until the sugar is dissolved. Add in the butter and olive oil and beat again until the mixture is creamy. Mix in the lemon juice and lemon zest or extract, if using, then completely mix in the Greek yogurt.
Add the liquid mixture to the flour and gently mix in until completely combined. Don’t overwork the dough, but don’t leave behind clumps of flour.
Grease a 12 cup muffin tin. Spoon the batter evenly into each cup. Place the muffin tin into the oven on a rack set in the middle. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of one of the muffins comes out clean and the tops are turning golden brown.
Remove the muffins from the oven and allow to remain in the muffin pan for five minutes. Remove the muffins from the tin and allow to cool on a rack. Enjoy whenever you feel like it, but they will taste better if they are allowed to rest for a few hours giving all the flavors a chance to blend. Enjoy!