What's the point of a poppyseed? It's practically microscopic and virtually taste-less. Maybe I should use chia seeds instead...?
No, stick with the poppyseed. My inner-muffin lover convinced me that the poppyseed - purpose to-be-determined at the time - must have held something to it. Lemon poppyseed muffins are just a thing that bakers always have and always will have on the shelf. I wouldn't feel right allowing the omega-3-wealthy chia seed to barge on in and try to steal the show.
This short-lived internal baking battle is an exact reflection of my feelings and opinions towards food/cooking lately. Since I first tapped into this passion of mine, I analyzed every single recipe and crossed off ingredients like butter and sugar immediately - I did NOT want those in my body, so I searched tirelessly for substitutions that boasted more nutritional benefits.
You can't see me, but I'm rolling my eyes at myself right now.
Then, I went vegan. If you knew me, you probably would've thought, "Can things get any worse?" Ohhhhhhh yes. They sure can! Essentially, I broke-up with my love for baking and cooking and turned in another direction, seeking the high-carb, low-fat lifestyle. Now, let me just say that you can most certainly find that (I'm starting to hate this word, but I can't think of a replacement) balance between a healthy vegan lifestyle and a love for baking. Have you ever met Natalie, from Feasting on Fruit? She amazes me. UHHHHH-mazing.
Anyway, I basically jumped over the "balance bridge" that stood between my long-lived passion and my newfound obsession, leaving behind my measuring spoons and my apron to make room for YouTube videos and billions of bananas. Again, eye-rolling like a mad-man over here. When I did give into my craving for baking, I eliminated oils and refined flours and sugars and gluten and every possible ounce of fat (and consequently, flavor).
Needless to say, I got lost. So lost. So, so, so lost. Thankfully, God saw that and faithfully kept His promise to the undeserving sinner that I am, picked me up on that newfound-obsession-side, and placed me oh-so-gracefully on the "balance bridge". Here, I use whole-wheat flour (instead of oat flour), vegan butter (instead of coconut oil or none at all), and poppy seeds (instead of chia seeds).
What I've learned in my amateur baking career (can I call it that?) is that every ingredient serves a purpose - structure, texture, flavor, color. While some ingredients may be replaceable by coconut oil or chia seeds or oat flour, chances are, that replacement will alter one of those elements of purpose. Oh, and I forgot one purpose - JUST BECAUSE.
- vegan butter - just because of the slight saltiness and the rich, creaminess.
- whole-wheat flour - just because of the fluffiness it yields that oat flour can, most certainly, NOT.
- poppy seeds - just because that's what the first great bakers did and it worked and its yummy and chia seeds just don't belong here, dammit.
I have nothing against chia seeds. This morning, I ate two of these muffins slathered with vegan butter + sliced banana topped with chia seeds. My car's name is Chia. I LOVE chia seeds! They, like everyone and everything else, have their time and place, and so is not in a lemon poppy seed muffin.
You know, I've written quite a few argumentative essays in my fifteen years as a student, yet I've never thought to argue on a topic such as this. I'd say its worthy of a paper, eh? To any students reading this, I may have just given you your next A+ paper. You're welcome. Now, go pop a batch of these in the oven. Slather one - actually, slather TWO - with vegan butter, make some coffee or tea (whichever you fancy), and get to writing!
Makes about 12 muffins
2 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour (see note)
2 tbsp. poppy seeds
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
2 flax eggs
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2-3 tbsp. lemon zest
1 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil or vegan butter, melted (plus extra, optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400F and coat a muffin pan with melted oil or butter or cupcake liners.
- Begin by combining the dry ingredients - flour through the salt - in a large mixing bowl, stirring to combine. Set aside.
- In a smaller bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients - the flax eggs through the oil/butter - until combined. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir to combine. You can also use a stand-mixer here, but don't mix too much. Be sure to leave a few lumps in the batter.
- Pour the batter into the muffin tins, about 3/4-full. Sprinkle lightly with a touch of sea salt and bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick poked in the middle of a muffin comes out sparkly clean.
- Let them cool slightly before removing from the oven and then serve with vegan butter (highly recommended). Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to one week.
Note: I tried using oat flour in this recipe to make a gluten-free version, but the muffins came out practically flat. Whole-wheat flour yielded a lighter, fluffier texture. I haven't tried using a pre-made GF flour, but if you do decide to do so, I recommend using this recipe or this store-bought mix.