Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

By Leah Brooks | December 18, 2015
These muffins, sunny and bright from the lemon juice and zest, are a perfect way to start off your morning. The tiny poppy seeds, which lend a pretty flecked look and texture to the muffin, add a delightful slight crunch to each bite.


⅔ cup (132 g) cane sugar
zest and juice of 1 medium lemon
1 cup (120 g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (60 g) white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup (180 ml) buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 stick (. cup, or 112 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons (12 g) poppy seeds

For Lemon Sugar Topping:
2 tablespoons (24 g) cane sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Tools needed
measuring cups and spoons
liquid measuring cup
large bowl
medium bowl
2 small bowls
microplane zester
citrus juicer
standard-size 12-cup muffin tin
muffin liners
wooden spoon or spatula


1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C, or gas mark 6). Fill the muffin tin with paper liners. Children like to help out with this step, just be sure to show them how to separate the papers to avoid wasting them!

2. Zest the lemon over a small bowl using a microplane. Then, juice the lemons with a citrus juicer over another small bowl so that you can pick out any seeds that end up on in the juice. Children can easily help with this step. If half of a lemon is too difficult for your children to juice, try cutting it into quarters.

3. In a medium bowl, rub the sugar with the lemon zest until the sugar is yellow and scented with lemon. 

for smaller hands
Step 3 is aromatic and it’s magical the way the lemon zest turns the sugar yellow! Use your fingertips to release the lemon oils from the zest by pinching the sugar and lemon zest together. 

4. Whisk the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the sugar and lemon zest mixture.
In a separate large bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, melted butter, and lemon juice.

for smaller hands
For many baking recipes, the dry ingredients are kept separate from the wet ingredients until the very end. This is an important step because you do not what to overmix the flour once liquid has been added, or your baked goods may become tough. This recipe is unique in that you add the sugar directly to the flour mixture. ~

5. Stir half of the flour mixture into the buttermilk mixture. Mix until just combined. Pour the remaining dry ingredients into the batter and mix just until the flour is no longer visible. Gently fold in the poppy seeds, taking care not to overmix.

6. For the lemon sugar topping, as in step 3, rub the sugar with the lemon zest until the sugar is yellow and fragrant.

for smaller hands
Fill one muffin cup three-quarters full for children to use as a guide when filling the muffin cups themselves. You can always scoop out a little from each muffin cup if some are filled more than others. ~

7. Fill the muffin cups about three-fourths full.  Sprinkle each muffin with the lemon sugar.

8. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. The muffins are done when the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

9. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes, and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Excerpted from Baking with Kids by Leah Brooks. Quarry Books, 2015.

  • poppy seed muffins