It’s coming up on us again, that one day dedicated to the women who brought us into this world: Mother’s Day. Although I’m adopted, my mom and I are like two peas in a pod—we think alike, laugh at the same stuff, carry ourselves similarly and even talk alike (although I saw wash instead of warsh and Washington instead of Warshington—sorry, had to do it, Ma!).
Like many of you, I’m sure, I wouldn’t be the same person if my mom hadn’t raised me, and I thank my lucky stars that my birth mother picked her and my dad to be my parents. If there’s one thing I did get from my birth mother, it’s good taste, because she can really pick ‘em! She really couldn’t have chosen a better woman to raise me than my lovely redheaded mother. And although we have arguments and spats and ideological standoffs, our loyalty is always, unconditionally, to each other.
And so, for this upcoming Mother’s Day, I’d like to share with you a recipe I know my mother, or your mother, would love. Sadly, I won’t be with my mother this Mother’s Day because she’s going to be globetrotting around Europe with my sister, Annie, (I’m really trying not to use a certain expletive here—I’m so frickin’ jealous!) but these Almond-Poppy Seed muffins will remind me of her when she’s 5,000 miles away, just like the super-cute towel she got me last year that reads, “Home is Where Your Mom is.” I almost bawled when I opened up the mail package and found it. That simple phrase is so true, isn’t it? Hearing my ma’s voice is always a refuge, and I know whenever we’re together, everything is going to be all right.
Mom always loved poppy seeds, especially poppy seed muffins and cakes, so I often made them for her when I was girl. This is a grown-up version of those cakes because I actually make my own batter instead of modifying a box mix like I did when I was younger. I used almond extract instead of the traditional lemon extract to come up with an Almond-Poppy Seed Muffin, and I was really pleased with the taste.
Unlike traditional muffin batters, this one starts with creaming together the butter and sugar, know in culinary school as “the creaming method,” rather than adding that fat to the batter with the other wet ingredients as you would in the traditional “muffin method” for mixing muffins. The end result is a more cake-like muffin with a fine, tender crumb. Believe me, the one extra step is so worth it when you see the final product.
I actually made this recipe as homework for my baking class at culinary school. Since baking in culinary school is all done on a digital scale for precision, this recipe lists ingredients in ounces instead of cups. If you really want to change it to cups, you can simply look the conversion up on the Internet. However, if you do any baking at all, I highly suggest getting a digital scale; it really makes a difference. Happy Mother’s Day!
Almond-Poppy Seed Muffins
This recipe is adapted from the one that appears in the 5th edition of Wayne Glisslen’s Professional Baking, the standard-issue baking textbook at Kendall College. Since baking in culinary school is all done on a digital scale for precision, this recipe lists ingredients in ounces instead of cups. If you do any baking at all, I highly suggest getting a digital scale; it really makes a difference. You can substitute lemon extract for almond extract to make Lemon-Poppy Seed Muffins. This recipe makes somewhere between 12 to 16 muffins. Click here to download a printable PDF copy of this recipe.
7 oz. butter
9 oz. sugar
6 oz. eggs (about 4 large eggs)
12 oz. cake or pastry flour
¾ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
.5 oz. poppy seeds
½ tsp. almond extract
1 c. (8 oz.) buttermilk
Cream the butter. Preheat oven to 375˚F. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-low speed. When the butter is light, fluffy and well combined, add the eggs one at a time, beating until combined before adding the next one.
Prepare wet and dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and poppy seeds. In another small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the almond extract and buttermilk.
Make batter and bake. Add one-third of the flour mixture and one-third of buttermilk mixture to the butter mixture. Beat on medium-low speed to combine. Repeat two more times with the remaining flour and buttermilk, beating after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. When everything is fully incorporated, line a muffin tin with baking cups and spoon the batter about two-thirds of the way up the baking cups. Bake the muffins in the middle of a preheated oven until the tops are lightly brown and the top of the muffin springs back when you touch it, about 30 minutes. Cool the muffins on a wire rack.