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Lemon and Candied Ginger Muffins

While we were at BlogHer, Elise told me a story of some semi-disastrous lemon muffins that she had recently tried to make from a recipe given to her by a friend. What precisely caused the muffins to fail was a mystery, since the friend who supplied the recipe later had the same difficulty, despite the fact that she had succeeded with the muffins in the past.
It was with those muffins in mind that I put together this recipe for Lemon and Candied Ginger Muffins, though you can rest-assured that my recipe is completely unlike the unsuccessful one I just mentioned.

These muffins, instead of being made with lemon juice, are only kissed with lemon through the use of lemon zest in the batter. The lemon flavor is boosted by adding an easy lemon glaze after baking. The glaze is added when the muffins are still slightly warm so that it almost melts into the top of the muffin.

The muffins themselves are very light and tender, in large part because I creamed the butter and sugar together, as I might do for a cupcake. These aren’t sweet enough to be mistaken for cake, but at the same time, they don’t fall into that trap of not having enough sugar in them, as some muffins do. They have an excellent balance overall and can be eaten plain, with a cup or tea or coffee, as well as with a bit of butter at breakfast.

The candied ginger boosts the sweetness of the muffins and provides a little crunch every time you encounter an unusually sugary piece. I actually use the crystallised ginger chips (pre-cut candied ginger) from the Ginger People, which have a higher sugar-to-ginger ration than most, but still carry across a lot of ginger taste, especially if you eat them more than a few at a time.

Lemon and Candied Ginger Muffins
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, soft
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon (about 1 tbsp zest)
3/4 cup milk (low fat is ok)
1/2 cup candied ginger, in small pieces

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the lemon zest and vanilla extract.
Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk to the butter/sugar mix, working in two or three additions and beating at a low speed (or by hand) only until just combined. Stir in candied ginger.
Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups and bake for about 15 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the top of the muffin springs back when lightly pressed.
Cool on a wire rack, drizzling with lemon glaze (below) while muffins are still slightly warm.

Lemon Glaze
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup confectioners sugar

In a small bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar with enough lemon juice to make a glaze that will drizzle easily from the tines of a fork. You don’t have to be exact, and can always add either a bit more juice or a bit more sugar to achieve a good consistency.
Drizzle a little glaze over each muffin and let dry for at least a few minutes before serving.

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  • The Cookbook Junkie
    August 1, 2006

    I’ve never found that adding lemon juice to recipes (for cakes or cookies) adds much lemon flavor anyway. I think you need the zest to get the true lemon flavor (in the batter or dough).

    I don’t think I’ve ever tried candied ginger. I ordered a bunch of (hard) ginger candies when I was pregnant, in case I had morning sickness. I didn’t really and my husband ended up eating most of the candy but it was really good, with heat like a cinnamon candy. Does candied ginger have that ‘heat’?

  • Nic
    August 1, 2006

    Yes, it has heat like most ginger flavored things, but it is tempered by the fact that it is candied, or coated in sugar.

  • Molly
    August 1, 2006

    What a lovely combination of flavors, Nic! I just love lemon and ginger (candied, especially) together. My sister makes a lemon-ginger scone that’s delicious, but a muffin might be even better…

  • shuna fish lydon
    August 1, 2006

    I used to make these muffins all the time. They are tried and true indeed, and also do well as a quick bread in leetle loaf panettes.

    it was great to meet you! perhaps next year we will grace Blogher with some edible baked goods together!

  • UnGourmetGal
    August 1, 2006

    One of my favorite dessert flavors is lemon. Though striking the balance between tart and sweet can be difficult to find. I agree with cookbook junkie that the zest really gives you a true lemon taste, and the ginger sounds like a great combo that I must try.

  • Julie
    August 2, 2006

    Your muffins sound delicious, but what really caught my eye are how high you got your muffin tops to rise. How exactly do you get such great tops?

  • Kalyn
    August 3, 2006

    Hi Nicole,
    I just subscribed to the feed from your blog and look forward to seeing all the yummy stuff you’re baking.

  • Julia
    August 3, 2006

    What a lovely muffins! For a moment I thought I had a dejavu; just before I came on your blog, I saw Elise’s post (with fresh ginger!) Yours look also very tasty.
    I’ve never had candied ginger (I don’t even know for sure we have it in Holland…) but I will certainly start looking for it…

  • Anonymous
    August 3, 2006

    As owner of the Fish Creek House Bed and Breakfast in Montana, we’re always on the look out for new muffin recipes… Love to try ’em out on the guests who love them. Thanks!

  • Lori
    August 14, 2006

    Candied ginger is something I’ve fallen in love with just this year, and now I can’t get enough. Lemon seems like a tempting accompaniment with ginger. Beautiful, Nic!

  • Pudding
    August 17, 2006

    Finally got around to making these… they’re delicious! I omitted the ginger since I don’t like the way it tastes, but they turned out fine without it. The glaze really adds the perfect finishing tart-sweet taste. Thank you for the wonderful recipe!

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