Learning lessons over a batch of lemon muffins

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The poppy seeds are mixed in the batter with these tasty muffins. Lisa Boykin Batts | Times
The poppy seeds are mixed in the batter with these tasty muffins. Lisa Boykin Batts | Times

When granddaughter Sora and I decided to do a few food columns together this summer, I knew right away I wanted her to choose the recipes we would make.

Part of the fun of cooking for me is looking through cookbooks and finding recipes that appeal to me — the ones that make my mouth water! I wanted that same experience for her.

Sora, who’s 9, made a list of recipes — complete with cookbook name and a page number — and decided the first recipe we’d make would be lemon tart poppy seed muffins.

I was surprised. I had no clue she would like lemon poppy seed muffins. In fact, I would think she’d turn up her nose at them because of the tiny black seeds. But that’s what she chose.

The recipe is from “Time For Kids: Kids in the Kitchen Cookbook,” which I have had on my cookbook shelf for several years.

As it turns out, I had every ingredient we needed to make these muffins, so we didn’t have to make a special trip to the store.

Sora helped me assemble the ingredients, and then we read through the recipe directions before getting started.

One of the first things she did was zest the lemon with a small grater. She did a great job zesting the tablespoon needed. I explained to her how the white part of the lemon would be bitter, and I told her to be careful not to grate her fingers!

As she measured all the ingredients, we talked about fractions, and I even threw in some multiplication, asking her how much flour we would need if we doubled the recipe, for instance.

I’m funny about raw eggs, always worrying I will contaminate something and make my family sick. It was only this past school year, when she was working on a science fair project, that I was able to loosen up enough to let her break the eggs herself. When she made the muffins, I didn’t flinch when it came time to break the egg. But I was quick to remind her to wash her hands immediately.

Sora followed the directions and mixed her batter with a spoon, then scooped it into the lined muffin pans. She used a cookie scoop to measure the batter and transfer to the muffin tins. The cookie scoop was a little bit of a challenge, but by the end, she was doing much better. Once she had finished, I showed her how to even up the batter in the cups, using a spoon or the scoop.

I placed the muffin pan in the hot oven for her and removed it once the muffins were baked, and we both cleaned up.

The muffins smelled so good as they baked. I love the smell of lemon and have always loved lemon baked goods. We both ate a muffin as soon as they were cool enough to handle and both loved them. Sora ate a second one while it was still warm!

Since Sora likes muffins, just like her grandma, I foresee more muffin experiments in our future.

Lemon Tart Poppy Seed Muffins

If you have a beginner cook in your house, I recommend this recipe.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powders

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon grated lemon rind (about 1 medium lemon)

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1 1/4 cups low-fat buttermilk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place a muffin liner in each cup of a 12-cup muffin tin.

Add flour to mixing bowl.

Add sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt; stir well with a whisk.

Measure and stir in lemon rind and poppy seeds. Make a well in the center of mixture.

In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, butter and egg; stir with a whisk to combine. Add to well to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan for 5 minutes on wire rack, then remove from pan. Place muffins directly on wire rack to cool completely.

“Time for Kids: Kids in the Kitchen Cookbook”