Tuesday, January 5, 2010

My first muffins. Lemon poppy-seed style.

lemon poppy seed muffins

I'm warming up to baking.

It's the process that gets to me, really -- nothing like cooking, with its olive oil and garlic sizzling and random ingredients tossed in at the last minute. All that makes sense to me, and when I'm cooking a meal, there's a sort of rhythm to everything I do, a familiar tune that I can hum along to, even though I may not always know all the lyrics.

lemon poppy seed muffins

Baking, on the other hand, is completely foreign. A song I've never sung, in a very different language, played on a crackly radio with a staticky signal. On Saturday, as I laid out the mixing bowls and fumbled over measurements for my very first batch of muffins, more than a few times I asked myself, "Am I doing this right?" "What does it mean to cream something?" and, surveying the flour and sugar that was quickly covering the counter top and floor, "Good God, what have I gotten myself into?"

lemon poppy seed muffins

It's another one of those "Practice makes Perfect" scenarios, and while sometimes I can really get into the practice part -- making omelets, for example, or learning a new camera -- other times I just want to get on with it already. Yeah, it's like that with baking. Can't I just be an expert already, and skip all the mistakes and failures and try-try-agains that come along the way?

No, I suppose not. Luckily, these muffins turned out pretty nice. And when I peeked in the oven and saw them rising like real muffins are supposed to rise, well, I squealed a little. A baker's squeal of excitement, if you will, and one that I'm not quite familiar with. But I'm very ready and willing to get used to it, and if that means I might sing off key every once in a while, well, so be it. Practice makes perfect, after all.

lemon poppy seed muffins

Because baking scares me, there was no adapting or tweaking or altering this recipe for lemon poppy seed muffins, found at Simply Recipes. I followed every step exactly as it was written. And they turned out fluffy and lemony and poppy-seedy. Even today, as I ate one at my desk for breakfast, the burst of little poppy seeds just made me happy.

Recipe here.

13 comments:

  1. I first started baking with muffins.. though soon gave it up for quickbreads (much easier in my opinion.)

    Sometimes I think there's baking brains and cooking brains, like when they taught us in school that there were Math and English brains.... maybe we're cooking brains.

    Though baking something that turns out good is so, so happy-making. :)

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  2. I absolutely loved this post! I find it so interesting that some people are more comfortable with cooking, and others baking.

    For me, it's baking. I love the process, the exactness that comes along with baking. Cooking frightens me just a little - I like to know if I mix the right amount of flour with the right amount of sugar, I'll have something delicious. Cooking seems to have so many more variables to me.

    It is fun to step out of your comfort zone though. I'm so happy you enjoyed your baking project! :)

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  3. Sniff sniff, I'm so proud. I love baking, though I don't always want to make the effort - it's a bit of a process to get the ingredients out and ready in my little kitchen. It's kind of a time commitment. But I do love it. Those muffins look delicious, and I might just have to make them!

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  4. Conquering apprehension in the kitchen is so empowering. Those who are really good cooks, who love the composition of ingredients and the way you can add a bit of this or that to make it wonderful can be swayed by the exact science of baking. I really love both, and muffins especially. I do think that they can benefit one another, when you can do both with ease. Being well-rounded is always beneficial in the kitchen!

    Lemon-poppyseed is one of my FAVORITE muffins!

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  5. I am SO proud of you, Jacqui. Proud and happy and, well, impressed. These muffins are gorgeous! If only everyone's first experience baking could be this beautiful!

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  6. Congrats on these fine muffins, Jacqui! I also find comfort in the song and dance of cooking. You're inspiring me to explore more baking opportunities though. If my endeavors are as successful as yours, then I’ll warm my hands against the challenge.

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  7. Lemon poppyseed - perfect choice for winter! You should bake more often, because it's quite a nice tune to hum to as you putter around the kitchen :)

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  8. wow! jacqui!!! your muffins are simply gorgeous. you did an amazing job.

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  9. robin - ummm...how does a quickbread work? this intrigues me. i'm definitely a cooking brain. and an english brain. too many exact formulas in both math and baking, i think. but at least with baking, there's a fun dessert in the end!

    hannah - oh, thank you! your baking and photography is an inspiration, always. and i'm hoping that one day i'll get to the point when i know what is supposed to happen rather than ask myself, "am i doing this right?"

    kim - thank you! i'm pretty proud of myself, too. i think a great thing about baking is sharing the final product. it'd be weird if i surprised a friend with leftover dinner, but a little bag of muffins is always welcome!

    kate - i so agree that baking and cooking can really benefit one another. i'd like to understand the science more, so one day i can put together a bunch of ingredients without a recipe and just know what will happen. and i'm SO glad i started off with lemon poppy seed. they might be my new favorite, too!

    shanna - you've been such an inspiration in my baking endeavors. thanks for cheering me on!

    jennifer - that makes me so happy! what are you thinking about baking? i like to think of baking as an adventure into the great unknown. and that even if i fail at some attempts, at least i tried.

    caitlin - i do like how i can take my time with baking, rather than rushing to just get the food on the table. never thought of it that way until you mentioned puttering around the kitchen!

    giao - thank you! next up: cake?

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  10. oh i love lemon poppyseed! It's one of my favorite combinations and I also get a sense of joy from biting into it. Funny enough, with all the baking I do, i've never made anything with them! I might need to fix that right away.these came out beautifully! Congrats on a great first muffin!

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  11. Muffins are so so addictive. Once you have cracked the basic batter that you prefer then the possibilities are literally endless! I bake a different type most weeks, and about half are bloggable and worth repeating.

    I love the muffin!

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  12. OK, so sorry for the super late responses, but here goes...

    Alejandra - Thank you! Lemon makes everything better. I should get that tattooed somewhere.

    Kristina - Thanks!

    Helen - Thank you for stopping by! I love the simplicity of muffins -- so basic and versatile and delicious.

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