Have you ever baked something that smelled so good you'd literally count the minutes until it was out of the oven? Then you'd quickly pass it from one hand to the other not to burn your fingers and blow into it to cool it down faster so you can finally take a bite? These citrus muffins are that good!
They're incredibly light and fluffy- I'm referring to them as muffins because of their size, but the texture is rather that of a cupcake. The intense flavour and melt-in-the-mouth texture make for an extraordinary eating experience. There is also another reason why they are so special to me: this was the first vegan recipe I made. It is in fact a lemon cake which I turned into muffins.
The original recipe uses lemon juice and water and is equally great. I adapted it by replacing water with orange juice to intensify the flavour and by cutting down on sugar, since oranges have plenty of it. Whether you eat them warm or cold, plain or frosted, I'm sure you're going to enjoy every bite.
This recipe makes 9 muffins.
- 1 1/2 cups organic plain white flour
- 1/2 cup organic unrefined caster sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 large lemon - juice and zest (finely grated, use only the thin, shiny, yellow layer)
- 3-4 oranges - juice from all and zest only from one (as above)
- 6 Tb sunflower oil
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Sift the flour and baking soda in a bowl, add the sugar and mix well.
- Pour the lemon juice in a cup (1 cup = 250 ml) and add enough orange juice to fill it. Note: Use a manual juicer to extract the lemon and orange juice and keep the pulp as well, it tastes wonderful in the muffins.
- Add the lemon and orange zest to the flour mix and combine.
- Add the juice to the dry ingredients and mix gently using a whisk or a fork.
- Add oil, vanilla and vinegar and mix till incorporated. Note: Make sure not to overmix. Baking soda reacts with citric acid and vinegar instantly creating air bubbles that give these muffins their beautiful airy texture. Vinegar might seem useless here, however, apart from helping with the texture, it also adds a kind of velvety feel to it. If you've used vinegar as hair conditioner you know what I'm talking about. And don't worry about the taste, apple cider vinegar has a mild fruity flavour and it's rather sweet. Even if you use white wine vinegar, by the time the muffins are ready it will have evaporated and you won't taste it.
- Using a piece of paper towel, very lightly grease the cups with sunflower oil. Place one paper case in each cup. Divide the batter equally between the cups and bake for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Note: The baking time varies according to the ingredients you use and the type of oven you have. Keep an eye on the muffins, as they will rise very quickly. Once they stop rising and the top turns dry and shiny, you're just a few minutes away. After 15 minutes you should be able to check and see if they need more time. They are so delicate, that even 5 minutes more will turn them dry inside. You want to keep them moist, light coloured and fluffy.
- Remove the tray from the oven and let it sit on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes. This step will create some steam inside the cups and the paper will come off easily. These muffins are best eaten as soon as they're warm or completely cool, so this step is important (if you don't plan to eat them straight away, you may skip the greasing the cups step; in a few hours the moisture will soften the paper enough to remove it easily). Carefully transfer the muffins to a plate and let them cool.
My two favourite toppings for them are chocolate ganache and orange drizzle. For the chocolate ganache, simply melt some chocolate along with milk and powdered sugar/agave/maple syrup. For the orange drizzle: wash and pat dry 2 oranges; using a potato peeler, cut thin strips of orange zest (only the orange part), add some sugar and the juice from the 2 oranges and simmer in a small pot on low heat until reduced. Let cool and top the muffins with it. Let them soak up the juice for extra flavour.
Enjoy and spread the magic!:)
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