26 April 2011

Tuscan Lemon Muffins for a Spring Pick Me Up

Tuscan Lemon Muffins
If dreary Spring weather is getting you down, lift your spirits by adding bright, zesty lemons to your every day cooking. Today I've featured this recipe from Cooking Light magazine for some aromatic muffins that include a splash of sunshine with every bite.  A name like Tuscan Lemon Muffins could not be more fitting for a Spring pick me up!

When I think of Tuscany I think of golden yellow? It always reminds me of  the movie "Under The Tuscan Sun." The movie had plenty of images of Tuscan villas bathed in golden yellow sunlight. Imagine walking amongst rolling hills lined with cypress tree soldiers, surrounded by ancient vineyards, olive and lemon trees with nothing but the sounds of  birds singing to interrupt your dreaming.

In Italy, limoni are everywhere from handpainted ceramics to lemons at the fruit stand the size of baseballs. Around here lemons are as popular and widely used as simple spices like salt and pepper. I have embraced lemon juice and zest as a cornerstone in my love for Mediterranean cuisine. A little lemon goes a long way!!! Besides being a fundamental ingredient in seafood dishes in Italy, lemon is one of the most popular sweet treat flavours as well with its place right alongside almond, hazelnut and chocolate. From the nationally celebrated beverage Limoncello to its tart, citrusy flavour featured in biscotti, cakes and gelato lemon is celebrated this season.

The brightly coloured outer layer of citrus fruit, the zest, contains scented essential oils that impart a handsome flavour to dishes. When a recipe calls for strips of zest, a vegetable peeler works very well. But for fluffy, grated zest, try using my favourite kitchen gadget a micro plane zester. Years ago I remember watching an episode of Martha Stewart where she used a woodworkers microplane to zest her lemons. I am sure this is where the idea came from to create a microplane for cooking. Best invention yet!

When juicing your citrus to extract the maximum juice, either roll your citrus fruit around on a flat work surface, pressing down firmly with the palm of your hand, or warm through gently by dropping into a pan of hot water, popping into the microwave for a few seconds, or even placing in a warm oven for a minute or two. I use the microwave method myself and there is never a drop of juice wasted.

Sit down for a leisurely breakfast with one of these zesty ricotta muffins, dream of Tuscany and let the world go by.

**Tuscan Lemon Muffins** 
Maureen Callahan, Cooking Light

7 9/10 ounces all-purpose flour (1 3/4 cups)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 375°.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients (through salt); make a well in center. Combine ricotta and next 5 ingredients (through egg). Add ricotta mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

Place 12 muffin-cup liners in muffin cups; coat with cooking spray. Divide batter among muffin cups. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over batter. Bake at 375° for 16 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in pan on a wire rack.

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. why yes this dreary weather is getting me way down. nothing but rain or clouds lately.
    isn't lemon the best though? these look super good!

  2. Am I the first one to comment on these muffins! You got me at Tuscan Lemon, I'm so making these!

  3. I love that kind of muffin! Ricotta gives them such a lovely texture and lemon is just heavenly.



  4. Love anything made with lemons - these looks so fresh, spring-like and delicious!

  5. These look perfect. Val. And I love my microplane zester too!

  6. Toronto is going to float away, we've had so much rain lately. A very wet April and colder than usual. These muffins are just the thing to lift our spirits. Light, fresh and they definitely say SPRING (even if the weather doesn't).

  7. What gems, Val! The ricotta would make them so moist and the lemon always reminds me of summer!
    Agree the microplane is a GREAT invention...I use it for everything.

  8. Lovely! I could use one of these to brighten up another rainy morning!!


  9. I love the bright flavor of these muffins. They really are a perfect way to start the day or make an ordinary tea special. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  10. Look delicious Vall and beauty! Love with lemon! x gloria

  11. The lemon and ricotta together sound fantastic in these! Now, I'm going to spend the day dreaming of Tuscany.

  12. Lemons = spring. These are perfect spring muffins. Love the muffin papers, too!

  13. You might be right Val...it's so dreary in New York...today passable, but what is also killing me is the price of lemos. My store wanted 99 cents for one...

    Lovely cuppycakes!

  14. Yum. Those muffins must be super-moist with the ricotta baked in the batter. I love lemon desserts. I know I'm mostly a chocolate fiend, but sometimes nothing hits the spot quite like a lemon cake or lemon bar. Maybe it's the dreams of Italy talking. This is the second blog I have read today that talks about ITaly. I'm hoping it's a sign that Sir Pickypants really does intend to take me there this year.

  15. I've been dying for a good lemon ricotta pancake. These might be the perfect substitute.

  16. Under the Tuscan Sun is the first thing I thought of when you said Tuscan muffins as well! These look like they taste so bright and happy!

  17. Just read that this is the coolest spring in 15 years here so I'd love some Tuscan sunshine! These do sound delicious and anything with lemon always cheers me up.

  18. tuscany is always depicted so beautifully in films--one day i hope to see it in person! lovely burst of refreshment, these muffins. :)

  19. Sounds like a great recipe...moist with the ricotta and fragrant with the lemon.

  20. The name alone makes me want to eat them, Val. :-) They sound sunny! :-)

  21. Aaaahhhh Tuscany...how I adore the... AND these fabulous muffins. They are so sunny and bright and definitely bring a smile to my face. Delicious, Val!

  22. Love those plump and gorgeous bakes, Val! Glad to find this lovely space..thanks to the Food event page I created on FB and your comment there :)
    Shall hop over again and have a virtual feast at your blog.

  23. Val, these sound fabulous. It has been a dreary spring indeed. I so love to have muffins and scones and such for breakfast or brunch.

  24. This is the time of year when I crave lemon! Those muffins look so delicious and perfect for my craving right now!

  25. It's definitely just the thing to lift our spirits on a dreary day! I would love one! And I'd love to see Tuscany too! I'm sitting here dreaming...maybe one day! :)


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