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My five year old does not like cup cakes. Her friends consider her “weird”. Chances are they have never encountered another person who does not get excited seeing the fluorescent colors and the Nick Jr. themed toppings . Birthdays are for cakes and cupcakes, but my little one stresses out before going for a party because she will have to have a cupcake with icing on it. She also does not want to offend the friend by saying no to a cake. While the other kids are licking off the icing from gorgeously decorated cupcakes in a party, she sits with a sullen face waiting for the icing to be wiped off clean.
However, I do feel good (and a little proud too) when she announces with a child’s honesty that she likes “mama’s cakes are the best”. Mama could be the most inexperienced baker, but my baby sees it quite differently. Mama listens to her and does not use any icing or frosting. The farthest she will go with an icing is a light citrus drizzle or a thin drippy chocolate ganache. I have to say that her tastes are more like grown ups.
A few days back while we were spending some time together, she asked me if I could make some muffins for breakfast and “with lots of nuts” and “no chocolate”. Considering the fact that muffins are “Ugly Cupcakes” – plain, brown and with no decorations, they are perfect bite sizes for her, just the way my baby likes it. She shares my obsession with the citrus flavor and readily agreed when I asked she wants anything with nuts and oranges. So here is the muffin inspired by my little one. We actually baked them right away.
On a quite different note, it just happened to dawn on me that this blog has become my journal. I do not keep a formal journal and I always wished I did. This recipe probably would have been repeated time after, but if I did not write down how this little thing inspired me to bake this today, maybe a year later it would have been all forgotten! This space has become such an important part of my life and for my family too. Some day, when my kids are all grown, they will flip over the pages of the memories and might share a laugh or a moment to ponder about.
This is a fairly easy recipe and perfect to bake with the kids. The ingredients are not too many and they really enjoy measuring and the minimal mixing that it requires. My daughter’s favorite part was placing the almonds on the batter filled cups. She did it very carefully making sure it was right in the center and exclaimed that the whole nuts make the muffins really “pretty”.
I have used Olive oil here, but any oil you prefer to bake with will do. The orange may be substituted with any kind of citrus flavor/zest and juice. I have used almond meal along with some flour, which may be substituted with all all purpose flour too. I ran out of the regular black poppy seeds used for baking, so I used the white one. They have the same crunch, but they don’t show up looking pretty once baked.
I have to mention here that the texture of these muffins are not smooth. Because of the use of the nut flour, the coarse nuts and the poppy seeds, they are a moist but a tiny bit crumbly. We really like the wholesome feel of these muffins.
Orange Scented Almond Poppy Seed Muffins
Ingredients: (makes 20-22 mini muffins)
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup almond meal
- 1/4 cup coarsely ground/finely chopped/slivered almonds
- zest of one medium orange
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg (or any spice you prefer)
- 4 teaspoons poppy seeds
- a pinch of salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2-3 tablespoons milk
- 1/3 cup olive oil (or any other oil)
- 1/2 teaspoon pure almond/orange extract or 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
Some whole almonds or slivered ones to top the muffins.
Whisk together the wet ingredients: the egg, milk, juice, oil and almond/orange extract or blossom water.
In another bowl, combine all purpose flour and orange zest. Rub the zest into to the flour with your finger tips. Combine the rest of the dry ingredients: almond meal, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, salt and chopped/slivered/coarsely almonds.
Mix the wet and the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon. The mix will be thick and sticky – not runny.
Spoon batter into lined muffin cups – each 3/4 filled. Place one whole almond (or sprinkle a few slivered ones) over each batter filled muffin cup.
Bake at 375 F for about 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and the top of the muffin is golden brown.
Cool muffins for 7-10 minutes.
Enjoy these tiny nutty zesty muffins for breakfast or any time snack. They are fluffy and light, but with a wholesome nutty bite. And did I tell you before that we LOVE using orange and the zest in out food? The citrus flavor makes everything so much more refreshing.