Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lemon Ricotta Muffins

I recently finished reading Under the Tuscan Sun, a memoir by Frances Mayes about her decision to buy and restore a villa in the Tuscan countryside. The descriptions of the breathtaking Italian landscape, the town of Cortona in which she purchased the house, and the delicious meals she cooked throughout the book made me want to move to Italy immediately. At the very least, I want to visit and have my own Italian adventure!

Somewhat unrelated (but don't worry, this will come full circle shortly), I had the urge to bake something on this rainy night so I thought I would use up some ingredients in my fridge before they went to waste. I knew I had some ricotta left over from a pasta dish I made last week (lamb ragu - we'll definitely be coming back to that recipe soon) and a lemon I had already zested so I thought, why not make a baked good that combines these two lovely ingredients? I have made lemon ricotta cookies in the past so I decided to try a new recipe - muffins! The recipe that I found was for Tuscan lemon muffins so I couldn't turn it down after reading the book - see, we've made it all the way back around!

All I had to buy at the grocery store was another lemon to zest so this was a no brainer. The batter was easy to whip up and I used my ice cream scoop for the first time to ration out equal parts batter into my muffin tin. It made the process so much faster and produces uniformly shaped muffins - what more could a girl ask for? I couldn't get over how wonderfully lemon-y my kitchen smelled. If I closed my eyes, I could at least pretend I was standing in an open air kitchen overlooking an Italian valley!

As the muffins were nearing the end of their baking time, they weren't really browning at all. I was wondering what was going on (I didn't add the turbinado sugar on top), but my handy toothpick told me they were done so I decided to take them out so I wouldn't risk drying them out.

I'm so glad I did! I love the intense lemon flavor and the fluffiness from the use of ricotta. They are delicious piping hot, right out of the oven, and once they've cooled down with a cup of tea, chai tea for me tonight.

It had been awhile since I last baked so this was a perfect rainy summer evening baked good to make on a whim. If you love lemon and you like your muffins fluffy, this recipe is a winner. Enjoy!

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