After writing about back-of-the-box recipes for some time, I find the grocery store an even more fascinating place than ever before. In addition to my regularly odd shopping habits (lingering in the cracker aisle to assess the new Cheez-It flavors, making friends with the cheesemonger, squeezing too many of the pears), I now compulsively check packages and jars for recipes. The guys at Fairway just love me.
Even when the recipe doesn’t look great, it can inspire. Case in point: the recipe for lemon rosemary muffins on the Bisquick package. The rosemary is dried and baking mix is required, but the flavor combination made me hungry.
I thought about what sort of muffin would best showcase bright, zesty lemon without overpowering the quietly sophisticated taste of rosemary and settled on an olive oil batter. Would it be too sweet?
Would it taste too much like a dense olive oil cake? (To be clear: That would not be a bad thing, but I was aiming for ethereal.) To lighten it up, I folded in some crème fraiche and whipped the eggs with sugar.
The muffins turned out better than I’d imagined. They have a subtle sweetness that’s reminiscent of a very good cornbread. The interior is airy with an exceptionally delicate crumb. You could eat them toasted for breakfast, with a smear of butter and a sprinkling of sea salt, or plain for an afternoon snack. You could top them with a dollop of lemon curd and whipped cream for dessert.
If you can’t find Meyer lemons, regular lemons will work nicely as well. The lemon extract is very optional, and I’ve tried adding a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to the batter (along with the olive oil and the lemon extract), which is not necessary but not a bad idea either.
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1/3 cup crème fraîche
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (optional)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons Meyer lemon zest (or regular lemon zest)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary