Make Ahead

Marion Cunningham’s Bridge Creek Fresh Ginger Muffins

September 20, 2016
4 Ratings
Photo by Alpha Smoot
  • Makes 16 muffins
Author Notes

You can use whatever tool you prefer—Cunningham suggests a food processor or a knife; a Microplane would work well, too. All make quick work, though it’s helpful to remember that the finer the grind, the stronger the flavors will be. Note: The Breakfast Book version called for a temperature of 350, but in subsequent versions she increased to 375, so that's what I used here. Adapted slightly from The Breakfast Book (Knopf, 1987). —Genius Recipes

What You'll Need
  • A 2-ounce piece unpeeled gingerroot
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest (from 2 lemons), with some white pith
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  1. Heat the oven to 375°F. Grease the muffin tins.
  2. Cut the unpeeled ginger into large chunks. If you have a food processor, process the ginger until it is in tiny pieces, or hand chop into fine pieces. (You should have ¼ cup. It is better to have too much ginger than too little.) Put the ginger and ¼ cup sugar in a small skillet or pan and cook over medium heat until the sugar has melted and the mixture is hot. Don’t walk away from the pan—this cooking takes only a couple of minutes. Remove from the stove and let the ginger mixture cool.
  3. Put the lemon zest and 3 tablespoons sugar in the food processor and process until the lemon peel is in small bits; or chop the lemon zest and pith by hand and then add the sugar. Add the lemon mixture to the ginger mixture. Stir and set aside.
  4. Put the butter in a mixing bowl and beat a second or two, add the remaining ½ cup sugar, and beat until smooth. Add the eggs and beat well. Add the buttermilk and mix until blended. Add the flour, salt and baking soda. Beat until smooth. Add the ginger-lemon mixture and mix well.
  5. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins so that each cup is three-quarters full. Bake 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Rachel Becker Wilson
    Rachel Becker Wilson
  • Angela Dahl
    Angela Dahl
  • JOEY
  • Marisa
  • Kristen Pierce
    Kristen Pierce
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

26 Reviews

bonnie R. June 15, 2021
I made 1/2 the recipe. As the muffins were baking I was annotating the printed recipe to reflect the changes. It was only then that I realized I had not halved the butter; i used a whole stick! Unbelievably, they are delicious and moist (wonder why!). At least now they don't need a pat of butter on them before eating. Can't wait to try them the way they are supposed to be made.
Terry August 3, 2020
I want to substitute candied ginger for the ginger + syrup. Any ideas on how much sugar, lemon should be in the base or if extra liquid is needed?
Ash July 14, 2019
Made these yesterday. I followed some recommendations from other comments and the results were outstanding. I doubled up on the ginger mixing it with 1/3 cup sugar instead of 1/4. I also zested 3 lemons instead of 2. Did not have buttermilk on hand so I used whole milk instead. Added one teaspoon of vanilla extract as well. Made 12 muffins bc I have a 12 muffin pan. They came out perfect and moist and not too sweet which is perfect for a muffin. Baked for exactly 18 mins at 375 degrees.
Rachel B. October 4, 2018
I subbed orange for lemon and multiplied by 7. Best ever for the seniors I cook for
judy August 21, 2018
I keep ginger in the freezer. Freezes beautifully, then grates really easily on a fine grater. The skin and excess fiber separates naturally, and I then have wonderful ginger for recipes. Very fine. If I want chunks as well, then I chop. Can't wait to try this recipe.
Angela D. September 23, 2017
Just made these with about ⅔ cup of ginger, 3 lemons plus ~1 tbsp juice, and ½ tsp vanilla extract (following other commenters' advice) – they turned out perfectly. The ginger and lemon aren't hit-you-over-the-head strong, but just enough for the muffins to be bright and zesty. This will definitely become a regular!
BakerMary May 19, 2017
I have made this my base muffin recipe by dropping the lemon/ginger and adding a cinnamon streusel topping. Makes a great base for awesome blueberry, raspberry, or whatever muffins. Granted, the blueberries rock when added to the lemon-ginger muffins but sometimes I just gotta have me some streusel.
Jennifer February 12, 2017
Made these last night with a few tweaks. I used a ceramic grater for ginger so I had a lot of liquid & it was probably more like half a cup. I also made my own vanilla sugar & lemon sugar & split the difference. I also used coconut oil instead of butter. I'm telling you they were outstanding & I think it was the coconut oil. I don't think that is too much tweaking & they were a hit. Not sure why so many found them bland, but I'm making them again tonight.
JOEY February 7, 2017
Vanilla extract can be as critical a flavor enhancer to baked sweets as salt and sugar. I added a scant teaspoon to the batter, with heaping measures of the lemon zest and ginger. The muffins were outstanding and I'm sure I'd have been disappointed in the result without the added vanilla. Ginger and lemon were still the star flavors.
Cheryl S. January 26, 2017
Evan December 18, 2016
I started out will full intention of following the recipe, but ended up riffing a lot and got a great result. I bought enough ginger for one batch but after reading the comments more thoroughly I realized it wouldn't be enough. I love ginger and wanted a strongly flavored muffin, so I ended up dividing the rest of the recipe in half but keeping the amount of fresh ginger and adding 1/2 tsp of ground ginger as well. Some flavor subs: my lemons were too hard to zest, so I used orange peel instead which worked great. I don't really like sweet muffins so I reduced the sugar to a scant 1/4 cup brown sugar and found the balance to be perfect. Also used kefir instead of buttermilk and swapped 1 tbsp irish whiskey for one tbsp kefir. I added black sesame seeds to the top of half the batch as an experiment; I found the ones without it browned better on top and the ones that had it benefited more from the added visual interest than any flavor they provided, but I think I'm fond of them anyway. These required about five minutes extra bake time, also, perhaps due to the extra liquid from the ginger and the reduced sugar. SO: did I make this recipe? only....kind of. But it turned out great and if you want a strongly flavored, not-so-sweet, gingery muffin with an extra kick I can vouch for them.
BakerRB December 16, 2016
I agree with half the comments: surprisingly bland considering how much good stuff seems to be going in. The ginger/lemon mix was strong, but little flavor in the end product. Reminiscent of soap, actually, while warm. The modifications people made sound good, so perhaps I'll try again.
Shannon October 24, 2016
I've made these twice now. The first time I followed the recipe exactly. That resulted in a fairly bland muffin, but also a good starting point. The second time a bumped up the amount of ginger and lemon zest and added blueberries. They were delicious.
Marisa October 21, 2016
I made these today and am disappointed. I used a full cup of ginger and doubled the lemon zest and they are still bland.
Kristen P. September 29, 2016
Oh wow, what a great recipe! I altered it to make ginger pear muffins: added 25% more minced ginger based on comments, diced a pear and tossed the pieces in a couple tablespoons of flour with dashes of ginger powder and cardamom. I gently folded in the pear after the ginger/lemon/sugar mixture. The result is truly amazing: the pear chunks dissolve on your tongue, the muffin is soft and light, and there is a pleasant ginger aftertaste. The tops are very pale, btw, which makes them look raw when they're full baked. I may try a topping of chopped pistachios next time I bake these.
Ovina M. September 27, 2016
Added a more ginger, grated on microplaner. Grated lemon zest on microplaner as well. Cheated a bit by adding 1\2 tsp ginger extract. And stirred in some currents, soaked in Grand Marnier, left over from making scones.
Urmee September 27, 2016
can i use olive oil instead of butter for these?
Gretel September 26, 2016
I made these and used extra ginger and although they looked beautiful and moist they were very,very bland and no one ate them. Boohoo,,,I guess my family needs a streusel top to entice them.
Kirk September 25, 2016
I'll bet a few fresh berries or diced apple just dropped on top prior to baking would be beautiful and work fantastically with lemon & ginger. Thanks for a great recipe!!!
Franny H. September 24, 2016
I just made these this morning and they are delicious! I used 2 oz fresh, locally grown ginger and I would add more ginger next time or add chopped candied ginger chunks. I had some ginger simple syrup in the fridge, so I poured a spoonful of that on each muffin as soon as they came out of the oven and it added a nice extra ginger flavour, moisture, and stickiness. Would definitely recommend! Would make these again for sure.