It’s citrus season! Which really means that it’s Meyer lemon season! Now is the time to indulge in these smaller, sweeter lemons, and these muffins are the perfect way to do so! This recipe only calls for one lemon, but you will use the whole thing – juice and zest, so get ready for outrageous lemony flavor!
I baked these beauties with my good friend Adam, and he had the genius idea to pair them with some delicious baked eggs (in a slice of acorn squash? Even better!). These muffins are perfect for your next brunch party or served alone. Let the light and tangy citrus flavor energize you during this frigid winter weather!
John Singer Sargent inspired these streusel-topped muffins, specifically his 1896 portrait of British aristocrat Mrs. Adele Meyer and her children. Sargent was a leading American portraitist very popular with the new upper-class that emerged during the Gilded Age. He was very wealthy and sought-after, and considered the quintessential American artist, despite having been born and raised in Florence, Italy. In fact, this European experience is part of what made him so attractive to his patrons in both Europe and America. This period was defined by nouveau riche robber baron families who aspired to live an extravagant lifestyle. Sargent’s work reflected the opulent European values that these patrons were attracted to, and he was valued for his skill in capturing them in this manner, therefore further flaunting their lavish way of living.
Adele Meyer was the wife of Carl Meyer, a British banker and mining magnate. Adele had a reputation for being flamboyant (in 19th century terms), and this portrait of her and her children Frank and Elsie reflects this. Adele is positioned near the center of the space, lounging on a satin sofa, while dressed stylishly and extravagantly in rich fabrics and pearls. Next to her is a discarded book – she is a woman of leisure, but has interrupted her reading to sit for this portrait.
Sargent was sure to portray his client as the epitome of perfection in this portrait. It’s an artfully-constructed fantasy, but the same cannot be said for these muffins – they are truly perfection, and are guaranteed to be the most popular thing in the room when you serve them!
Meyer Lemon Muffins
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup sugar
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons honey
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 Meyer lemon
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
½ cup + 1 tablespoon milk of your choice
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup almond meal
3 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
Make the muffins:
Preheat the oven to 425ºF and spray line a muffin pan with paper wrappers. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, abut 3 minutes. Add the egg, egg yolk, honey and vanilla, and beat until combined. Zest and juice the lemon and mix into the batter. In a separate bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter, followed by half of the milk and mix on low speed. Repeat and mix only until combined. Evenly divide the batter into your prepared muffin pan and set aside.
Make the streusel:
Combine the streusel ingredients to a bowl and use a pastry blender to work the mixture until it resembles wet sand. Generously sprinkle the topping over each muffin. Reduce the oven temperature to 375ºF and bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Food52, makes 10
Featured art: John Singer Sargent, Mrs. Carl Meyer and Her Children, 1896, oil on canvas