Sit down. Be humble. Kendrick is on while I type this from the air conditioned comfort of a friend's house during an historic Portland, OR heatwave. It's going to get up to 108° today and the heat is real. In the daze of this heat haze, it occurred to me, Blueberry muffins might just be one of the most humble of all pastries. They are so simple and basic but when done right, they are kind of the perfect little pastry. Humble pie ain't got nothing on these Blueberry Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins.
Hanging in Portland today reminds me of the humble beginnings of my baking journey. I've mentioned my personal baking bible and OG inspiration, Grand Central Bakery in Portland and the The Grand Central Baking Book. But, today I am feeling as humble as these Blueberry LemonPoppy Seed Muffins and I want to share my gratitude for Piper Davis, the owner and all around badass behind Grand Central Bakery.
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When I moved to Portland in the year 2001 with my then new boyfriend, now husband of 10 years, Dayn, Grand Central Bakery became our one indulgence. We were dirt poor, living in an apartment that smelled like cat pee, stale cigarettes and black mold. My car was stolen within 2 weeks of moving here, conveniently on the day I had a big job interview. We had no money, a broken, hand me down folding card table as a dining table/desk and survived solely on boxed off-brand mac n cheese and ramen. Once we finally scraped together a few bucks, we splurged and popped into Grand Central Bakery for a coffee and pastry. I ordered a small cup of drip coffee and humble blueberry muffin and that was it, I was hooked and committed to saving my cash to indulge on this simple life pleasure as much as possible.
When Piper Davis came out with the Grand Central Baking Book in 2009, I immediately bought a copy and went straight to the Blueberry Muffin recipe. At this time, I wasn't much of a baker. It was a whole lot of tubed cookie dough and Funfetti cupcakes with the one exception, my Apple Cheddar Pie, a fan fave which I've been making for at least 15 years now. That first recipe for Blueberry Muffins in the GCB book baked up exactly like the muffins at the bakery, EXACTLY. Next up I tried Piper's recipe for Jammers and again, I was blown away by how easy they were to make and how they stacked up to the bakery version. Every single recipe from the GCB cookbook comes out aces, every single time. Piper is a straight shooter and her recipes are as honest and straightforward as she is. She is a brilliant businesswoman, dedicated community leader and an all around inspirational human. Her baking book breaks down the recipes in a real and approachable way, that even the most novice of bakers can understand. This cookbook and some encouraging support from Piper are the reason I started baking and the reason I didn't give up. If you get one baking book, the Grand Central Baking Book is all you'll ever need.
Whenever I feel overwhelmed by all of my projects or get frustrated with new recipes that just aren't jiving, I will bake up a batch of my twist on Piper's classic, my Blueberry Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins. I've adapted her original recipe to include fresh lemon juice and zest, crunchy poppy seeds for texture, sweet almond extract and creamy Greek yogurt for an extra tangy twist. These Blueberry Lemon Poppyseed Muffins have just the right amount of subtle sweetness, allowing the bright lemon and bursting blueberries to shine. A sprinkle of sparkling sugar on top brings a little glitz and a welcome crunch to the crust. Whenever I bake these Blueberry Lemon Poppyseed Muffins, I always take a minute to sit down and be humble, while I reflect on how far I've come as a baker, thanks to one simple book and one super inspiring woman.Print