Meyer Lemon Chia Seed Muffins – nothing but lemons and sunshine

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(Meyer Lemon Chia Seed Muffins – recipe in post)

Spring is here – and there’s no holding me down!

Here in Michigan, it’s not uncommon for thick layers of snow this time of year… so with March temperatures at a whopping 84f. degrees, I’m rightfully a little perturbed. It’s supposed to cool down to a (still above average) 60-something over the weekend, which I have to say I’m looking forward to. I’m not ready to resign my oven mitts and baking to the swelter. Not yet!

On the wings of warm weather, however, has come an early bloom – magnolia trees and daffodils everywhere I look.

When I was a kid, I always knew it was spring when the crocuses sprung up underfoot. The back yard of the house I grew up in was wrapped in lilacs, walls of purple that filled my vision. The smell was intoxicating. Here at The Boyfriend’s house, you can only imagine what nostalgia filled my lungs when I first discovered that it, too, is surrounded by lilacs. I can’t wait for them to bloom again this year.

With so many warm memories riding on this sunshine, I had to make something to celebrate it – heat be damned, I was turning on the oven!

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(Ingredients: Lemons & Sunshine)

One of my childhood favorites was the always classic Lemon Poppy Seed Muffin – and to this day, I cannot bring myself to pass up a slice of lemon poppyseed pound cake, or cookie, or anything else reminiscent of such things.

Here, I decided to make a couple small changes, using chia seeds instead of poppy seeds for a boost of omega-3s, and Meyer lemons. These little jewels of citrus are optional, of course, but are sweeter and brighter than regular lemons and add a special touch. On another note, they’re perfect for making lemon curd… which would go perfectly with these muffins! But that’s for another time.

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Packed full of sunshine, these little muffins are sheer smile-inducing goodness. Perfect for sharing and potlucking, or brightening up an Easter celebration… or for no reason at all!

Turning on the oven was so worth it.

Meyer Lemon Chia Seed Muffins
(Recipe adapted from Joanne Chang’s Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf recipe in her incredible book ‘Flour’)

2 cups cake flour (leveled, not packed)
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt (or 1/4 tsp. table salt)
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 3 TBSP unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup heavy cream or whole milk, room temperature
3 TBSP Meyer lemon zest (or regular lemon zest)
1 TBSP fresh Meyer lemon juice (or regular lemon juice)
3 TBSP chia seeds (or poppy seeds)
1 vanilla bean, seeds of (or 1/8th tsp. vanilla paste)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

For the glaze:
1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice (or regular lemon juice)
1/4 cup granulated sugar


Preheat oven to 350f. (180c.), and line your muffin or cupcake tins. (Alternatively, you can spray/grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan, as that’s what the recipe was originally intended for).

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt – give it a stir to make sure everything is evenly combined, and set aside.

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Melt the butter and let it stand for a minute or two, so that it’s warm but not hot. Add the cream, lemon zest and juice, chia seeds, vanilla, and vanilla extract. Stir to combine. The mixture should be thick, like a pancake batter – if the butter begins to solidify, warm it in 10 second intervals in the microwave. Set aside.

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Using a hand or stand mixer, beat together the sugar and eggs. You want the yolks to go from deep yellow to light, fluffy, and pale. After 4-5 minutes the mixture will seem like a heavy custard, and your beaters should leave trails as they spin. Keep beating for another couple minutes.

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(Tip: I always have a jar of vanilla sugar around for baking – whenever I use a vanilla bean, I add any remaining seeds and the pod to a jar of plain granulated sugar. Refill with sugar and replace dried-out vanilla beans as needed, and the goodness will never end!)

Using a flexible rubber spatula, gently fold the flour mixture into the beaten eggs and sugar. Fold by swooping the spatula down through the center, and coming up the side of the bowl – be sure to scrape along the bottom. Once most of the flour is incorporated, add half, and then all, of the lemon/butter/cream mixture, folding in between additions. Fold just until everything is combined, being sure not to over-mix.

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Evenly distribute the batter into your muffins or cupcake tins (or pour the entire batch into a greased 9×5 loaf pan). This should make approximately 20 regular-sized muffins, or 60-70 minis.

Place your muffins on the middle rack of the oven, and reduce the temperature to 325f. (160c.).
Bake for 20-22 minutes, rotating the pan half-way through to ensure even baking. For minis, bake for 16-18 minutes, or until golden on top and a cake tester or tooth-pic inserted in the center comes out clean. (Or, for a loaf, bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until the top begins to turn golden).

Return the oven temperature to 350f. (180c.) between batches.

Let the muffins rest for 1-2 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

For the glaze:

In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and lemon juice to a simmer, stirring just until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat.

Brush the lemon syrup over the tops of the still warm muffins. After brushing all of them once, you should have plenty of syrup to go back and make a second, or even third, pass. Letting this soak into the cakes is key to the overall experience, so don’t skimp!


Serve fresh and warm, or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a few days.

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20 Responses to Meyer Lemon Chia Seed Muffins – nothing but lemons and sunshine

  1. Kat March 24, 2012 at 2:36 am #

    The smell of lilacs is absolutely intoxicating. It is my favorite. My mom always says if you find a five petal flower, it means good luck and you’re supposed to eat it (except I think recently she got a mutant tree for her backyard where every other one is a five petal flower).

    I had no idea about the omega 3’s in chia seeds! And I love how everything pops with color. The bright yellows in your photographs remind me of sunshine. I like the last one the most, I love the colors and the cherry blossoms.

    • Willow March 24, 2012 at 4:31 am #

      Thanks, Kat! I feel like I’ve heard that five-petaled flower theory before… hmm. With a tree like that your mom mustbe very lucky indeed!

  2. From Valeries Kitchen March 24, 2012 at 3:22 am #

    So pretty for Spring Willow! I’m a crazy Meyer lemon fiend. No kidding. My husband is aware of this a bought me a Meyer lemon tree a couple of years ago for Mother’s Day and I was thrilled. I may have to give these a try.

    • Willow March 24, 2012 at 4:33 am #

      I am so jealous of your Meyer lemon tree! They’re spilling over the market’s produce section right now, so I definitely have Lemon Curd on my list. :)

  3. beti March 24, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

    first, your photos are amazing and second those muffins look really good and I never thought of adding chia seeds

    • Willow March 25, 2012 at 1:42 am #

      Thanks, Beti! I thought they turned out nicely – perhaps a little more cupcake like than muffin like, but tasty either way. :)

  4. Katherine Martinelli March 24, 2012 at 8:32 pm #

    These are gorgeous! I love meyer lemons, and lemon poppyseed muffins. The chia seeds are a great idea here – I have a new jar ready to use. Thanks for linking up at my blog hop! Pinned :-)

    • Willow March 25, 2012 at 1:43 am #

      Danka! I love throwing Chia seeds in whenever I can, but I rarely think to… here it was just the perfect opportunity!

  5. Shira March 24, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

    Yum, these look just too gorgeous! I love Meyer lemons and chia…really anything with lemons – these look gorgeous and the photography is superb!

  6. Jen @ Juanita's Cocina March 25, 2012 at 12:16 am #

    Dear sweet Willow,

    I adore you and your blog. I know you know this already.

    Also, I love the purple cupcake holders. They make me happy.

    Also, I’m passing some bloggy love in your direction.

    Love, Jen

    • Willow March 25, 2012 at 1:55 am #

      Aww, thank you so much, Jen! You have no idea how big I smiled when I read this – it absolutely made my day. I’ll accept the award (in a blog post) as soon as I can. *So happy* :D

  7. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes March 26, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    Absolutely Beautiful!

    I too have fond memories of Lilacs – I believe it is actually NH’s State Flower – I was so excited to learn I had one in my backyard of our new home and our neighbors had 2 very mature bushes that bordered our yards.

    Love the hint of placing the vanilla bean in a jar of sugar – when I saw that I kinda had a moment of guilt that I threw away all of my past vanilla beans.

    Meyer lemons are so bright, this is such a perfect spring recipe :)

    • Willow March 27, 2012 at 1:31 am #

      Thanks! I’m a little worried about the lilacs actually, because they’ve already started budding and it’s supposed to drop below freezing the next couple nights… fingers crossed they make it through okay!

  8. Soni March 26, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

    These look stunning!Love the idea of chia seeds in there although I’ve never had one before!Lovely recipe and clicks :)

    • Willow March 27, 2012 at 1:34 am #

      Thanks! You should definitely try chia seeds… they’re very small, and don’t offer much flavor of their own (a lot like poppy seeds, in fact) but they’re supposed to be quite healthy, and can be added to smoothies and the like to help thicken things up a bit. They worked perfectly in these cupcakes, and could probably be used in place of poppy seeds in most applications. :)

  9. Kiri W. March 27, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

    Oooh, meyer lemons :) I have never had chia seeds, it sounds like such an interesting seed!

    • Willow March 27, 2012 at 10:22 pm #

      Aren’t Meyer Lemons great? And I don’t use chia seeds all that often, but love having them on hand.

  10. Eating Local in the Lou March 28, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    I cant wait to try this- I have Meyer lemons in the fridge begging to be used. Now I just need to track down some Chia seeds. Buzzed and saved on Foodbuzz :)

    • Willow March 28, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

      Thank you – I hope you like them! :D

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