There is something about muffin tops that makes them the most delicious part of the muffin. It’s not that I don’t like the base of the muffin – especially if it is packed with juicy blueberries or other goodies – but the domed top just seems to have an extra special deliciousness to it. One way to indulge your love of muffin tops is to bake just the tops and these Lemon Vanilla Muffin Tops can be baked right on a regular baking sheet, with no special equipment required.
The muffin tops are made in a way that is similar to scones, with cold butter rubbed into a dry ingredient mixture. Unlike scones, you want the interior of the muffin tops to be softer and more cake-like (similar to a muffin, of course), so the butter is cut in very finely and no large chunks of butter should remain in the batter. This will help the tops form a nice golden exterior while remaining tender and fluffy inside. I used both lemon juice and lemon zest in the batter, which gives the finished tops a very bright citrusy flavor. The batter is stiffer than a regular muffin batter, as you want the tops to hold their shape fairly well while they are baking.
I finished the muffin tops with a drizzle of lemon vanilla glaze, made by whisking together confectioners’ sugar with more lemon juice and vanilla. It accents the lemon in the muffin tops nicely and gives them a little extra sweetness. I served the muffin tops with a side of homemade lemon curd, which was an outstanding pairing, but the tops are just as good on their own. If you want a little texture, try stirring in a tablespoon of poppyseeds or chia seeds to your batter before baking. I’ll start serving these as soon as they come out of the oven, but they’re good the day after they’re baked (stored in an airtight container), as well.
Lemon Vanilla Muffin Tops
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Lemon Vanilla Glaze
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 – 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and sugar. Rub in butter with your fingertips or a pastry cutter (or pulse in the food processor), until the butter is very well incorporated and no large pieces remain visible. Stir in milk, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla extract until a sticky dough starts to form. Mix only until no streaks of dry ingredients are visible.
Drop dough in generous 1/4 cup portions onto the prepared baking sheet, allowing at least 3-4 inches between muffin tops.
Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until muffin tops are a deep golden brown and are set in the center, springing back when lightly pressed.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool before glazing.
To make the glaze: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until glaze is smooth and thick, but drizzles easily from the tines of a fork. If the icing is runny, whisk in a little extra confectioners’ sugar. If the icing is too thick to drizzle, add in an additional teaspoon or two of lemon juice.
Drizzle glaze over cooled scones and allow it to set slightly before serving.
Makes 8 muffin tops.