The last few times I watched Lisa bake, I was in awe at how easily she had a dozen muffins and a pie done. I realized that it was the KitchenAid mixer that helped her move faster; I don’t know why I always insist on mixing batter by hand! I guess to me doing it without the machine left me with less utensils to wash, but now I know better. I also learned how to be patient and leave the oven alone until the baked goods rose; this helped them keep their intended shapes. Now I know why mine always collapsed in the middle! I’ve always been from the school of poking while cooking when it comes to meat, but now I know you’re not supposed to do that while baking.
I was determined to work like she did the next time I tried baking at home. When that chance came up, I looked for a muffin recipe that used ricotta cheese because I had a pint of it left after I made my own ricotta-filled raviolis. I just needed two lemons to complete the recipe below.
I highly recommend the Microplane Premium Classic zester (mine comes in a pretty turquoise handle) to make some very fine lemon zest. You see a gadget like it in the store and you immediately think, Who really needs that much zest that another tool had to be invented for it? It turns out there’s a huge difference from finely-chopping lemon peel to using a sharp zester. Again, negative points to trying to do things by hand.
My only regret is not adding slivers of fresh strawberries or almonds on top to give it a prettier presentation. Next time I will, now that I know muffins are so much easier to make with the right tools.
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup plus 1 tsp sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
finely grated lemon zest from 2 lemons
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp almond extract
1. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup sugar, butter, and lemon zest in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
2. Beat in the ricotta. Beat in the egg, lemon juice, and almond extract. The batter should be thick and fluffy.
3. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Preheat the oven to 350º. Divide the batter and fill each prepared muffin cup halfway. Bake until the muffins just become a tad golden on top, about 20 minutes.
Microplane Premium Classic Zester