Thursday, July 31, 2008

Perfect for a picnic: jam jar muffins

A friend of mine who founded my favorite flickr food photography group, the food photography club, posted an image of little cakes baked in preserving jars. I thought the idea was so cute and would work well with an adapted muffin recipe. Thorsten’s cakes are made with cream cheese and egg whites and apparently can be kept in the jars for up to two weeks. I would be afraid to represent that my recipe would fare equally well (and afraid to poison you!) – but the good thing is that these delicious little lemon poppy seed muffins will not last that long anyway! I used little jam jars with a tad less than 1 cup capacity. Baked in these jars with a little spoon tied to the outside, they make the perfect summer picnic accompaniment. They’re self-contained, won’t squish in the picnic basket and are simply adorable!

My muffins have a little surprise at the bottom: a tablespoon of jam that comes out of the oven molten and delicious. When you cut or spoon into the muffin you end up with a dollop of jam in each bite. Strawberry jam is perfect with the lemon poppy seed muffins – I could easily see it working equally well with corn muffins.

Jam jar muffins
(yield: six large muffins)

3 lemons, scrubbed and patted dry
½ cup butter, room temperature
1 cup plus 2 Tbs sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk
2 cups flour
2 Tbs poppy seeds
¼ cup plus 4 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 tablespoons strawberry jam

Heat oven to 375. Grease inside of jam jars. Lightly spread one tablespoon of jam into the bottom of each jar. Finely grate lemon peel to yield 2 Tbs.

In a large bowl, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add lemon peel.

In a separate bowl, stir baking soda into yogurt (it will bubble).

Fold flour into butter mix 1/3 of the time alternating with the yogurt mix. Stir in poppy seeds. Stir in 4 tablespoons lemon juice. When well blended, scoop into jam jars until ~2/3 to ¾ full (muffins may pop up beyond the top of the jar when baked but will easily compress when the lid is closed). Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool on a rack. Combine remaining ¼ cup with 2 tablespoons sugar. Spoon mixture evenly over the top of each muffin.


Anonymous said...

What a great idea!

Liliana said...

What an absolutely brilliant idea!
I definitely have to try your recipe.

The photos are beautiful.

Annemarie said...

Those are very pretty indeed. It would also prevent me from unceremoniously shoving huge chunks of muffin into my face if I had a dainty spoon to attack it with instead.

Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said...

As I've said before I think these are a great idea...and perfect for a picnic. love the addition of the jam on the bottom!

Y said...

Two weeks in a jar.. hmm.. I don't think they would last that long in my house anyway! Your version looks so pretty. I like the surprise jam at the bottom.

Anonymous said...

Those are adorable and of course look divine.

Anonymous said...

Well now, these are about the cutest things I've ever seen!

Anonymous said...

Mmmmmmm . . . . these sound & look delicious. Your photos are beautiful. Would make a great Holiday or anytime gift!

Sylvia said...

Wonderful idea, just perfect for pic nic.The photos are lovely too

Alexa said...

What a brilliant idea! They look beautiful and delicious. Gorgeous pictures.

Anonymous said...

What a pretty way to do muffins. Lemon and Poppy seed is such a great combination too.

Anonymous said...

Really creative & lovely! Will the metal part of the jar melt in the oven?

Pea and Pear said...

This is the cutest thing I have seen in for ever. i love it!!!!! I can't wait to tell someone so they can bake it for me ;) Just gorgeous!

Unknown said...

Love it!! Where do you get your jam jars?

Anonymous said...

Wow! What a fresh burst of color. Makes me want to go on a picnic.

Sabra said...

Thanks so much everyone for all of your comments! I'm glad you liked this one.
To answer a few questions:
1. No - the metal does not melt but the entire thing comes out of the oven quite hot and needs to be handled with care
2. I bought these at the container store. They are smaller than the typical size and are very cute! : )
3. Yes, annemarie - this does have a way of making you eat a little more neatly! : )
Thanks again everyone - hope you try them.

Anonymous said...

What perfect picnic food - these are so adorable (and I love that they're self-contained!) I am really enamored of those hinged jars..I have a few that I use to keep jams, sauces, etc. in the fridge, but I need to find some smaller ones for these muffins. Great idea!

Anonymous said...

These are just the cutest things I have ever seen. I found some similar jar jams in Italy and wasn't quite sure what to do with them. Now you have inspired me!

Thanks so much,


Jade said...

I love new picnic ideas! These look wonderful - and gorgeous too :)

Anonymous said...


Ingrid_3Bs said...

Your photos are beautiful and the jars are darling!
Ingrid :-)

MPG said...

What a great idea and how cute! I can't tell you how much I love looking at your shots :)

KayKat said...

I *love* those pictures - the muffins look so decadent. So, those jars work well for baking - that's a pretty neat idea.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I have been following your blog for a while, and I love the little ideas you have.

I am very keen on trying this recipe, and I was wondering can these little jars withstand the heat from the oven. I am so scared it will explode.

Do check out my food blog when you have the time...some of the stuff is due to your inspiration! thank you so much!

Vanessa (From Singapore)

sefa firdaus said...

Hi Sabra,
It's nice to know you.
Congrats on winning the first place of DMBLGIT Aug 2008.
Your photo is really beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Just found your blog from flickr, I am loving! Especially your food photography, is amazing, so much I can learn from you!

Anonymous said...

This has to be the cutest muffin recipe I have ever seen! Great photos!

We would like to feature this muffin idea on our blog! If interested email

Anonymous said...

What a terrific idea! These would make a sweet baby shower or wedding shower favor! I might even do this for office Christmas gifts!

Anonymous said...

Oh, where did you find the jars? I'm only finding large jars of the wire bale style.

Sabra said...

Thanks again everyone
The container store

Anonymous said...

Hi Scrokodile,
I've baked these cute things last night. I hade to convert everything in european measur system but they turn to be pretty goed. I have only 1 question. The jam came up tot the top of the muffin .What did I do wrong? Was too much jam or the jar was too high or..... It is not a big problem only a wonder.
Ildiko from The Netherlands

Sabra said...

Hi Idiko! Glad you tried it. Hmmmm - I can't imagine how that would possibly happen! The cake batter should cook right on top of the jam and nothing should happen to the jam except spread out along the bottom as it heats. I a miffed! Try it again and see . ..

Unknown said...

they look cool! =)

Cheryl said...

"Cool on a rack. Combine remaining ¼ cup with 2 tablespoons sugar. Spoon mixture evenly over the top of each muffin. "........1/4 cup of WHAT?

these look delicious

Sabra said...

lemon juice : )

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