Friday, October 13, 2006

The Perfect Lemon Poppyseed Muffin

Muffins are an uniquely American food. They are like having cake for breakfast. Next to bagels, muffins are the most consumed breakfast bread in America. On any given morning, the bakeshops and coffee shops in every major city offer a staggering variety of muffins ranging the mundane but tasty corn and honey bran to the fruity-sweet cranberry-orange and blueberry. There are exotic flavours like kiwi-strawberry and pineapple-mango. And then, there is my favourite flavour, lemon poppyseed.

A really good lemon poppyseed muffin will not be neon yellow. It will not be sickly sweet like over-sugared lemonade or overly sour like children’s candy. It will not have sugar on top or twists of lemon peel for decoration. Poppyseeds will not be limited to the stump. It will not be heavy and greasy with oil nor will it be dry and crumbly so it falls apart as you eat it or pull off the top to eat it from the inside out (as I like to do).

I have spent considerable time and effort these past few years investigating where in Boston to find the best lemon poppyseed muffin. And after sampling lemon poppyseed muffins in every bakeshop/coffee shop within a ten-mile radius of our home, I have decided that Panificio on Charles Street has the very best lemon poppyseed muffin in Boston.

Their lemon poppyseed muffin is filled with scads of poppyseeds and little flecks of lemon zest evenly distributed throughout the muffin. It tastes subtly of fresh lemons and sunshine. The outside is golden with little cracks showing peeks of the pale white and moist insides. It has a high, wide, tapering crown and short squat stump. It does not fall to pieces when I tear off the stump but sticks together when pick up dropped morsels from my plate and scrunch them together. It has the texture of a fine cake and the lightness of a good Southern biscuit.

In other words, Panificio’s muffin is pure lemon poppyseed manna from heaven.