Rosemary-Lemon Muffins

I love foods with a secret ingredient – whether I can taste it or not. It’s like a food who-dun-it or a little tasty mystery that leaves you madly reading through the recipe. I’m not a mystery book genre gal, but in terms of food – I do love a good puzzle because most often times the ingredients we don’t first realize make whatever we are eating taste better. You can use the secret ingredient in other recipes that call for similar items. The herb thyme brings out a certain freshness to chicken and turkey and espresso brings out chocolate flavor (thank you Ina Garten). Sometimes it is apple sauce or sour cream in cakes and honey in breads. I can’t say the same is true for processed foods – that they have an awesome hidden ingredient. Usually it’s the opposite. I’m talking only in terms of home cooking.

This brings me to Rosemary-Lemon Muffins. The name seems plain yet intriguing enough to be an absolutely delicious brunch item. But read on in the ingredients list and you will see pumpkin and polenta! I made these thinking I would actually taste pumpkin, but nope. They taste like amazing little corn bread sweet and savory muffins that are looking to entertain. There is so much flavor hidden (or maybe right out there?) you will be asked “what’s in this?” which usually translates to “these are so utterly amazing, what did you put in here?” And there is your little who-dun-it mystery brunch all because of a wonderful little muffin.

p.s. I also love using powdered sugar instead of granulated. Just something fun that doesn’t always come about in muffin recipes.

Rosemary-Lemon Muffins Adapted from California Olive Ranch


  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary*
  • 2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup spelt flour
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup polenta
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin purée, canned or homemade
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar

*Having trouble mincing rosemary? So did I, thus the blender idea below. If you can’t mince it with your knife throw it in the blender for a few whirls, then slowly add the zest and olive oil.

How To:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2  standard muffin cups with paper liners.

Measure out olive oil. In a blender combine rosemary, zest and about 1/4 cup olive oil. Blend and then slowly add the rest of the olive oil.  In a large bowl, stir together the powdered sugar, flours, polenta, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Create a well and add eggs. Mix until just combined. While hand mixer is on low speed, add rosemary mixture. Mix until combined. Add pumpkin and beat until smooth, about 1 minute longer.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle with raw sugar and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Serve warm or at room temperature. You are able to store the muffins in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Alternately wrap tightly and freeze for up to 1 month.

Makes 24 muffins.


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