Lemon Buttermilk Muffins

Time 45 minutes
Yields Makes 12 muffins
Lemon Buttermilk Muffins
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Buttermilk is understated--a quiet, old-fashioned ingredient that brings its own small delight to summer dishes. Yet a bit of buttermilk imparts a tangy and refreshing edge to cakes, salad dressings, even ice cream.

The secret is its sour taste, which adds a little acidity but also a homeyness. Originally, buttermilk was the leftover milk after churning butter from whole cream. It’s now typically made from pasteurized skim milk, with a culture added to develop the flavor and produce a creamier texture.

You might not think of buttermilk as a flavoring for ice cream, but it works perfectly. This vanilla bean ice cream is not as sweet--but also not as bland--as scoops of vanilla; try it with summer berries or as a topping for fruit crisps and pies.

The lemon buttermilk muffins capture that old-time taste, and guess what--buttermilk marries well with lemon. Serve the muffins for breakfast or with afternoon tea or coffee.

The cake, included here from “The Cake Bible,” is a wonderful warm weather dessert--the buttermilk enriches the cake’s buttery taste. It’s best served with whipped cream and fresh fruit.

Buttermilk is lower in fat and cholesterol than regular milk and comes in low-fat varieties. It will last up to two weeks in the refrigerator, but often will be fine for baking even after the expiration date.

You can create a buttermilk substitute when baking if you have none on hand: Add enough milk to one tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to equal one cup. Stir and let the mixture stand about five minutes. Buttermilk should not be substituted for regular milk in recipes, however.


Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners, or grease the cups.


Place the zest, sugar, butter and egg in a bowl. Use a wooden spoon to mix well. Stir in the buttermilk. Combine the flour, baking soda, cloves and salt, then stir into the egg mixture. Don’t over mix. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups.


Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Dip the tops of the muffins into the glaze while still hot. Let rest at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve warm by reheating in a 300-degree oven or microwave on medium-high power.