Plum poppyseed muffins from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Long before I was blogging, I was reading food blogs. Some of the first blogs I read are still amongst the blogs I read today – including Smitten Kitchen.  Deb Perelman’s honest, clever writing, her recipes that always work and her gorgeous pictures have kept me coming back for years now. And clearly I am not the only one.  When I told people I was going to hear Deb speak in Toronto last week (an event presented by The Cookbook Store), even my non-food blogging (and, in fact, not really food-blog-reading) friends were jealous.  Deb’s audience is far and (world)wide and I guess everyone goes back for the same reasons I do.

What makes Deb’s site and recipes remarkable is that everything is prepared in (in Deb’s words) “a puny 42 square foot circa-1935 sort of half-galley kitchen with a 24 foot footprint, a single counter, tiny stove, checkered floor and a noisy window at the end to the avenue below.”  Deb’s recipes are, according to her “comfort foods stepped up a bit” and she avoids posting (and, I guess, making) “excessively fussy foods and/or pretentious ingredients.”  She believes that “food should be accessible“, I guess which is why when Alison Fryer of The Cookbook Store asked the packed house at George Brown College in Toronto on Friday night to raise their hands if Deb’s site had inspired them to get back in the kitchen and cook more, nearly every hand was raised. Her recipes are do-able.

Accessible, delicious, do-able. A winning combination for a recipe.

I was also fortunate enough, thanks to Random House Canada, to attend a brunch the morning after Deb’s talk where a few Toronto bloggers were invited to meet Deb and taste first-hand some of the breakfast dishes from her book, as made by the Random House staff!  It was lovely to have even an hour to spend chatting with and listening to Deb in a more intimate setting.

Armed with my copy of the book, I headed home, inspired to get into the kitchen and bake.  These plum poppyseed muffins called out to me – especially as we are just on the tail end of being able to get decent plums.  With just 10 minutes prep and 18 minutes to bake, they definitely fit Deb’s “easy, accessible and delicious” philosophy.  As I explained my boys cooking clubs to Deb, and we discussed the fact that “simple to make food doesn’t have to be boring or tasteless”, I wondered how many of these recipes I might be able to make in under an hour with Les Petits Chefs.  For me that is always a good test – can I make a dish in under an hour with 17 boys under the age of 13 in a science lab? Looking through Deb’s book, I am certain many of these fit the bill…

Yield: makes 12 muffins

Plum poppyseed muffins

plum poppyseed muffins from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook on a baking tray

Plum poppyseed muffins - not too sweet. Studded with gorgeous plums these would make a great breakfast or anytime snack. Excerpted from THE SMITTEN KITCHEN COOKBOOK by Deb Perelman. Copyright © 2012 by Deb Perelman. All rights reserved. Used with permission from the publisher. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 33 minutes


  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces or 85 grams) unsalted butter, melted and browned and cooled, plus butter for muffin cups
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) packed dark or light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (180 grams) sour cream or a rich, full- fat plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) whole- wheat flour
  • 1 cup (125 grams) all- purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons (20 grams) poppy seeds
  • 2 cups pitted and diced plums, from about ¾ pound (340 grams) Italian prune plums (though any plum variety will do)


  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Butter twelve muffin cups.
  2. Whisk the egg with both sugars in the bottom of a large bowl. Stir in the melted butter, then the sour cream. In a separate bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and poppy seeds, and then stir them into the sour- cream mixture until it is just combined and still a bit lumpy. Fold in the plums.
  3. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the tops are golden and a tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Rest muffins in the pan on a cooling rack for 2 minutes, then remove them from the tin to cool them completely.

Do Ahead:

Generally, I think muffins are best on the first day, but these surprise me by being twice as moist, with even more developed flavors, on day two. They’re just a little less crisp on top after being in an airtight container overnight.

Cooking Note:

You don’t create seven muffin recipes in a year without learning a few things. I found that you could dial back the sugar in most recipes quite a bit and not miss much (though, if you find that you do, a dusting of powdered sugar or a powdered- sugar– lemon- juice glaze works well here); that a little whole- wheat fl our went a long way to keep muffins squarely in the breakfast department; that you can almost always replace sour cream with buttermilk or yogurt, but I like sour cream best. Thick batters— batters almost like cookie dough— keep fruit from sinking, and the best muffins have more fruit inside than seems, well, seemly. And, finally, in almost any muffin recipe, olive oil can replace butter, but people like you more when you use butter— and if you brown that butter first, you might have trouble getting them to leave.

did you make this recipe?

please leave a comment or review on the blog or share a photo and tag me on Instagram @eatlivtravwrite !


These muffins were a revelation – I loved that they are muffins proper (i.e. not cupcakes masquerading as muffins as is too often the case today). They contain hardly any sugar (just 1/2 cup in total of granulated and brown sugars) and the high fruit to batter ratio makes them not only look lovely but each mouthful contains a lot of plum. In every muffin. You know so you don’t have to pick over the batch to find the one with the most fruit.  I’ll be making them again for sure – so easy to whip up (and I can see this working well with other stone fruits too) and so fruity they nearly feel virtuous.

Deb’s introduction to the book ends with “So welcome. I hope you’re hungry” and I can honestly say as I look at my list of “want to make” from the book that you will be after taking a look inside.

Thanks to the kind folks at Random House Canada, I have one copy of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook to give away and the good news is that it’s a WORLDWIDE giveaway!

To enter: Leave me a comment telling me which of the recipes on this shortened “to make” list from the book I should make first:

Big cluster maple granola
Potato frittata with feta and scallions
Iceberg stack with blue cheese and radishes
Cranberry bean salad with walnuts and feta
Shaved asparagus pizza
Spaghetti squash and black bean tacos with queso fresco
Mushroom bourguignon
Leek fritters with garlic and lemon
Pancetta, white bean and Swiss chard pot pies
Tomato glazed meatloaves with brown butter mashed potatoes
Brownie roll out cookies
Whole lemon bars
Mom’s apple cake
Tiny but intense chocolate cake
Coffee toffee

For a second entry, tweet the following message:

Enter to win the @smittenkitchen cookbook from @RandomHouseCA + @eatlivtravwrite {worldwide} Details here:

then come back to leave me a comment letting me know you did.

Contest closes Monday November 26th at 6pm EST. Winner chosen at random through and announced on Tuesday November 27th on the blog.

Good luck!

Disclosure: I received a copy of the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook as part of the blogger brunch. I have not been asked to write about the book, nor am I being compensated for doing so. All opinions 100% my own.  Random House Canada are providing one (1) copy of the book for a worldwide giveaway.

EDITED TO ADD: Contest closed.


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129 thoughts on “Plum poppyseed muffins from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook”

  1. My choice is a toss up between the Leek Fritters and the Tiny But Intense Chocolate Cake; but knowing boys from having two of my own, I will have to go with the Tiny but Intense Chocolate Cake. I also tweeted the “Enter to Win”. Have a wonderful day, Mardi ! and thank you to Random House Canada & You for hosting this Give Away.

  2. I already have a copy of the book, but she has a rib recipe with a parsnip puree that is just killer. And the buttered popcorn cookies were just too good.
    Whoever you send this book to is going to l.o.v.e. it 🙂

  3. Brownie roll out cookie sounds fun and so is Tiny but intense choco cake. Whoa what a tough choice. Go for the cookies first. The giveaway is so cool. I love smitten kitchen. Thanks to you and Random house for the giveaway. Count me in

  4. I would do the Tomato glazed meatloaves with brown butter mashed potatoes first as I always look for a meal that the whole family can be involved in instead of desserts which can appeal quite differently to each member at home.

  5. They all sound so good, but my eyes kept going back to the

    “Leek Fritters with Garlic and Lemon.” Sounds light and lemony.

    I would love to win Deb’s Book!!!

    My life has been filled with so much stress lately, I think the book may help and upswing :~D

    Have a Joyful Day :~D

  6. I forgot to rate this recipe :~(

    It sounds so delicious, and has given me an idea for another recipe!

    Although I haven’t tried them yet I’ll rate them a four.

    I do this trusting both Deb’s and your tried and true recipes.

    Have a Joyful Day :~D

  7. I am hungry before I even opened this book: the cover photo is fantastic!
    What to cook? Well, everything sounds delicious! I want all of this:

    Mushroom bourguignon
    Leek fritters with garlic and lemon
    Pancetta, white bean and Swiss chard pot pies
    Sorry, I just can’t choose only one… 🙂

  8. Oh, you need to try the Spaghetti squash and black bean tacos with queso fresco and let us know how it goes! Sounds so yummy!

  9. Love how wonderful your muffins turned out. I had a hard time choosing which recipe you should try next. The baker in me would love to see you make any of the sweets but then I think that you should make a dish that you and Neil would enjoy serving to guests and if there are any leftovers, he could tuck them in his lunch bag. So…I’m suggesting you make the tomato glazed meatloaf with brown butter mashed potatoes.

  10. I’ve had a bit of a stressful few weeks, so what in the world could possibly be better than COFFEE and TOFFEE – I’ll tell you what – coffee toffee!!
    There is no way this could go wrong
    Hope you enjoy whatever it is you choose to make next!

  11. Those Whole Lemon Bars look intriguing. I can’t imagine they have “whole” lemons in them, but maybe slices of lemon…? Anyways, that’s what I’d check out first. 🙂
    And the plum poppyseed muffins looks fantastic, BTW!

    Thanks for the opportunity to win! 🙂

  12. I’m torn between the leek fritters and the pancetta, white bean and Swiss chard pot pies. I heard Deb speak in NYC last year, and can’t wait to read and cook from her book.

  13. The brownie roll out cookies – they’re really good, not too sweet and work for any meal – breakfast, snack, dessert with ice cream…

  14. Oh I cannot wait to get my mitts on Deb’s cookbook! And this teasing list of recipes just makes me want it more so 🙂 For my sweet tooth it would have to be the tiny but intense chocolate cake….intense chocolate just wins it for me 🙂

  15. Tomato glazed meatloaves with brown butter mashed potatoes.

    You should make this because it sounds the most challenging out of the list you’ve chosen. Although I agree and follow the idea that delicious food can be simple, a challenge is always a beautiful thing. There are more components to this meal, which will also be beneficial if you so chose to do it in your “boys cooking club” because really what man, grown or young, doesn’t enjoy meatloaf done right. Finally I want to add that the weather is getting colder here in Toronto, and hearty comfortable foods on chilly days is such a win.

    Hope you go with the meatloaf, and let us know how it goes!
    Happy Cooking.

  16. The Tiny but instense chocolate cakes sound just amazing! I am also drawn to the Mushroom bourguignon! That would be another top pick for me 🙂 I would love to win her book! So many good recipes! I love reading her blog.

  17. I’m always up for a good chocolate dessert, so I’d go for the Tiny But Intense Chocolate Cake! I love Deb’s blog and would love to have her cookbook too – thanks for the chance!

  18. The Tomato glazed meatloaves with brown butter mashed potatoes sounds really good as meatloaf seems to always have a bad rap but when done right, people don’t even know it’s meatloaf!

  19. The Potato frittata with feta and scallions recipe would definitely be at the top of our list and would lend itself well, if you decide to make it with your class. Frittatas, like quiche, are a fairly easy recipe to make and are always delicious and liked by most. What also stands in its favor, is that the ingredients do not appear to be seasonally limited, but are easily found year round.

  20. Definitely the brownie roll out cookies – combining two of humanity’s arguably most loved sweet foods 🙂 And thanks for the giveaway and recipe!

  21. Lemon bars! My vote is always for lemon bars! Also, i’m not sure if she has it in her book but on her site the raspberry breakfast bars are amazing!


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