Magdalenas (Spanish Lemon Muffins)

Start your morning off right with a burst of sweet, lemony bliss.

Vertical image of muffins, with one halved, on a wooden table in front of a napkin, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

Originating in the Aragon region, and enjoyed today throughout most areas of Spain, this type of magdalena is a moist and fluffy muffin-like treat that’s sweet like a cupcake, and enjoyed in the morning.

And it delivers quite a bit of zing, thanks to fresh lemon juice and zest that’s blended throughout the batter.

You may be able to find them if you have a Spanish bakery or grocery store in your neighborhood, but the rest of us get to bake them at home from scratch. They make for a delightful addition to a brunch spread, and goes very well with a large cafe con leche.

Filling, with just the right amount of sweetness, I would serve these after or alongside savory dishes like chorizo and potato frittata or pisto con huevo, which is basically a ratatouille stew made with zucchini, tomato, onion, potato, and bell pepper topped with a fried egg.

The traditional recipe calls for olive oil, but you can use softened unsalted butter instead. The olive oil flavor doesn’t really stand out in the store-bought versions I’ve tried, but I’ve found using butter in the homemade version renders a slightly lighter baked good.

Vertical close-up image of a stack of small, yellow round baked goods on a white plate.

I don’t use cupcake liners because I like them slightly crunchy on the outside, which makes them perfect for a little dunk in your coffee, or hot milk for the kids. But be sure to oil your muffin tin adequately, so they will pop out easily. Regular vegetable oil or a swirl of butter will do the trick.

I also like to run a sharp steak knife around the edges once the magdalenas have cooled, to be doubly sure they’ll ease out without any breakage.

The simplicity of this recipe makes it very easy to adjust the intensity of the lemon. I like to incorporate both the zest and juice, but adjusting the amount of zest will make the most significant difference in terms of how much the flavor will pop.

Stick with one tablespoon of zest for just a hint of a zing. Add two tablespoons for a bigger jolt of citrus flavor.

Creaming the butter and sugar together is what I feel separates a cupcake from the standard quick bread or muffin. So, though these are served traditionally for breakfast and aren’t frosted, you can feel free to call them cupcakes if you like.

Vertical image of small, yellow, round baked goods on a wooden cutting board, with one cut in half.

Creaming creates a smooth and well aerated batter, which makes the finished baked treats light, fluffy, and scrumptious.

I especially love how these magdalenas look, creamy yellow on top and golden brown around the base. They also fill the house with a warm and fresh aroma.

I baked these for brunch on Sunday while everyone was still asleep. And sure enough, as the batter started to rise and a citrusy bouquet wafted about, a bunch of sleepy-headed kids found their way to the kitchen, followed by an even sleepier dad.

I didn’t have to worry about storing any leftovers – all twelve were gone in a flash.

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Horizontal image of a stack of round, light yellow, small baked goods on a white plate on a white napkin.

Magdalenas (Spanish Lemon Muffins)


  • Author: Katherine and Eddie D'Costa
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 12 magdalenas 1x

Description

A moist, sweet, and fluffy Spanish magdalena popping with lemony flavor is a classic treat enjoyed with a mug of cafe con leche in the morning.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, for greasing pan
  • 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat each cup of a 12-cup muffin pan with vegetable oil. Set aside.
  2. Using a handheld mixer with beaters or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed in a large bowl until creamed, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until everything is combined, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
  4. In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 3 additions, beating on low speed after each addition until each addition is thoroughly combined
  6. Add milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice and mix on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds.
  7. Spoon batter evenly into the muffin pan cups, filling each about 2/3 full.
  8. Bake for about 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a magdalena comes out clean.
  9. Remove from the oven and transfer muffins to a cooling rack. Serve warm or allow to cool for about 30 minutes before storing.
  • Category: Muffins
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Breakfast

Keywords: magdalenas, Spanish, lemon

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep Pan, and Cream Butter and Sugar

First, measure out all of your ingredients.

Horizontal image of prepped ingredients on a wooden cutting board to bake lemon baked goods.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Using a 12-cup muffin pan, coat each cup with vegetable oil. Set the pan aside. You can use paper cupcake liners for easy cleanup, but the muffins won’t have a crunchy coating on the base if you bake them this way.

Using your choice of mixer, either a handheld mixer with beaters or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed in a large bowl until creamed, about 2-3 minutes. The mixture should be a light yellow color, with a fluffy texture.

Horizontal image of creamed butter and sugar in a metal bowl on a wooden cutting board.

Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.

Step 2 – Add Eggs and Vanilla

Add the eggs and vanilla. I like to crack the eggs into a separate bowl first, to avoid inadvertently adding any shell fragments to the batter.

Horizontal image of a light yellow batter in a metal bowl on a wooden cutting board.

Beat on medium-high speed until everything is just combined, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Don’t overmix.

Set aside.

Step 3 – Sift Dry Ingredients

Horizontal image of a white bowl filled with sifted dry ingredients on a wooden cutting board.

In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Step 4 – Combine Mixtures

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 3 additions, beating on low speed after each addition.

Horizontal image of a thick, light yellow batter in a metal bowl on a wooden cutting board.

Add the milk, zest, and lemon juice. Mix on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds. You should see the zest equally spread throughout the batter.

Step 5 – Portion Batter

Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cups, filling them about 2/3 full.

Horizontal image of light yellow batter portioned in a muffin pan.

Use an ice cream scoop or soup ladle for even distribution.

Step 6 – Bake and Cool

Bake for about 18-22 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the middle will come out clean when the magdalenas are done.

Horizontal image of a stack of round, light yellow, small baked goods on a white plate on a white napkin.

Remove from the oven and transfer muffins to a cooling rack. Serve warm, or allow to cool completely before storing.

Can’t Get Enough Lemony Goodness?

If you want to convert this breakfast treat into a dessert delight, top your magdalenas with a sweet citrus glaze. Whisk together confectioners’ sugar and milk until the consistency is to your liking, and then stir in about a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.

Let them cool completely, then drip the glaze onto the center of the top of each until it reaches the edges.

Horizontal image of scattered small, yellow, round baked goods on a wooden cutting board and on a white plate next to a white napkin.

I like to pop them back in the fridge before serving for about 20 minutes, so the glaze hardens just a bit.

A homemade spiced glaze also pairs well with this recipe.

How was your Sunday brunch? Did these delectable magdalenas show up on the table? Let us know in the comments below, and rate the recipe once you’ve tried it as well. We love your feedback.

Looking for even more delicious muffins to enjoy for breakfast? Try these next:

Photos by Katherine D’Costa, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Eddie & Katherine D'Costa

Eddie and Katherine D’Costa are a married professional chef and journalist duo from Atlanta, where they cook up a variety of international dishes, tested for the home cook. Katherine holds an MA in journalism from Northeastern University and Eddie’s professional experience spans 20 years working with Wolfgang Puck, Jean George Vongerichten, and Todd English.

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