Raiding the larder of ideas.

What one family eats, plans to eat, dreams of eating. Plus, other food and kitchen-related stuff from the home of steak-and-potatoes, pie and fresh green beans from the garden.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Muffin Doin': cornmeal muffins

My young friend Asteroidae has, for the past couple weeks, been asking to make some muffins. (I guess I shouldn't have left the bright red silicone muffin pan on the table all this time, after using it to sort items for a Christmas project. It's too big a reminder.) Too often, when she arrives here after school, there is not quite enough time to do a serious project after she finishes with her homework, so her disappointment had been building. Finally, this time, we managed to work a little muffin up in the schedule…

At any rate, our households also have a serious weakness for cornbread, cornmeal, polenta, and the occasional bowl of grits, so we combined the two cravings into one solution. Today, we make cornbread muffins. And we make them blue.

If you don't have any blue cornmeal in your refrigerator (and, seriously, if you have it, it should be chilled unless you just bought it this afternoon), any other good quality cornmeal or non-quick-polenta will do, but the blue cornmeal lends its own subtle flavor to the bread. (If you are serious about making this gluten-free, though, remember to check the labels of your ingredients, first, to see that they are clearly marked as GF. Many corn flours and cornmeals are processed alongside wheat and other gluten sources, and cross-contamination may occur. I find Bob's Red Mill is always reliable.)

Also, a good gelatin-free, plain Greek yogurt is best, so check the ingredients in your preferred brand. I like the house brand from Aldi, but you may prefer somebody else's best (if you have none at all, skip it and raise the amount of buttermilk to 2 cups).

These muffins freeze fairly well, and can be stored in an aritight container for about two days – reheat to serve.

Beyond that, the real goal is to have a good time making muffins from maize.

Cornmeal Muffins* †


2 cups corn flour (masa harina)
1 1/2 cups corn meal (preferably blue)
4 Tablespoons sugar or honey
5 Tablespoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
5-8 Tablespoons butter for pan(s)
4 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2/3 cups Greek yogurt, plain
1/2 cup melted butter


Arrange racks in oven to accommodate two standard-sized 12-muffin tins, with as little overlap as possible. Preheat oven to 400ยบ F.

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients together, set aside.

Put a dot of butter (about 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon) into each cup of the muffin tins. Place in oven to melt butter and heat the tins. When the butter is melted, swirl it around so it covers the bottoms of the cups.

In a medium bowl, mix eggs, buttermilk, yogurt and 1/2 cup melted butter. Add into dry mixture all at once and stir until moistened (do NOT overmix – it should still be a little lumpy).

Scoop by 1/4 cup into the muffin tins, bake 11-15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.

Makes 2 dozen.

*You can make this into a standard corn cake in two cast-iron frying pans, other heavy-duty round pans, or a 12x16x2 cake pan, by reducing the amount of butter to be put into the pan by about half (about 2-3 Tablespoons per round pan, or about 4-5 per rectangle), and then by baking for 15-22 minutes.

†Update: If, for the sake of portion control, you want to make mini-muffins (as pictured below, using regular cornmeal – I made these much later, under the watchful eye of Asteroidae's younger brother, Ilex), this recipe will make about 4 dozen. Treat the same as regular muffins, but bake only 8 minutes, or until lightly golden-browned. Serve warm – with more butter, if you feel like living the decadent life.

They just look so darned cheerful, all in a row, don't they?

We like our cornbread accompanied by butter and a bowl of soup or chili.

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