Monday, July 4, 2011

Cornbread Muffins

The wholesome texture of cornbread embodies home cooking. Whip up a batch of cornbread muffins to go with any dish and the whole meal immediately feels 'made from scratch'. These muffins can be made savory or sweet, spicy or mild: whatever you're in the mood for.

Purists (including my Southern mother) use a cast-iron skillet, which produces a crispy crust and makes the bread perfect for crumbling into chilli or stew. I like to make cornbread in a muffin tin so I can pile a steaming platter of the golden bread in the center of the table and let everyone help themselves. I also add a little plain yogurt to the mixture, making the muffins more moist than the crumbly cornbread you may have tried in the past, and adding a little more zing to bring out the tartness of the buttermilk.

I've listed some suggested variations of this basic recipe at the end of this post. If you're cooking gluten-free, substitute 1/2 cup gluten-free flour for the 1/2 cup flour.

Cornbread Muffins

makes 1 dozen

1 1/2 cups cornmeal (I like to use yellow cornmeal, but white will do, too)
1/2 cup flour (substitute 1/2 cup gluten-free flour if cooking gluten-free)
1 tblsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk (if you don't have buttermilk on hand, just add about a tsp of white vinegar to the measuring cup, then pour in 1 cup of milk, and let it sit for 5 minutes)
2 tblsp plain low-fat yogurt
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Combine the dry ingredients.  Make a well in the center, and add the eggs, milk, yogurt, and oil.  Whisk it all together just until combined.  Pour into a 12-cup greased or lined muffin tin (or into a greased 9 x 9 inch baking pan).  Bake at 400 F/ 200 C for 18-20 minutes, until risen and just turning golden brown on top.


Jalepeno Cheesy Cornbread Muffins
Add 1 or 2 seeded and chopped jalepenos (depending on how much heat you can handle), 1/4 tsp hot sauce (Tobasco), and 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese to the liquid ingredients.  Proceed as directed.

Sweet Cornbread Muffins
Instead of 2 tblsp sugar, add 6 tblsp sugar to the dry ingredients, and proceed as directed. These are especially good served with butter and honey.

Rosemary Parmesan Cornbread Muffins
Add 1 tsp dried rosemary, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, and 1/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan to the dry ingredients.  Proceed as directed.

Cornbread Veggie Muffins
After you've mixed the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, fold in 1/2 cup canned corn, 1 small shredded zucchini (courgette), and half of a finely chopped red bell pepper.  Proceed as directed.

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