So much has happened in the past four months – we’ve been to Norway, Sweden and Iceland (again), we’re finally feeling settled in our new apartment, and my little sister got married. All the while, I’ve been cooking, baking and trying new recipes, and enjoying some of our favorite standbys, just doing a horrible job of sharing. When I last left, it was the hight of summer, strawberry season was winding down and there was all sorts of wonderful summer produce to look forward to. The fall has finally settled in here, and soup, stew and chili season is in full swing in our house, so I’m returning from my posting hiatus with these perfect corn muffins to start the season off right.
Mike is a huge chili fan so I make it fairly often when it’s cold and these corn muffins are amazing alongside a piping bowl. As the title suggests, these are the perfect corn muffins. They’re light, springy, buttery, just slightly sweet, with an oh so moist crumb that doesn’t leave you piling on chili or running for a beverage of choice to choke them down. The secret to the moist crumb is all in the microwave pre-cooking process (which I assure to is less of a pain in the ass than it sounds). The heating process allows the starch granules to absorb more liquid – like polenta – locking in moisture.
Perfect Corn MuffinsAdapted slightly from Cooks Illustrated and Smitten Kitchen Makes 12 muffins Cooks Illustrated recommends using Arrowhead Mills Organic Yellow Cornmeal, however I used cornmeal from a local mill. They also warn against using a coarse ground (like polenta) or white cornmeal since it will affect the texture. The original CI recipe calls for only 3 tablespoons of sugar but like Smitten, I also prefer these slightly sweeter. Also, we thought these re-heated quite well, but with some quick math the recipe easily be cut in half if you don’t want to make all 12 muffins. 2 cups (10 ounces) cornmeal
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 cup sour cream
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Grease 12-cup muffin tin. Whisk 1 1/2 cups cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside.
Combine milk and remaining 1/2 cup cornmeal in large bowl. Microwave milk-cornmeal mixture for 1 1/2 minutes. Whisk thoroughly and continue to microwave, whisking every 30 seconds, until thickened to batter-like consistency – the whisk will leave channel in bottom of bowl that slowly fills in kind of like pancake batter; 1 to 3 minutes longer. Whisk in sour cream, melted butter, and sugar until combined. Whisk in eggs until combined. Fold in flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Using portion scoop or large spoon, divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups (about 1/2 cup batter per cup; batter will mound slightly above rim).
Bake until tops are golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 13 to 17 minutes, rotating muffin tin halfway through baking. Let muffins cool in muffin tin on wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from muffin tin and let cool 5 minutes longer.
Serve warm with a nice bowl of chili or a hearty soup.