Monday, February 17, 2014

Cornbread Muffin Cookoff--The Joy of Experimentation

So half of the folks at work have sworn off sugar, and since we have a small staff this leaves me and three or four other people to eat any goodies I bring in! So for the birthday of one of these sugar avoiding coworkers, I have made cornbread muffins. It was such a quick process that I decided to make a second batch following a different recipe, so I could see which were better.

Cornbread recipes are a dime a dozen, so I am consulting two of my most authoritative cookbooks, The Joy of Cooking  and The Best Light Recipes, from the American Test kitchen, the ones with the most information about the recipes and guidelines about how to create it right. The first I'm blogging about is The Joy of Cooking, which offers a list of ways to modify the basic recipe with different additions. One thing I've learned from reading these two recipes is that cornbread is very regional, with two main camps the southern cornbread (which is just cornmeal and no flour, and traditionally is made in a cast iron skillet) and the northern cornbread, which has flour and cornmeal. I'm making one of each kind--so they may not compare directly across.

Cornbread muffinsIngredients:
1 1/4 c yellow cornmeal
3/4 c all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp stevia cooking blend
3/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
2 tbs butter
1 cup milk
Add ins:
1/2 c grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 green onions
2 cloves of garlic grated
1 tsp chipotle seeded, rinsed and chopped fine.

Cornbread muffinsCornbread muffinsPre-heat the oven to 425 degrees, and spray the muffin tin with cooking spray. Melt the butter in the microwave and set aside to cool. Whisk together the dry ingredients and the cheese in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl mix the egg, milk, butter and wet add ins. In this case, I used onions, garlic, and chipolte, and a good crack of black pepper. The book has a long list of different things that might be added to change the flavor profile, and actually suggests a much larger amount of chipolte, but I'm not sure how spicy my coworkers like things!

Cornbread muffinsCornbread muffinsThe wet ingredients are combined with the dry ingredients just barely--the book says with just a few rapid strokes. This is a thick and chunky batter, and needs to be scooped into the dish rather than poured. Smooth over the tops, because it doesn't spread and will come out the way it goes in!

Cornbread muffinsCornbread muffins They bake in the 425 degree oven for 15-18 minutes or until nicely browned--though I found the tops were less browned than the bottoms.

 The Verdict: There is a nice crunch on the outside, with a creamy soft inside. The flavors are not overpowering the sweetness of the corn, and there is a definite muffin consistency to them. You can taste the flour in a surprising way. They are good by themselves, but are best with butter or with a main dish. I ate mine hot out of the oven with a hash made up of leftover picadillio, zucchini, mushrooms, and roasted red pepper.

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