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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Corn Muffins Revisited

It seems sometimes that different events come together all at once. I've been having something of a craving for cornbread lately - no doubt more of my Autumn wishful thinking. So, as I was browsing through the cookbook from Mary Mac's Tea Room, the recipe for cornbread caught my eye. Of course, it's a bit "Yankeefied" for my taste (meaning it has sugar and is sweet) but I filed it away as a possible trial for the future. Then I got a call from Karin at "Feeding the Homeless" asking if I could make some cornbread to go with her meal this week. So, I pulled out the recipe from Mary Mac's and gave it a try.

Then my issue of Cook's Country came with a recipe for cornbread muffins made with yeast. That looked pretty interesting although it also struck me as Yankeefied (they're from Massachusetts) with its copious amount of brown sugar. Still, the texture was intriguing. It was described as something like an English muffin on the inside.

Now, I'm assuming the folks up at Cook's Country are unaware of real Southern Cornbread made without sugar and also without a "cakey" texture that seems to be their main complaint with corn muffins. (See my original recipe here.) Maybe they've only had cornbread at those chain restaurants that claim "home cooking" - I can't say. But real Southern Cornbread is not sweet and neither is it cakey.

Anyway, I decided to try the recipe to see what it produced. It is a great recipe. The cornbread is nicely textured with just a little sweetness that will keep the Yankees in the crowd happy. Honestly, though, you can get similar result by using Mary Mac's "Yankeefied" recipe or dropping a couple tablespoons of sugar into a classic Southern Cornbread recipe. Plus you don't have to wait on the bread to rise. So, while it's a great recipe, as Mama would say "Six of one, half a dozen of the other." Meaning of course, that there is no real discernible advantage of using the yeast when stacked up against the real deal from the South.

Try them both and be the judge!

Yeast Corn Bread (Cook's Country)

1 cup whole or lowfat milk, heated to 110°
4 tbs. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 1/2 tsp. rapid rise or instant yeast
1 large egg
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white cornmeal
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. salt

Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 200°. When oven reaches 200°, turn it off. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin.

Whisk together milk, butter and yeast in bowl until yeast dissolves. Whisk in egg. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix 1/2 cup flour, cornmeal, brown sugar and salt until combined. With mixer on low speed, add milk mixture in steady stream until dough comes together (about 1 minute). Gradually add remaining flour until incorporated. Increase speed to medium high and beat until batter is smooth and elastic (about 3 minutes).

Using a great 1/4 cup measure, scoop batter into muffin cups. Cover loosely with greased sheet of plastic wrap and place in warmed oven until batter reaches tops of muffin cups, about 1 hour.

Remove muffin tin from oven and heat oven to 375°. Discard plastic and bake muffins until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Cool in tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack. Serve warm. (Muffins may be stored in airtight container for up to 3 days.)



John Ferrell's Cornbread Muffins (Mary Mac's Tea Room)

1/4 cup corn oil
1 1/2 cups white cornmeal plus 1 tbs. for pan
1/4 cup self-rising flour
1 tbs. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 400°. Grease 12-cup muffin tin and sprinkle bottom of each cup with a bit of cornmeal (to prevent sticking).

Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in large bowl and whisk together. Mix together buttermilk, corn oil and egg in small bowl. Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and stir just until combined. Be careful not to overstir the mixture.

Pour batter into muffin tins and bake at 400° for about 18-20 minutes or just until edges of muffins begin to brown. Serve while warm.

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