Bread of the Month: Feeling fully corny with muffins

Around the end of May, my usual love and admiration for all things corn amped up a bit.

I mean, I’ll put corn in anything, but I took it to an extra corny level as corn season approached, exploring recipes related to my favorite vegetable. Working ahead on my column for Kansas Country Living magazine, I had picked corn as my topic for the August issue, and began perusing a little-perused used cookbook I had purchased a few years’ back called, quite simply, “Corn,” by noted writer Lee Bailey (Clarkson N. Potter; 1993), who in the 1980s and 1990s produced numerous books on cooking, entertaining and good living.

Bailey’s corn book, so tiny, it fit in my “Martha” apron pocket, is chock-full of page after page of delicious corn recipes, from salads to fritters to soups to desserts. I landed on a salad I thought looked good that included butter beans and potatoes — perfect for summer — and made it for my column. It featured a light, lemony dressing, enhanced with fresh chives that only got better in the couple of days the salad lasted.

I was also particularly intrigued by a Coconut and Corn Ice Cream in the book, made with thick, creamy canned coconut milk and sweet corn kernels, fresh off the cob. I made this one, too, and was pleased with a dessert avenue for corn. Many of the recipes in Bailey’s book used uncooked corn, because, truly, good fresh sweet corn is so deliciously sweet, flavorful and juicy, no cooking is really needed.

As was the case for a recipe I found for Corn Kernel Muffins in the book. The muffins were made almost entirely of cornmeal (with a little flour) and a whopping four cups of fresh, uncooked corn kernels. So it would seem these would have very full corn flavor. I took advantage of some really nice seasonal sweet corn I found at my local grocery to give this recipe a try.

The muffins come together similarly as many muffin or cornbread recipes do, beginning with cornmeal (I used yellow, even though the recipe recommended white), a little flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. I also added just a tablespoon or so of sugar for a little extra sweetness.

The muffin batter gets a dose of tanginess from buttermilk added to the dry ingredients. Then beaten eggs are mixed in.

All those sweet, juicy corn kernels, along with some melted butter, are blended in last to make a very corny batter that looked to have a lot of nice texture.

The batter is doled out into greased muffin tins. I ended up with two muffin pans filled.

The recipe has you baking these muffins at 450 degrees. I rarely bake anything above 425, but set my oven at around 430 degrees.The muffins did not raise significantly, and I considered that I could have filled the muffin tins more, but they were nicely golden little mounds, smelling of buttery corn.

They were good, too. With a lot of corn flavor and a slightly crunchy texture. The juicy corn kernels bursting within really added lovely flavor. And the muffins gained moistness from the day they were baked to the next. Those who love their cornbread with a high cornmeal-to-flour ratio would love these muffins, but I would recommended that if you are not a cornmeal fan, you could raise the amount of flour and reduce the cornmeal for these, too, to maybe half-cornmeal and half-flour. 

Corn Kernel Muffins

Adapted from rom “Corn” by Lee Bailey (Clarkson N. Potter: 1993)

Makes about 18 to 24 muffins, depending on size of tins

  • 2 cups white cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar 
  • 3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 to 4 cups fresh corn kernels (scrape the cobs)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees (I used a lower temp…around 430 degrees). Grease two 12-cup muffin tins, set aside. 

Sift together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Lightly stir in the buttermilk and then the eggs. Do not over mix. Add butter and corn. Stir just enough to blend. Fill prepared cups and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. 

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