Daily Archives: June 4, 2008

A casualty of Big Bertha

Crunchy Whole Grain Corn Muffins 2

If what you really want is a way to spend more time with the nice TSA folks the next time you travel by air – if all that removing and rearranging and Ziplocbagging and patting and puttingbackon isn’t enough – I have a suggestion: Pack an ancient cast-iron muffin pan in your carry-on luggage.

I inherited one when I was in Boise. It belonged to my mother’s mother, Merle, who used it for popovers.

It’s certainly dainty-looking, with those cute petal-shaped cutouts on the edge, but I have trouble picking it up with one hand. We’re calling her Big Bertha.

While her twin stayed asleep in my mother’s baking drawer, I swaddled Big Bertha in my yoga pants, rust and all, and crammed her into my roll-aboard for a long-term stay in Seattle.

pan made in the USA

Sure enough, the agents at Boise International were on point. She was spotted in the X-ray machine, unearthed, tested, and passed from person to person until they were all yesverycertain that the muffin pan was not a bomb.

I scrubbed the red dust off the inside, and made the homecoming meal any cast-iron pan deserves: Corn muffins.

Only, they’re not everyday corn muffins. They don’t crawl around in your mouth like a napkin, selfishly mopping up every last bit of moisture, like so many corn muffins do. Moistened with sour cream and spiked with a smattering of crunchy whole grains, they have a little more class than the crumbly version, and quite a bit more intrigue.

Now, I’m not one to scorn a box of Jiffy. (That blue-and-white box is a go-to every time chili comes off the stove.)

But for breakfast, on a cool, sunny summer morning, with a smear of butter and a dollop of Anna’s cinnamon creamed honey, these are hard to beat.

muffin pan casualty

Next time, I hope I won’t be so blase about balancing the wet muffin pan on the edge of the sink. Big Bertha takes no prisoners.

Crunchy Whole Grain Corn Muffins (PDF)
In her essential breakfast book, Sunlight Cafe, author Mollie Katzen always mixes the sugar right into the dry ingredients for muffins, and stirs the melted butter in at the end. I’ve adopted her technique, because it saves the time required to cream butter and sugar together. (These muffins really do take 15 minutes to make.) When you pry open your first grain-studded muffin, hot from the oven, consider topping it with a fat slab of salted butter. Drizzle it with creamed honey, for good measure.

For savory muffins, skip the sugar and increase the salt to 1 teaspoon. Stir in a handful of Parmesan cheese, sautéed onions, and/or chopped green chilies, if you’d like.

TIME: 15 minutes active time
MAKES: 8 regular or 12 small muffins

Vegetable oil spray
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup (raw) millet
1/4 cup (raw) quinoa
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with the vegetable oil spray. (The batter will make 11 muffins in an age-old cast-iron pan, or 8 regular or 12 small muffins in a contemporary standard muffin pan.)

Whisk the next nine ingredients, through sugar, together in a large mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk the milk, sour cream and eggs together until well blended and smooth. Stir in the melted butter, then add all the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir until no dry spots remain.

Fill 8 muffin cups almost to the top with batter (or for smaller muffins, fill 12 cups a little less full), and bake for 20 to 25 minutes on the middle rack, or until puffed and barely cracked. (The muffins won’t brown much.) Let cool 5 minutes in pans, then serve warm.

Store cooled leftover muffins in an airtight container. Halve and toast before serving.

Crunchy Whole Grain Corn Muffins 3

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Filed under bread, Breakfast, kitchen adventure, recipe, travel, vegetarian