Maple Cornbread Muffins

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This is a recipe that I found via Pinterest from Yesterfood, which I’d pinned awhile back.  When I was looking through my recipes a few days ago and found the one for Banana Nut Bread, I also found this one again, along with another recipe for fried chicken.  I thought I’d make these muffins with the friend chicken and make a whole dinner out of it, which I did yesterday.

Being a southerner, I’m no stranger to cornbread, and while I’ve eaten cornbread muffins, I had never made them before.  We just always make our typical cornbread here at the house.  Maple though is not a southern staple, since it comes from the far and cold north, but this is not a strange thing to me because my maternal aunt spent the better part of her life living in Montreal, Quebec and would always bring large cans of Canadian maple syrup on her jaunts down to see us.

So, of course I would want to make this, since it’s a marriage between different aspects of my own personal life.

 

 

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Ingredients

 

  • 1 C Flour, sifted
  • 1 C Cornmeal
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 C Milk
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 1/4 C Maple Syrup (real)
  • 2 Tbs Butter, melted (slightly cooled, for batter)
  • 3 Tbs Butter (for muffin pan)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Put a generous 1/4 Tbs of butter into each of the 12 muffin cups and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together and then sift.  In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, syrup, and melted butter.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  The mixture will be somewhat thin and contain small lumps.  Let the mixture sit one minute before filling the muffin cups.

Place the buttered muffin pan into the hot oven just long enough to melt the butter, about one minute.  Remove the pan from the oven and very carefully swirl the pan so that the melted butter comes up the sides of the cups somewhat.

Evenly divide the mix between the cups, filling about 3/4 full.  Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool on a metal rack for five minutes, then remove muffins onto wire rack to continue cooling.  Serve with maple butter, if desired.

Maple Butter:  Mix 6 Tbs softened butter with 2 Tbs of maple syrup until smooth and creamy.

 

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Pats of butter in the muffin tins.

I don’t keep going on about all of my super swell vintage and retro cookery items to seem cool.  I point them out so that you know that you don’t need anything new and fancy, if you don’t want do purchase those things.  Also, some of these items make a difference, as in this recipe.

The original posters photo shows muffins that look like beautiful honey.  It’s because she has a shiny new muffin pan.  I’m not knocking it, but if you simply have to have honey coloured baked goods, then you should spring for new and shiny pans and trays.  I, however, prefer the juxtaposition between a deep, dark crust and a lighter interior on my baked goods.  I don’t achieve this any other way than having old pans, or occasionally burning my baked goods, but that’s a whole different arena, and is not what has happened with these muffins.

The above photo is of the only muffin pan that we own, which is what my maternal grandmother had been using since the 1940s.  It’s not dirty (though it looks it), but it is well seasoned, which in a way I suppose does mean it’s dirty in a sense; but a clean dirty.  My muffins, as you could see from the featured image, have a very dark crust, and this is why.  It’s the same effect that my cornbread has after being cooked in one of my cast iron skillets.

So, have shiny pans in your baking arsenal… or don’t.  It’s completely up to you, but southerners tend to be of the mind set, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”, which essentially means, if this muffin pan still works (doesn’t have holes and continues to cook food well), then why replace it?  And depending upon where you live, you can find old cookery items like this for super cheap at a yard sale.  I’ve seen them range between a quarter and a dollar for various pans and trays and the like.  Although it’s more dear if it did happen to belong to a loved relative, so if you come into possession of these items, just know that you don’t have to toss them because you think they might be too old to do anything.

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The Sift & Whisk

The initial point of the recipe only calls for sifted flour, and then to sift everything once it’s together, however, I figured I’d err on the side of safety with this recipe.  Most flours in your grocery store are pre-sifted, though I’m not sure how far this extends.  We always buy the cheapest flour (unless I’m making a cake from scratch, which is hardly ever, but I’d like to delve more into that… or if I’m baking bread… again same thing) and one recipe called for sifting the flour, which I didn’t do and for an easy recipe that I could have made with my eyes closed, well… it was pretty tantamount to disaster.  So, if it says to sift your flour, you should probably go ahead and do that.

Also, I needed to sift because our baking powder isn’t really powder anymore.  It’s still fine and will do it’s job in a recipe no problem, but ours does need to be pushed through a sifter of some sort.  If yours is also this way, just jab something dull and hard in there to break it up, but something that won’t jab through the cardboard container its in; like the handle end of a spoon works fine.  And just remember to push it through a sifter, as getting a big chunk of baking powder in your mouth while eating a baked good is really gross.

I’m going to mention our very ancient (actually it’s just from the seventies, though you wouldn’t know it to look at it!) sifter which is pictured above.  You really don’t want rust on the interior of a sifter, however, this is the one that my parents purchased right after they were married; which they refuse to give up or to replace.  I will say that it doesn’t flake off in the food and doesn’t react with anything we make involving flour so it’s fine enough since I can’t go out and get a different one, but still this should be avoided if there’s rust on the interior (exterior is OK).

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>>www.leaf.tv

Also, my dad does a lot of deep frying and has to have mesh strainers (to strain the oil for re-use), so we always have at least two in the house at once.  Washed in a dishwasher they don’t retain grease.  The hole sizes of the wire mesh are pretty standard and are the same (or there-abouts) to a flour sifter.  He has a large one and a small one.  I have used the large one on several occasions to sift flour.  You just lightly bang the strainer against the palm of your hand as shown in the above photo.  He has as smaller one that I always use for sifting out confectioners sugar onto beignets or whatever else needs a topping of it.

 

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Melting butter

So, prior to adding the melted butter into the liquid ingredients, you must first actually melt the butter.  So, here’s a bit of my life!  Our slightly janky hob with the oven set to 400.  I say janky because, well, the burners keep fritzing out and that indicator light should be red, but it’s broken.  You learn to do, and 80-90% of the time we can fanangle our way around the burners to do what we need to do.  But, so, our white electric range/oven where all of this food magic will be happening.

Also, that is a super nice and fancy copper (very something the French would have) melty pourer thing.  Thank you for noticing!  It was free and very much appreciated because we use it all the time.  We don’t have a microwave, but if you do you can just nuke some butter in it.  But, on the range just use whatever you have that can withstand heat.  It doesn’t even have to have a pour spout to be the perfect thing to melt butter in.

 

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Whisking the liquids

Next you’ll whip up that lone egg and then add the other liquids and whisk it all together.  The original poster of this recipe made sure to note (twice, in fact) that you are to use only real maple syrup.  It is, and also isn’t, important.  There are certain things where if it’s the substituted version or a lesser quality, it will really kill your baked good or savoury dish.  And that’s not the epic kind of kill with a good connotation.

There’s different things for different reasons and times.  Sometimes it’s OK to make a quick sub for buttermilk and your dish will be just fine; other times it’ll ruin it as it depends on whether the buttermilk will be the leading lady or merely the quirky side-kick.  And we’d probably fight all day about butter vs margarine, because I’ll always side with butter.  But I realize that people want to worry about health facts and I really just want it to taste phenomenal.  But depending upon the recipe, sometimes butter is not the thing to go in it (certain cookies as your dough won’t work properly), while other times margarine will do very strange things with the food.

With honey, I can see the boost for real versus fake, as real (locally produced) honey can help you build up a resistance to local pollens, and the fake stuff is some weird monster hybrid of who even knows what.  Plus, honey is harvested everywhere, so it’s not all that difficult to find or expensive to purchase.

Maple syrup though is an entirely different ball game.  If you don’t live in the very small region where its harvested and made, then it will cost a pretty penny for such a miniscule size.  My dad loves Sam’s Club, so we’re lucky enough to have a membership and that they sell the large size for about $9, which is actually a very good price for real maple syrup in the deep south.  Normally it’s about that price for three tablespoons worth (or something like it), when found in the grocery store.

So, I’m not up on lesser or fake maple syrup varieties, but I think that using that would probably be OK, if you simply can’t find it in your area or if its exceedingly expensive.  However, if you can find the real stuff, I’ll always suggest using that.

 

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The Add & Rest

Now we’re to the part where you add your liquid ingredients into your dry, mix just until combined (because you don’t want to over mix), and then let it rest for one minute.  I’m showing the whisk in the finished mix, but you should take that out to let it rest.

 

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The Melt & Fill

So, I did put the muffin pan in the oven for one minute, however, I didn’t do the gentle swirl, as I did not think that it was needed.  Gravity or physics and all that, but I already knew that the weight of the mix would sink into the butter and push it aside; thus doing this step for me in one fell swoop.  As you can see from the right photo, the mix is pretty much swimming in butter, which is what you want so that you’ll get a nice buttery crust on the outside of the muffins.  So, what I’m saying is that you can skip that step and just plop some mix down into the melted butter.  Easy peasy!

 

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The Bake & Eat (my favourite part!)

And you’ll go ahead and bake these for 20 minutes.  I did cool mine on the rack for five minutes, but I did not pop them out and let them continue to cool on the rack out of the pan.  This was pretty much just an error in copying the recipe down, and I neglected to add that part, so I just left them in for a bit and then turned them out.  They were fine, so continue to cool on rack or in the pan; you decide!

If you used enough butter, these babies practically jump right out of the pan, which is fantastic, because I am completely flummoxed when a baked good sticks, and I have to try and figure out the equation of what went wrong.

 

Now we get to talk about taste!  So, these came out looking like mini version of my cornbread (which I bake in a cast iron skillet), with a golden yellow top and interior with that dark crust on the sides and bottom.  Which, I like that look in a cornbread, so I was pleased.  They tasted amazing!  Do you know why?  Because of the deep and crunchy buttery crusted with the soft warm insides.  It was the crust man, it’s heaven every time.

I couldn’t really taste maple in these, though the insides had a slightly different, but pleasant taste to my traditional cornbread, but they didn’t taste how I had imagined.  Ya know, more maple syrupy or something.

Now, I will say that not all cornbreads are created equally.  Everyone all over the south; whether they’re white, black, or Hispanic all have their different preparations.  We, personally, add a bit of sugar to ours because that’s how my Arkansasan grandparents made it.  But, a lot of southerners will say that it’s basically some sort of sin to add sugar to cornbread.  So, perhaps that is why this was very similar to what I already make.  However, if you’re not a sugar addin’ cornbread maker, these will taste completely different to what you’re used to… or perhaps you don’t even make cornbread, then this will be something new.

These were a big hit, as everyone thoroughly enjoyed them.  My dad however, ate half of them mushed up in some buttermilk.  Considering that I’d added for real REAL maple syrup, these were not the drinkin’ in buttermilk kind.  Upon finding that they were all gone this morning I did exclaim, “Daaad!  That’s the thing for regular cornbread, not fancy cornbread!”

The maple butter went over well too.  I didn’t write down the measurements on my paper, so I just took a little butter and added even less maple syrup and taste tested the whole thing and adjusted as needed, which didn’t take long.  I probably made 1/3 of her recipe for the butter, because I didn’t know if we’d like it or not, but we did and there is still some left over.

Measurements:

* C = cup

* tsp = teaspoon

* Tbs = tablespoon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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