Sweet Bakery-Style Corn Muffins

15 Jul

There’s this coffee shop at our favorite vacation destination that offers the most amazing blueberry muffins on the planet. You can actually taste the butter in them–I swear. They have this nummy strudel on top and this little crunch when you bite into their ginormous mushroom-style tops, and then the insides are all fluffy and buttery and blueberry-ey, and when I get there early enough in the morning to get one warm from the oven, I just about cry with gratitude.

These muffins are a highlight of my summer vacation, and if you ever tried one, you’d understand why that is not a lame statement of my current mommy-hood and minivan-rocking existence. You know that Most Interesting Man In The World from those beer commercials? That dude would drop everything for one of these muffins.

So you can understand my complete despondence when I arrived at the coffee shop nice and early one day last year to find no blueberry muffins. Like, crap. And since it is a coffee shop, I was then forced to choose an alternative baked good for my breakfast without the benefit of caffeine beforehand.

I’m not a cranberry eater, and I’m not a bran girl (at least in my baked treats), and scones don’t sing the Alleluia Chorus for me first thing in the morning. My choice, therefore, was simple. A corn muffin. In a little paper bag. I could feel its warmness inside as I loped back out the door, shoulders sagging from disappointment.

Sadly, I took a little bite. And the world stopped, just for a moment. Because this little coffee shop that made the best blueberry muffin in the world also–impossibly–had come up with a corn muffin that was sweet and soft and crunchy on top. It was truly more cake than traditional corn muffin.

The sun rose and my day brightened, and I’ve been trying to replicate that same muffin ever since.

Corn muffins are usually a savory thing. They go with chili and tacos and spicy foods. This sweet bakery corn muffin is a hard thing to figure out.

This week, I came pretty darned close. The recipe I settled on (after fiddling) didn’t have the big crown of my coffee shop love (I’m going to try them again with some added baking powder, but my waistline can’t take it quite yet), but it was crunchy on top and sweet and soft inside, and I didn’t finish it wanting to pick bits of cornmeal out of my teeth, which happened a lot while I searched for these muffins.

If I had a bit of advice on corn muffins, it would be this: don’t use cornmeal labeled “grits” or “polenta.” I love Bob’s Red Mill products, but their cornmeal is just too coarse for a soft, sweet muffin, and you don’t get much corn taste from it in this particular application.

That’s my ode to corn muffins. Oddly, my coffee shop hasn’t offered them since that magical morning last summer, at least that I’ve seen. But now I can almost make them at home. And there’s always blueberry on vacation.

Bakery-Style Corn Muffins

1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened (that’s 1/4 cup)

8 tablespoons white sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract (I know. Odd for corn muffins. Go with it.)

1 1/4 cups baking mix (Bisquick works well)

2/3 cup cornmeal

1/4 cup milk

1/2 can cream-style corn (you can freeze the other 1/2 can for next time)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease the top of a 12-cup muffin pan and line the cups with paper liners.

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add eggs and stir well. Add vanilla. To this, add baking mix and cornmeal, alternating with the milk, and then stir in the cream-style corn.

Scoop mixture into muffin tins–I find 1/3 cup in each tin is perfect. Over the top of each muffin, sprinkle a pinch each of granulated sugar and cornmeal (for that crunchy top). Bake 25 minutes, or until golden. Let cool in pans about 10 minutes, and then remove and cool completely.

I kept these for four days and the last were as good as the first.

2 Responses to “Sweet Bakery-Style Corn Muffins”

  1. Lisa July 15, 2010 at 12:51 pm #

    Yum. I love corn muffins. Can’t wait to get off of this diet to be able to try these.

  2. mary m July 19, 2010 at 1:34 am #

    Yummy! I need to get some cornmeal now….

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