High Altitude Baking: Cornmeal muffins (recipe)
September 16, 2016
Editor's note: High altitudes makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.
Cornmeal muffins — always tasty, always a treat. These savory little guys are one of my favorites; real corn kernels add texture and dill intensifies flavor in a batter made more complex by sour cream and tangy yogurt. Serve them with soup or a salad for lunch, or as part of a bread basket for dinner. I often double the recipe, freeze some, and have a quick way to elevate any meal.
The secrets to their success are to stir lightly and as little as possible when combining the wet and dry ingredients, and to serve them warm. For more whole-grain goodness and a slightly nutty flavor, substitute white whole wheat flour for up to half of the all-purpose flour.
CORNMEAL MINI MUFFINS WITH CORN KERNELS
Makes 12 two-inch muffins
Adjusted for altitudes of 8,000 feet and above
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½ cup bleached all-purpose flour (spoon and level)
3 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar, preferably Baker's
¾ teaspoon baking powder
Generous ¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup sour cream (light is fine)
¼ cup plain yogurt (fat-free is fine)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen (defrost and pat dry if frozen)
1 tablespoon fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dry dill
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the center position. Line the mini muffin pan with paper liners and grease the liners with a flour-vegetable oil spray (I know, that sounds like overkill, but baked goods stick at our altitude). Set aside.
2. Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a small bowl or 2-cup measure and whisk vigorously to combine. Set aside. Whisk the sour cream, yogurt and egg in a medium-sized mixing bowl until blended. Add the melted butter and whisk again. Add the dry ingredients, all at once, and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon only until all dry ingredients are incorporated in the batter; the batter won't be smooth. Gently stir in the corn kernels and dill until distributed evenly.
3. Spoon the batter into paper liners, filling them between two-thirds and three-fourths of the way to the top. If needed, smooth the tops. Bake until the muffins rise, set and are colored lightly (12-15 minutes). Remove the pan to a rack and, as soon as possible, remove the muffins, (in their paper liners), from the pan to the rack to cool. They can be served when they're still slightly warm, or cooled completely, covered and re-warmed in a 325-degree oven. If you're not serving them on the day they're made, freeze them, double wrapped, for up to a month.
This is a variation of a recipe from Bon Appetit Magazine.
Vera Dawson instructs classes on high-altitude baking and is the author of the high-altitude cookbooks, "Cookies in the Clouds" and "Baking Above It All" (available at The Bookworm in Edwards and Next Page Bookstore in Frisco). Her recipes have been tested in her Summit County kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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