American Style Cornbread Muffins

I had a hankering for something savoury after all my cake baking and have recently been reading into American cooking. While I wasn’t inspired by anything in Jamie Oliver’s cook book (Jamie’s America), it did remind me of my Food Safari cook book. These muffins were featured in the USA section and described as “going well with collard greens or gumbo”. They were beautiful warm from the oven and travelled well to lunch the next day. As well as being delicious and moist, they were dead easy to throw together at the end of a long Wednesday evening.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup polenta
  • 1½ cup self raising flour
  • ½ cup castor sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of creamed corn
  • 1 cup sour cream

Method:

Mix together the polenta, self-raising flour, sugar, salt, melted butter and eggs. This mixture will come together until it starts to gather like a ball. I melted my butter as I was using it straight out of the fridge. For this recipe, I think that is the ideal way to use it, though it wasn’t specified.

Add creamed corn and sour cream. Mix until you get a nice creamy consistency. At this point the mixture became very wet and sticky, and I was not game to spoon it into my muffin tray without lining it. Tasting the batter at this point, I was concerned at how sweet it was, so I added roughly half a cup of parmesan cheese topping to boost the savoury content.

As you can see here, I have used a mixture of silicone moulds and paper liners (in red, white and blue!). I also put one muffin straight into the tin, so see if it would come out cleanly. It was a Wednesday night – I certainly wasn’t going to stay up scrubbing!

Now bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown in color. I found they needed about 20 minutes and I had to switch the trays around to make sure they were evenly browned. But they all looked great in the end.

As you can see, the ‘naked’ muffin came out just fine being greased only, so I could have made them without paper liners after all, but I like the festive American colours of the liners, for this occasion at least.

Sit them in the tray for 5 – 10 minutes, until they are cool enough to remove from the tray. I took them out after about 5 minutes – as soon as I could, bearing in mind that they will keep cooking with residual heat while in the pan.

They were beautiful and fluffy but strangely sweet. I did think the amount of sugar was very high for a savoury ‘bread’ to be eaten with lunch or dinner, but I went with it, curious to see what the outcome would be. The result is a strangely sweet and savoury muffin, straddling both categories surprisingly well. I think that this combination of sweet and savoury in a dish is something uniquely American (to my mind anyway – think Pumpkin or Sweet Potato Pie, bacon crumble on top of cupcakes). Most breads and muffins in Australia are most definitely sweet (chocolate muffins) or clearly savoury (English muffins or plain sliced bread).

Even with the addition of the parmesan cheese the muffins were a lot sweeter than I had expected, but the sweetness worked well with the corn. I think these were lovely as they were and would go perfectly at a picnic or bring-a-plate event however, next  time I make these I will be halving the sugar and making up the weight with grated chedder cheese; I personally love the combination of cheese and corn!

Alternatively, these are a beautiful base for great muffins and I think you could replace the can of creamed corn with the equivalent in tinned apples, pears or peaches without changing anything else. Either way, you should definitely whip a batch of these up for your next picnic or Sunday lunch.

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