Monday, October 29, 2007
Corn Muffins with Minute Maid Sauce
I’m back and recovering from the bachelorette party to end all bachelorette parties, which you’ll be hearing about shortly. I need to collect my thoughts and my pictures and decide which of the 197 photographs of wine bottles, rum cocktails, bags of cookies, plates of eggs, boxes of pizza, etc., etc., etc. to share. There was consumption, and there was lots of it.
First I’ll share about a baking project I took on last week. Getting married has its perks, what with the union of two souls and all that fun stuff, but let me tell you about the amazingness that is registering for gifts. You see, you just list things that you want and then people buy them for you, which makes me insanely happy and a bit uncomfortable all at once. The generosity of people, it is incredible. We actually have glasses and bakeware and decorative vases and bowls now—like grown-ups!
I wanted to put our brand new toys to work so I decided to make lemony corn muffins, starring my brand new microplane zester and muffin tins with removable silicone cups. Corn muffins are Jeff's and my favorite, and the original plan was to fruit them up with blueberries. I was all excited to take pictures of me skillfully dredging the blueberries in flour before I added them to the batter, to make sure they would suspend in the middle of each muffin rather than sinking to the bottom. Alas, blueberries were $7/box at the corner market, and even we don’t like them that much. A Google of “lemon” and “corn muffin” (because I didn’t want the 2 lemons to go to waste) yielded this recipe.
In my world, baking is simple because if you follow the recipe precisely, your end result will come out well. End of story. People tell me this isn’t true and that rock-hard cookies and soupy cakes happen even to the most diligent baker, but I really don’t believe them. Maybe it’s dumb luck and my uneducated palate thinks anything sweet and bready can’t be all that bad, but I’m going to run with the notion that my OCD-must-measure-everything kitchen tendencies make me a naturally pretty decent baker. I’m never nervous when making dessert, which is worlds away from all of my second guessing while cooking.
Do you have any idea how much easier it is to zest a lemon with a proper tool rather than a cheese grater? Our apartment sees a good share of desserts with citrus zest (lemon bars and orange-cranberry biscotti are some greatest hits), and I normally spend a looooong time furiously grating fruit along a standing grater, usually catching my knuckles in the process, and then having to scrape off globs of lemon zest and pith with a fork from the grater’s holes. My microplane made curlicues of lemon peel fall from the fruit with the greatest of ease, in seconds. Seconds! Look how lovely and precise these bits of zest are!
After mixing my wet ingredients with my dry, I poured the batter into the silicone cups that came with our new muffin tins.
The room filled bright with the smell of lemony goodness after 15 minutes of baking, and the muffins emerged a golden brown and slid like a dream from these wondercups. Hooray for not having to use Pam or ever more butter.
These muffins were dense and a bit crumbly, no light-as-air fluffiness – perfect, because these are muffins, damnit, not cupcakes. That being said, the lemon and sugar combo made these a little bit sweet for the traditional muffin category, even though I did cut back a bit on the ½ cup of requested sugar. But that might have had more to do with the “glaze” that I spooned over each muffin and then drizzled artfully on the plate –- 2 cups of powdered sugar and the juice of two lemons.
Tasty? Yes. But more of a lemonade sauce than a delicate, nuanced topping. Sometimes just a plain old corn muffin will do. The next time I bake these I think I’ll go the more rustic route – I’m going to look for a recipe with less sugar and more, well, corniness. A savory cornbread in muffin form is my ideal. I’m thinking actual corn kernels mixed in and maybe a hint of sharp cheese? I'll report back soon.
Iced Lemon Corn Muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup whole milk
2 large egg yolks
1 whole large egg
Juice and zest of two lemons
2 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 400°F and line 15 (1/3-cup) muffin cups with liners, dividing evenly between 2 pans (muffins cook more evenly with empty cups among them).
Whisk together flour, cornmeal, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, and zest in a large bowl. Whisk together butter, milk, yolks, and whole egg and stir into flour mixture until just combined. Divide batter evenly among cups (each cup will be about three fourths full).
Bake in middle of oven (or upper and lower thirds if necessary) 15 minutes or until tops are golden and a tester comes out clean. Remove muffins from pans, cool 5 minutes, and ice. Serve warm.
Icing: Whisk zest, juice, and sugar together. Spoon gently onto warm muffins; drizzle remainder on serving plates.
Makes 15 muffins.
(Recipe adapted from Epicurious.com)