Cherry cornmeal muffins
Thu, 9 January, 2020
Glace cherry cornmeal muffins made specially for the gluten intolerant but so delightful, you’ll want to bookmark the recipe regardless.
If you want these to be gluten free, use specialist gluten free flour instead of plain. I know – gluten intolerance is a pain. It means reading all labels like the most fascinating crime capers or like you’re studying for A Level Labels. It’s denying yourself golden, fluffy and rich brioche and having an oatcake instead. It’s when your pasta craving has to be satisfied by straight-to-wok rice noodles. It’s telling yourself that you’re baking lemon polenta, almond Santiago cake and flourless brownies only because you fancy them, not because they are gluten free. It means eating rice dishes in a noodle bar. It means no beer.
And it’s not even like the effects of ingesting gluten while intolerant are spectacular or impressive, like a good full-on anaphylactic shock or swelling all over and suffocating. No – it’s burping, gurgling and farting. Not sexy.
Whatever you say about coconut flour, teff, tapioca or cassava, people do not use them for baking because they have a choice and whimsically pick the substances that are smelly, unpleasantly tangy, and impossible to coalesce into dough. They have no choice: wheat or rye does not grow where they live or is far too expensive to afford for daily bread. Thus gluten freedom by choice is not only unnecessary: it makes a mockery of those folks’ lives; of their poverty and the ‘eat what grows’ imperative. There is a reason why wheat, rye and barley have become staples over centuries: they are the best, tastiest and easiest to process.
That is not to say that other grains are worthless, and I certainly wouldn’t say it about corn. It’s a grain which can also be called a vegetable; it gives us flour and a side dish, breakfasts and snacks. Cornmeal or polenta is wonderful in shortcrust pastries, sweet and savoury, and it dredges, coats and crusts as well as wheat flour or crumbs. And corn muffins are unfairly overlooked in the UK – the texture is unparalleled and goes well with both fruit and chocolate. True, you don’t get the muffin top as impressive as the one carried by wheat flour muffins but hey, we can do without it over the paper case as much as over our belts.
I adapted Melissa Clarke’s NY Times recipe cutting down the butter and adding glace cherries – not certain it’s made them healthier… And for my purposes gluten free flour mix goes in instead of plain flour. But if you’re intolerances and allergies free, enjoy them with wheat flour.
cherry cornmeal muffinsServings: makes 9 muffinsTime: 35 minutes
- 115g (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for the muffin tin
- 120g (1 cup) coarse or stone-ground cornmeal (polenta, not quick cook)
- 95g (¾ cup) plain or white gluten free flour
- 80g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
- 2¼ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 12 glace cherries, chopped
- 120ml (½ cup) soured cream (or full fat Greek yoghurt)
- 60ml (¼ cup) whole milk
- 1 large egg
- 3-4 tsp demerara sugar, for sprinkling
1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and let it cool down slightly.
2. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Butter a 12-hole muffin tin.
3. In a large bowl stir together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarb of soda. Stir in the cherries, separating the pieces from sticking together in clumps.
4. Whisk the milk and cream into cooled butter, whisk in the egg. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix into lumpy batter.
5. Spoon the mix into 9 or 10 muffin tin holes; you can divide it between all the 12 holes but the muffins are nicer when risen above the tin. Sprinkle the muffins with demerara sugar and transfer to the oven, on middle rack.
6. Bake for 20 minutes until golden and crisp around the edges, and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
7. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then run a sharp knife around each muffin to remove them onto a wire rack. They can be halved and toasted lightly under the grill in the unlikely event of lasting more than a couple of days.
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