Perfect home-made muffins

Home baking is on a roll; it's fashionable and trendy right now.

Baking a batch of muffins combines the satisfaction of doing it yourself with the knowledge that you, the baker, know exactly what ingredients have gone into your muffins.

Muffins are the easiest of all baked goods to make. The batter is quickly mixed then briefly baked.

This is a simple mixture and takes less then 30 minutes from go to whoa, producing fresh, warm-smelling, flavour-filled muffins. And because you are making it from scratch, you know with total confidence that the final product is fresh and wholesome.

These are little savoury cakes, they taste so good, and I absolutely love them. They're moist and full of pep. The polenta gives a rustic, slightly gritty crunch, and the irresistible flavours of cheese and bacon permeate everything. The cheddar needs to be a mature one otherwise the flavour just doesn't carry.

Delicious for lunch with a rasher or two of bacon and a simple salad or serve with hearty soups and stews.

The mini-muffins make delectable little nibbles to serve with pre-dinner drinks. Split, spread with cream cheese and tuck in a sliver of brie.

For most people, a medium-sized muffin is enough, but some cafes still serve enormously oversized muffins containing about one third of our daily kilojoule requirements.

No one, with the possible exception of endurance runners, shearers and All Blacks needs to eat this amount of carbohydrate as a snack.

Muffin tins vary quite a lot in size. The medium-sized 12-hole variety holds between 80ml (approximately one-third of a cup) and 125ml (half a cup).

My muffin pans are the smaller, 80ml size. This recipe makes too much batter for my 12-hole medium-sized muffin pans.

If you have other muffin pans, simple fill 2 or 3 of the muffin cups with the remaining batter and cook on the shelf below or put the extra batter into paper muffin cases. I use 2 paper cases, one inside the other for a more rigid case.

Cook the extras on a shelf below, with the oven set to 180degC on fan bake.

While developing this muffin recipe I've used several different brands of creamed corn and one brand is particularly disappointing. Do read the label on the can.

Some corn is grown and canned overseas and bulked out with water and thickeners. Buy a New Zealand-grown and processed sweet corn. The difference in the taste of the muffin is unbelievable.


Photo: Peter McIntosh
Photo: Peter McIntosh
Cornbread muffins with cheese and bacon

Makes 14 medium muffins

150g standard flour
2½ tsp baking powder
100g cornmeal, (polenta), coarse or medium ground
100g lean bacon, rind removed, finely chopped (I used Kiwi middle eye bacon)
100g mature tasty cheddar grated
3Tbsp chopped fresh Thyme leaves
2 large eggs, size 7, lightly beaten
¼ cup Thai Sweet Chilli sauce
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 410 g can creamed corn

Preheat oven to 180degC fan bake if your oven has this function otherwise 200degC bake.

Coat a 12-hole medium muffin pan or 24-hole mini-muffin pan with baking spray. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Stir in the corn meal, chopped bacon, grated cheese and thyme leaves. Make a well in the centre.

In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sweet chilli sauce, olive oil, Dijon mustard and the creamed corn. Mix well. Add all at once to the flour mixture and stir until just moistened. The batter should be lumpy. Over-mixing toughens the muffins, 10 seconds is usually enough.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin pans. Don't overfill. Fill muffin pans to just under the rim otherwise the tops spread too much on to the flat surface of the pan.

Bake for 15-20 minutes (8-10 minutes for mini muffins) until lightly golden and a skewer or toothpick inserted in the centre of the muffin comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool. I find that muffins containing cheese tend to stick to the pans. Leaving them to cool for a good 10 minutes enables them to slip out more easily.

Muffins are perfect for freezing.

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