When we were done my dad and I would stop at the diner for pancakes (me) and a toasted corn muffin with grape jelly (him). Greek diners are a huge part of my East coast heritage. Those of you who have ever lived on the East coast will understand. In fact, the Majestic Diner in Westbury, New York, is the first place I want to go when I visit my mom and the last place I fill up before heading back to the airport. Spanikopita the size of a dinner plate. Roast chicken with a side of stewed dandelion greens. And sometimes, when I'm in the right mood, one of those big, sweet corn muffins, split, griddled, and slathered with butter and jam. My dad passed away two years ago, but every time I eat a corn muffin I can feel him licking his lips nearby.
As a kid I found cornbread and corn muffins a little dry. This might have been because my mother did not believe in butter. (Yes, really.) As I learned later, with butter, cornbread is positively intoxicating. I love its sunny yellow, the crunch of the cornmeal, and the sweet smell of warm corn. I've taken to adding grated apples to my cornbread to make it even more moist.
This is good baked in a skillet or cake pan, but I like muffins: individual servings, fewer crumbs. If cornbread is part of your Thanksgiving, you'll love these. Just be sure to put a butter dish on the table.
Apple cornbread muffins
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup milk
- 6 Tbsp butter, cut into a few pieces
- 1 egg
- 1 large apple, peeled and grated
In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. If your baking powder tends to clump, as mine does, pass it through a little strainer before you put it in the bowl. (I learned this lesson the hard way; biting into a lump of baking powder or baking soda in a nice, warm, sweet muffin is no fun at all.)
In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, pour the milk, then add the butter. Microwave the milk mixture on high for 30 seconds; stir, then put it in for another 30 seconds. The milk should be warm enough to melt the butter by now, but don't heat it too much - you'll see why in the next step. Stir until the butter is melted. Add the egg and beat with a fork to combine. If the milk is too hot, it will cook the egg, which you definitely don't want to do.
Whisk the milk mixture into the cornmeal mixture just until combined. Stir in the grated apple. Divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups, which should fill each about 2/3 of the way up. Bake about 20 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.