Maple Corn Muffins: Southern classic gets a Far North makeover

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Is there anything quite as lovely as a simple corn muffin?

Its sunny interior perfectly reflects the color of the corn from which it springs.

You know the liquid-yellow hue of a just-shucked ear of corn? It’s not Crayola yellow, nor golden, nor even bright lemon.

No, fresh corn is a pale but rich yellow, the color you might expect an opal to be – if opals came in yellow.

The muffin pictured above isn’t exactly corn-colored; it’s a deeper tone, a combination shucked corn and mahogany. But its slightly less sunny color is the result of a secret ingredient…

Maple, which brands this muffin as Canadian: corn and maple are two of Canada’s most important food crops.

In honor of July 1, Canada Day, let’s make a batch of easy Maple Corn Muffins.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease the 12 wells of a standard muffin pan; or line them with muffin papers, and grease the papers.

What’s the difference, whether or not you line your muffin pan with papers? Stay tuned…

Place the following in a bowl:

1 3/4 cups (7 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Whisk to combine.

In another bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the following:

1 cup milk
1/4 cup maple syrup, Grade B preferred
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon maple flavor, optional
1 large egg

We’ve found that maple is one of the hardest flavors to “carry through” in baking. You have to add an awful lot of maple sugar or maple syrup to a recipe to taste it – at the risk of over-sweetening whatever it is you’re baking.

If you’re a fan of maple, I suggest keeping some maple flavor (pictured above) on hand; it really does boost the “maple-iness.”

Whisk to combine.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients…

…and stir to combine.

Finally, stir in 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) melted butter. Unsalted is preferable, but if you use salted, reduce the salt in the recipe to 1/4 teaspoon.

Why not just add the melted butter along with the other liquid ingredients?

Because adding hot melted butter to cold milk and egg results in semi-solid butter globs, which are more difficult to combine (quickly) with the dry ingredients.

So, what does it matter how long it takes to beat the butter into the batter?

In the case of stir-together muffins – muffins where you simply stir wet and dry ingredients together, without beating butter and eggs and sugar together first – less is more. The less you stir, the less the flour’s gluten will develop, the more tender your muffins will be.

Scoop the batter by the heaping 1/4-cupful into the prepared pan. A muffin scoop is helpful here – no drips, no sticky fingers, and perfect portions every time.

See what I mean? Easy does it.

Ready for the oven? Not yet.

Sprinkle the top of each muffin with some maple sugar, if you have it. I find that using maple as a condiment rather than an ingredient really helps its flavor come through.

Another option: mix some sparkling white sugar with maple syrup, and spread on top of the muffins.

Bake the muffins for 15 to 18 minutes…

…until one of the center muffins tests done: the top should spring back lightly, and a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it.

Do you see any difference in rise between the muffins on the left, and those on the right? Hint: look at the back row.

It’s all about the muffin papers.

Remove the muffins from the oven.

Tilt them in the pan (they’re hot, be careful), so their bottoms don’t steam and become leathery.

At last – muffin mysteries revealed! The muffins that baked in the papers rise more evenly, since the paper provides JUST enough insulation so that the edges don’t set way before the centers.

So there you have it – another reason, besides presentation and ease of cleanup (unless you enjoy laboriously scrubbing each well of a muffin pan) to use muffin papers.

And here’s another trick. Hot muffins, like angel food cake or English muffins, can be quite delicate, their interior easily squashed.

How about using an angel-food cake cutter to split hot muffins?

Works like a charm! Oh, those crags and tunnels, just waiting for some soft butter and…

…maple syrup, of course.

Serve muffins warm, or at room temperature. Store any (completely cool) leftovers tightly wrapped at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.

Do you have friends or family in Canada? Suggest these muffins, and wish them a warm, sunny, and tasty Canada Day this Friday!

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Maple Corn Muffins.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Aaron

    Cool. Can you let the batter rest a bit, say 10 or 15 minutes or even overnight to relax the glutten before baking? I read about this for pancakes in your baking book would it work for muffins?

    What about adding something like powdered buttermilk to tenderize the muffins? I know it has a tanginess but the maple might over power it.

    Thanks

    Aaron

    Sure, Aaron, letting the batter rest is fine. And I’d imagine you could add a couple of tablespoons of buttermilk powder, too – go for it! PJH

    Reply
  2. meedee

    I made these muffins today and they are very good. But I wonder what is Canada Day? Will make again. They are tender and moist. Thank You!
    HI Meedee,
    Canada Day is rather like July 4th here in the states. Wikipedia has a nice explanation here.

    Reply
  3. milkwithknives

    Oh, my goodness, my mouth is just DROOLING looking at those muffins! Why did I never think to make them with maple? I grind my cornmeal coarse because I love the crunch, and I’ve also been known to cook cornbread on my waffle iron so it’s all crust, all the time. Mmm. I’ll bet this would make spectacular corn waffles, and then of course you’d put more maple syrup on top to eat them! (grin) I’ll give your recipe a bash soon (too bad I can’t drive home from work and do it right now), and this might just be the perfect excuse to finally buy maple sugar. Thanks so much!

    Reply
  4. aoifeofcheminnoir

    I had to laugh about the cornbread on the waffle iron! A few years back, our house was hit by lightening and it traveled through pipes and grounded out in our electronic ignition range.
    I made a batch of ham ‘n beans, the realized…no oven for cornbread! The waffle iron was on the counter…oh, make waffle cornbread. Problem solved! Bet these yummy tidbits would make good waffles, too.

    I make my own substitute for maple sugar by mixing maple extract into reg or raw sugar. mix evenly, spread out to dry, put in airtight container. Works in a pinch but I use it up fast!
    These muffins sound wonderful!

    i

    Reply
  5. Margy

    These look yummy! Of course, you’ve just given every cornbread/muffin purist below the Mason-Dixon line a heart attack! ;D

    Reply
  6. eleyana

    Oh these sound simply smashing! I miss cornbread and the like since we have been a corn free house for my daughter, but I actually made a great “corn”bread with ground millet that satisfied my craving and was safe for the whole family. I think I’ll try that with these. I do love maple and our local health food store carries little bitty bags of the sugar. So expensive though. Could I get away with granular coconut sugar? I’d probably still drizzle it with grade B maple though for a serious maple infusion!
    Give the coconut sugar a try, you can boost the maple flavor with the drizzle. Let us know how it goes. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  7. TS

    I made these and altho I did not have maple sugar and my syrup is milder than B, they were good, but I prefer my recipe which has 1 cup each corn meal and flour and 2 eggs and results in a lighter maybe cakier, muffin (and less crumbly.)

    Reply

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