As soon as November rolls around, I start thinking about Thanksgiving. Sure, I daydream about the pies, casseroles and turkey with all the trimmings, but, maybe surprisingly, the part of the dinner I look forward to most is the bread basket.
The breads that traditionally kick off the meal at my family’s table set the tone of the deliciousness to come, with a selection of homemade rolls, biscuits and muffins that bowl you over with their fresh, warm goodness. While the biscuits hold their own, the corn muffins are my favorite. Their golden hue, hearty crumb and sweet, earthy aroma say “harvest” to me, and they are the perfect match for the other tastes and textures at the table.
The accompanying recipe turns out specimens that, rather than being ultra-soft and cakelike, have the appeal of a lightly sweetened corn bread, where the grain of the cornmeal shines through, and fresh sweet corn kernels add bursts of flavor and color throughout.
Besides being delicious, they are better for you than a typical muffin. Mixing the cornmeal with whole-wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose flour lightens the muffins while adding whole-grain nutrition. Using canola oil rather than butter makes them moist and tender, with more-healthful fat.
Corn muffins need some sweetener or they can wind up tasting bitter; the minimal amount in these muffins is mostly honey, which imparts an extra layer of flavor. The muffins’ size is a healthful plus as well: Eat one (or two) and still have room for the parade of other dishes that will be passed your way at the holiday table.
Krieger’s most recent cookbook is “Weeknight Wonders: Delicious Healthy Dinners in 30 Minutes or Less” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013). Read her blog and newsletter at www.elliekrieger.com.
Honey Whole-Grain Mini Corn Muffins
From nutritionist and cookbook author Ellie Krieger.
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup low-fat milk (1 percent)
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup honey
1 cup fresh or frozen/defrosted corn kernels
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use cooking oil spray to lightly grease three 12-well mini-muffin pans. (Or use one pan, and re-grease before each subsequent batch.)
Whisk together the whole-wheat pastry flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl until well combined. Whisk together the eggs, milk, oil and honey in a separate large bowl, then add to the flour mixture, mixing just until combined. Stir in the corn.
Divide the batter among the muffin wells, filling them almost to the top. Bake for 18 to 23 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the muffins at the center of the pan comes out clean.
Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes, then use a round-edged knife to loosen the edges around each muffin. Carefully lift them out and place them on the wire rack to cool completely before serving or storing.
18 servings (makes 36 muffins)
Nutrition per 2-muffin serving: 130 calories, 3 g protein, 19 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 150 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 8 g sugar