Corn Muffins with Black Pepper and Lime Zest

By • September 22, 2013 0 Comments

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Author Notes: Are you the kind of baker who always has buttermilk on hand? Well, I'm not. It's true, you can make a buttermilk sub with regular milk and lemon juice, but honestly, sometimes I can't be bothered.

These corn muffins are stupid easy. The recipe yields six normal-sized muffins, so it’s the kind I hope you’ll turn to when you don’t want to get over your head in muffins. Unlike a lot of great muffin recipes out there, these don’t use buttermilk, sour cream, or yogurt–all ingredients that virtually guarantee a muffin with a tender crumb. In spite of that, these are at once tender and cornmeal-forward, and you’ll be grateful when you want to bake a batch without running out to the store.

That said, you can add any flourish you like to this base recipe. Being the kind of person who can’t really leave well enough alone, I added a touch of freshly ground black pepper and the zest of about one-quarter an average-sized lime. These accents are subtle, however. You’ll find they add a background brightness to this classic corn muffin.

And classic corn muffin this is, at least the way I grew up. I like my corn muffins to be mostly cornmeal, so they crumble apart when warm and crunch up on the edges when toasted. What’s that sensation of eating cornbread so it grits a little between your teeth but still somehow manages to be pillowy soft? I guess it’s the cornbread sensation. I like that. Also, corn muffins should never be overly sweet, nor overly UNsweet–I want a little honey taste that lets the corniness star.
Katie Okamoto


Makes 6 muffins

  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup milk (preferably whole or 2%)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 1/4 lime's zest
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Mix dry (cornmeal through pepper) in one mixing bowl.
  3. Combine remaining wet ingredients and zest of about a quarter of a lime in another, and whisk together.
  4. Pour wet mixture into dry and stir until incorporated, taking care to not over-mix.
  5. Line a standard muffin tin with six paper liner cups and distribute the batter evenly.
  6. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the tops are beginning to turn golden brown and split open, and a fork inserted comes out clean. Try not to overbake, or they will be stiffer.

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