Updated: Jan 26, 2020
These muffins won me a first-place ribbon among corn muffins at the Los Angeles County Fair in 2013. It took me a few tries to come up with a corn muffin that was classic Americana (the trend in recent years has been to go southwest-savory with jalapeño and cheddar), but once I hit upon using maple sugar, it all came together in a way that is inspired yet familiar.
Anyone who has read the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder knows that cornmeal and maple sugar were an important part of the American pioneer diet, as were native fruits such as blueberries. Who can forget the descriptions of Laura eating maple sugar candy, or helping her mom to mix up cornmeal Johnnycakes?
These muffins are more refined than what you'd find in the frontier log cabins of the 19th century, but that's okay. Your brunch guests won't mind as they reach for seconds and thirds. These are seriously delicious.
Maple Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins
Yield: 12 - 14 muffins
1 ⅓ cup (325 g) whole milk yogurt (preferably organic)
1 cup (160 g) cornmeal, preferably Bob’s Red Mill polenta grind
1 ½ cup (200 g) bleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup (120 g) maple sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup (60 g) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup (160 g) blueberries, fresh or frozen, tossed in 1 teaspoon flour (the flour keeps them from sinking to the bottom of the muffin)
Whisk together the egg and yogurt. Add the cornmeal and let the mixture sit for about an hour so that the cornmeal hydrates and everything is at room temperature.
About a half-hour before you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and prepare muffin pans with liners.
In another bowl, whisk the remaining dry ingredients together. Stir the dry ingredients into the cornmeal mixture just until moistened. Fold in the butter, then the blueberries. Be gentle and do not over-mix or you'll make tough muffins.
Scoop the batter into prepared muffin tins, filling no more than two-thirds. I like to let the batter sit for about 10 or 15 minutes so that the tops get a nice dome when they bake.
Bake for 16 to 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean.
Let cool. Remove from pan. Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Can be reheated.
1. Maple sugar is expensive and not always easy to find. You can use regular granulated sugar instead and add maple extract to the wet ingredients. Weigh out 120g granulated sugar and mix it with your dry ingredients. Add 1/4 teaspoon maple extract to the cornmeal-yogurt mixture.
2. One of my secret weapons whenever I make a blueberry dessert is blueberry extract. I discovered it years after I developed this recipe, and I wish I'd known about it sooner. I use a pure blueberry extract from Olive Nation (olivenation.com). It is potent -- a little goes a long way. In this recipe, I use 1/8 teaspoon and add it to the cornmeal-yogurt mixture.