Comfort baking

These strange (and physically isolated) have me missing friends and family, uncertain about what’s to come, and feeling generally anxious. To help me cope, I’m making comforting, familiar, satisfying recipes that call to mind childhood memories—and don’t require any strange, hard-to-find ingredients.

These super-simple, super-delicious blueberry/lemon cornmeal muffins certainly fit the bill! And, as a bonus, they’re wonderfully high-protein and delightfully filling.

There’s no butter or eggs, but the yoghurt makes it decidedly not vegan. I’m not sure how coconut-milk yoghurt (or a similar vegan substitute) would fare during baking, but I suspect it’s not suitable for a straight-up vegan-friendly conversion. If you’re eating vegan and want to a similarly comforting carb hit, try this totally vegan recipe for lemon-blueberry muffins.

Blueberry/lemon cornmeal muffin recipe

I’ve tried to make the recipe easy-to-use for those baking in a European tradition (weighing ingredients and using Centigrade to measure temperature) and a North American one (cups and Fahrenheit), with teaspoons and tablespoons providing a happy cross-over.

All of the ingredients should be pretty easy to find. The biggest variation seems to be how the vanilla-flavour is delivered. Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland most commonly have packets of vanilla sugar; Canada has readily available vanilla extract; and fancy people everywhere use vanilla paste. Use whatever you’ve got at hand in what seems like a reasonable, not-overpowering amount.

Ingredients

  • 150g (1 cup) cornmeal or fine polenta
  • 45g (1/3 cup) wholewheat flour
  • 85g (2/3 cup) white or all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 300mL (1 1/4 cups) thick yoghurt – ideally Turkish or Greek-style
  • 60 mL (1/4 cup) canola oil
  • 100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar (plus a little more for on top the muffins, if desired)
  • A tsp or so vanilla sugar, vanilla paste, or vanilla extract
  • Juice and zest from 1 lemon
  • 100g (1 cup) blueberries (fresh or frozen—if frozen, do not thaw)

Method

  • Preheat oven to 190°C (175°C convection) / 375°F (350°F convection) and get a 12-cup muffin tin ready for the batter
    • Prepare the muffin tin by lining with paper wrappers, inserting silicone muffin cups, or greasing with vegetable oil
  • In a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together yoghurt, oil, sugar, lemon juice, and zest
  • Take a tablespoon or so of the flour mixture and and mix it through the fresh or still-frozen berries (this helps dry out the fruit a bit and keep it from sinking to the bottom of the muffins)
  • Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the yoghurt mixture and flour-laced berries
  • Stir the batter until just combined
    • Leaving a few streaks of flour is better than over-mixing as the muffins get tunnels if the dough is worked too much
  • Use a tablespoon to dollop the batter into your prepared muffin tins; sprinkle with a bit of sugar if desired
  • Bake muffins on the centre rack for about 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through
    • Muffins will be golden brown on top, spring back when pressed with a finger, and a toothpick inserted in the centre should come out clean
  • Remove muffins from the oven and leave in the pan to cool for a few minutes
  • Pop muffins from out of the pan and let cool on wire racks

For an extra delicious twist, serve with honey butter (just equal parts honey and butter smushed together) as pictured.

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