A few years ago we stayed at a lake house and when we arrived there was a box of blueberry mini muffins in the pantry. We had driven well over seven hours that day, it was almost dinnertime, and I had no idea what I was going to do about it. So, when Amaya asked if she could have some muffins, I said yes. In retrospect this was a bad idea because those tiny, sticky-sweet muffins appealed to her in a very big way. Over the course of the next few days she finished that box of muffins. For months afterwards, whenever she saw them in the supermarket, Amaya would ask me to buy more. My answer was a firm no. I explained that vacation houses, much like restaurants, may give her the opportunity to try things that we don't serve at home. That does not mean that these items will become part of our daily life. Instead I began making mini muffins.
They come and go with the seasons. We all like them for a while and then we get tired of them. Right now, we happen to be in a muffin period. I'm indulging my pleasure in whole and sprouted grains. I feel as though I should whisper that because grains and gluten are so vilified at the moment. I still enjoy them. These muffins remind me of New England, with their nutty corn flavor, balanced with maple syrup and sweet-tart berries. They key here is toasting the corn flour. I do it in a skillet rather than in the oven because it's a relatively small amount of flour and your nose will do a better job of telling you when it's ready than your eyes will. We're not going for a dark golden brown here, rather, we're going for a rich nutty aroma. The flour will darken slightly but not so much that it's a good indicator of flavor. I tend to go directly from the pan to a cold metal bowl and stir it up a bit to cool it down. I measure out my liquid ingredients and then add the dry to the cooled corn flour before mixing it all together. This makes a perfect pan of mini muffins that will disappear faster than you can imagine.
Blueberry Corn Muffin
Makes enough batter to fill one pan of mini muffins (24)
1 cup / 215 grams corn flour (I use Bob's Red Mill, any quality finely ground cornmeal will work)
3/4 cup / 180 grams buttermilk
1/2 cup / 155 grams Grade B maple syrup
1/4 cup / 56 grams neutral oil or melted butter (I used avocado oil)
1 teaspoon / 4 grams vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup / 120 grams sprouted spelt flour (you can substitute all purpose, whole wheat, barley, etc)
2.5 teaspoons / 15 grams baking powder
1/2 teaspoon / 3 grams fine sea salt
1.5 cups / 255 grams blueberries, fresh or frozen
Preheat oven to 400°F. (205°C.)
Spray a mini muffin tin with pan spray and use a small piece of paper towel to wipe out the excess oil.
Put the corn flour in a large saute pan set over medium high heat and cook, stirring constantly until the the aroma changes from fresh corn silk to a slightly nutty, toasted corn aroma, about 8-10 minutes. The color will deepen slightly. Transfer to toasted flour to a large mixing bowl to cool.
Meanwhile put the buttermilk, maple syrup, oil, vanilla, and the egg in a medium mixing bowl and whisk to blend. Add the sprouted spelt flour, baking powder and salt to the bowl of corn flour and whisk to blend. Add the liquid ingredients and use a rubber spatula to mix the batter together, until almost smooth. Add the berries and fold them in gently. Put about 2 tablespoons of batter in each muffin cup, I generally fill them to the top. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown on top and just set. Cool for 10 minutes and turn them out of the muffin tin. Cool for 5 more minutes before serving.
*One of the perils of a touch screen oven is that sometimes, when you're cleaning the range, you accidentally turn the timer off. While my nose came to the rescue and I didn't actually burn my muffins, the ones pictured above are a little bit on the dark side. Yours should be more of a golden brown, with a tender crumb, and a delicate crunch from the corn flour...