Please play with this recipe. Add and subtract to your heart’s content. Don’t eat meat? Add additional cheese and herbs for super-cheesy herby muffins. No rye flour in the pantry? Substitute another flour, like whole-wheat, buckwheat, or, if you must, more all-purpose flour. Black pepper is not my thing but Laurel is obsessed. She always adds a healthy dose to these. Ham instead of bacon? Do it. Goat cheese? Why not? Like I said, play!
Browning the tops of these before they overbake inside is the key to success. So you may want to bake one muffin pan at a time, right at the top of your oven. Feel free to ride your oven dial and go hotter or cooler to control the browning, but just remember that color is flavor, so you want these pretty dark.
Recipe: Bacon Cheddar Muffins
Makes 15 muffins
6 tbsp/85 g unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
2 tbsp sugar
1½ tsp kosher salt
¾ cup/100 g all-purpose flour
¾ cup/120 g cornmeal
6 tbsp/40 g rye flour
1½ tbsp baking powder
½ cup + 1 tbsp/135 ml canola oil
3 tbsp + 2 tsp/55 ml maple syrup
1 cup + 2 tbsp/175 ml buttermilk
½ cup/70 g diced Cheddar (cut into 1-in/2.5-cm cubes), plus ¼ cup/30 g grated Cheddar
¼ cup/10 g fresh chives, parsley, or a combo, finely chopped
Chopped rosemary for garnishing
Position a rack near the top of your oven and preheat to 400°F/ 200°C. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with 15 paper liners, spacing them evenly between the two pans.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and salt for 1 to 2 minutes until nice and fluffy. Incorporate the eggs slowly, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the all-purpose flour, cornmeal, rye flour, and baking powder and mix until incorporated. Add the canola oil, maple syrup, and buttermilk. Scrape the mixer bowl well, making sure everything is well incorporated. Add the diced Cheddar, 4 tbsp/25 g of the Parmesan, the bacon, and chives. Mix just until dispersed, folding by hand to be sure.
Fill the muffin cups to the very top.
In a small bowl toss the grated Cheddar with the remaining 2 tbsp Parmesan and sprinkle evenly over the muffins. Bake for about 15 minutes, until nicely browned but not overbaked inside. Garnish with chopped rosemary.