Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Recipe: Crackling Cheese-Chive Muffins

"Warm and plump as fresh baked muffins..." (Charlotte Pomerantz)
This morning called for something more than cereal or scrambled eggs. The day called for Muffins. So Sister-Bug and I whipped up a batch while Brother-Bug slept in.

Two other excellent reasons to make muffins:

1) You have sour milk. Like I wrote about here, sour milk has a magical effect on the consistency of baked goods like muffins, quick breads, and pancakes. And why waste that potential?

2) Mixing muffins is an easy project to do with a little kid. Muffin batter is very flexible and forgivable. Once you get a general recipe down you can add and subtract, and your toddler can pour in too much baking powder...and you can still save it and come out of the experience (usually) with something edible.

These are our favorite muffins, and a wonderfully flexible recipe. Because they are savory they make a good addition to any meal and I've seen them disappear at many potlucks. My mom made a similar muffin when I was young and I've kept it and adapted it for our days when we just need muffins for breakfast - like today.

I used Lonesome Whistle's Red-Fife Wheat Flour and Buckwheat Flour which gave this particular batch of muffins a particularly rich flavor and a wonderful crumb. The millet is for texture fun (as well as the wonderful nutrition found in millet). As the muffins bake, the millet softens a little and toasts which is what makes these muffins "crackling" - the millet pops while you chew which is really fun! You can use any flour combinations, but at least 1 cup must be a whole grain flour or the texture will be really strange. I like a sharp cheddar and chives best, but only fresh chives. However, any combination of cheese and herbs will work, and it's fun to play with flavor potential.

Sister-Bug considers the implicatons of muffin batter.

What else could you add? Bacon or ham bits? Blue cheese instead of cheddar? Roasted red pepper bits? Flax seeds, bran, wheat germ, or other nutritional delights? Rye flour and caraway seeds? So many possibilities.

It's the fresh chives that really make this recipe so good.
Crackling Cheese-Chive Muffins

2 cups flour (combined whole wheat, other whole grains, and a little white to keep it light)
4 tsp. baking powder
A pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups sour milk or thinned yogurt
2 eggs
1-3 tbl. fresh chives (or other herbs)
2/3 cup millet
1 cup grated cheese (sharp cheddar or ??)
3 tbl. melted butter (or vegetable oil)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Mix the dry ingredients and make a well. Add the milk and eggs and beat throughly. Add the chives, millet, and cheese mixing till just combined. Stir in the butter.

Spoon into muffin tins and bake until a toothpick comes out clean - about 20 minutes. Eat warm, eat cold, eat plain, eat with butter... Just eat them quickly before your kids inhale them!

Just coming out of the oven...

Baking in Cast Iron? I always bake my muffins in my cast iron pans. They are a bit of an investment, but they are really worth it! Preheat the pans with the oven and use a basting brush to grease each muffin cup. Spoon in your batter and bake as usual. Because your muffin cups are hot iron, they bake the bottom of the muffin - making the whole muffin crisp around. And as long as you wipe them up right away and don't use soap on your cast iron (EVER), they are clean and back in the cupboard very quickly. 

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