Last weekend I came across a competition on Chow for the best original muffin recipe. Now, I love muffins, quickbreads, that whole kind of snack/brunch category is right up my alley. (Remember pancakes, anyone?) But I don’t have a favorite recipe, I usually just throw together what’s at hand along the lines of a basic muffin recipe and enjoy the results, so I don’t know why I was seized with the competitive spirit and determined to enter the contest.
We buy a loaf of Struan bread almost every week – it’s just a prepacked sliced loaf made by Brother Juniper’s Bakery, perfect for morning toast or lunchbox sandwiches. A couple of times I’ve made my own, following Peter Reinhardt’s version in Artisan Breads Every Day, and it’s delicious, but it’s hard to make the timing work to end up with a nice fresh loaf at breakfast, which is when I would like it most. But muffins, those can be whipped up in a few minutes and out of the oven in just a few more, and aha! I had my original muffin recipe.
Granted, dashing off a new combination the day before the contest closed doesn’t quite live up to the “favorite muffin recipe” challenge, so maybe it’s no surprise it didn’t make the finals. I have to say, though, this is a sleeper. On its own, it’s basic without being plain: the texture from the oats, cornmeal and rice give it a fabulous crumb, and there’s something almost savory about it, past the sweetness of the honey and brown sugar. With a jam center, though, you have a surprise finale, and I think you wouldn’t go wrong tossing in some fruit or nuts as well. I may not have gotten to the second round of the contest, but a new and delicious recipe is no loss!
Yes, this recipe calls for cooked brown rice. White rice is fine! Next time you make rice (or even get some with your takeout), just put a couple of spoonfuls in a bag and freeze it, then you’re ready to bake any time.
Makes 12 muffins
- 1¼ cups flour
- cup rolled oats (not quick cooking)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons cooked brown rice
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- ¼ cup jam (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan.
- Whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda, salt, cornmeal, cooked rice, and brown sugar in a medium bowl.
- In a large measuring cup, beat together the buttermilk, oil, eggs and honey until well mixed. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and allow to sit for about 1 minute for ingredients to hydrate.
- Spoon into prepared muffin pan. For jam centers, spoon about 1 tablespoon of the batter into each muffin cup and drop a teaspoon of jam on top, then cover with the remaining batter. Sprinkle the tops with poppy seeds.
- Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes before transferring the muffins to a rack to cool completely.