By Lauren Chattman
The unusually hot, dry weather we enjoyed in June has produced a bounty of fruits and vegetables now on display at local farm stands and markets, several weeks ahead of what is usual around here. What a joy it was to be able to cook and bake with local corn on the Fourth of July weekend!
On Friday I stopped by Pike’s farm stand on Sagg Main Road and picked up some freshly harvested corn. I also bought a pint of local raspberries so addictively sweet that I only had half a pint by the time I got home. On Saturday morning I had a scant cup of raspberries left over so I decided to stir them into corn muffin batter. The results were so satisfying that I made corn muffins again for dinner, this time with a cup of corn kernels from the two ears of corn I hadn’t cooked the night before. Perhaps I am psychic, because I had a feeling earlier in the week that I’d imminently need the Vermont Creamery Cultured Butter with Sea Salt that dairy owner Allison Hooper was selling at Lucy’s Whey in East Hampton on Thursday. Impulsively, I bought some, so I had it on hand to slather on both batches of my still-warm muffins as well as on my corn on the cob. The crunchy sea salt in the wonderfully pure-tasting butter perfectly balanced the sweetness in the muffins and corn. Observing farm stand etiquette, I resist the urge to strip the husks before buying my corn at Pike’s or anywhere else I might be recognized. It is more polite to determine by touch that local corn is good and ready to eat: Gently press on the ends of an ear to feel the kernels. If they are plump and large as pearls underneath the husks, then put the ear in your basket. If they are tiny like seed beads, move on to the next ear. Since this good will method isn’t foolproof, I always buy an extra ear or two just in case.
I like my corn muffins as crumbly and crunchy and corny as possible, so I use half flour and half yellow corn meal, preferably stone-ground. Provisions carries some organic varieties that are tasty, and King Kullen has the brand I like, Indian Head. If you like your muffins more cakey, use 1 1/3 cups of flour and 2/3 cups cornmeal instead. If you have the time and foresight, let your egg, egg yolk, sour cream, and milk come to room temperature before you mix your batter. Room temperature wet ingredients will give you muffins with a higher rise, as will whisking them vigorously until emulsified before stirring in the dry ingredients. To make Fresh Raspberry and Corn muffins, simply substitute 1 cup of raspberries for the corn, stirring them in gently and taking care not to crush them too much.
Fresh Corn Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 cup fresh corn (from two small ears)
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
2. Whisk together the sugar, egg, and egg yolk in a large bowl. Whisk in the melted butter until emulsified, about 1 minute. Whisk in the sour cream and milk until smooth.
3. Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture until just combined. Gently stir in the corn.
4. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Bake until golden brown and well-risen, 15 to 17 minutes. Let the muffins cool in the tin on top of a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove them from the tin and let them cool on the rack for at least 10 minutes or let cool to room temperature before eating. (Wrap leftover muffins individually in plastic wrap and then put them in a zipper-lock bag and freeze for up to 2 weeks. Defrost them on the countertop for 15 minutes and then re-warm them in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes—they’ll be fresh-tasting and delicious.)