I love rummaging through antique stores. You never know what you will find; what stories will be revealed. I was not on a quest for a cookbook, but that is what I came away with. I found a pristine copy of Country Baking by Ken Haedrich. There was a convenient love seat nearby so I sat for a while and read through the recipes. The very first one was for these muffins. I had eaten a very uninspiring breakfast that morning, so the thought of these cornmeal muffins appealed to me in a big way. Wholesome cornmeal, whole wheat flour and just a touch of sweetness from the molasses sounded like my kind of quick breakfast. There was more; lots of recipes for quick breads, yeast breads, pies, cakes, crackers and savory dishes like Deep Dish Sausage and Shrimp Pie. I knew I needed this cookbook.
I found out something else when I got home. Ken Haedrich is one of the country’s foremost baking authorities. He has an online website called The Pie Academy. It is dedicated to the idea that anyone can learn to make great pies from scratch. I contacted him by email and he has graciously agreed to do a guest post on my blog in the near future. Country Baking is now out of print. He wrote it over 20 years ago. There are still some books available on Amazon. But Ken told me that he has three copies left in his supply if you are interested. It has a different cover but the same content. They would be $17.00 including postage. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org to order your copy. It is still a relevant baking book and according to Ken, one of his favorites from all of his publications.
I know I was glad that I found this book and had the opportunity to learn more about Ken Haedrich and The Pie Academy. I look forward to having him share some of his knowledge with us on this blog. I am also happy to share this great recipe with you. A muffin and cup of coffee have been my breakfast of choice for the last few days.
CORNMEAL MOLASSES CRUMB MUFFINS
1 cup unbleached flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 large egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup flavorless vegetable oil
1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
1 1/2 tablespoons unbleached flour
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and butter 12 muffin cups. To make the muffin batter, stir the unbleached flour, cornmeal, whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt, and spices together in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the egg lightly, then whisk in the milk, oil, and molasses. Set aside.
Make the crumb topping by combining the crumb ingredients in a mixing bowl and then rubbing them between your fingers until you have large, damp crumbs.
Make a well in the dry ingredients, add the liquids, and stir with a few deft strokes, just to blend. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Sprinkle some of the crumb topping on each muffin and bake for 18 to 20 minutes. When the muffins are done, the topping should be browned lightly and the muffins themselves slightly springy to the touch. Cool the muffins on a rack in the pan for 5 minutes, after which they should lift right out. Serve them hot, storing leftovers in a sealed plastic bag for up to 2 days. To reheat, wrap in foil and place in a hot oven for 5 minutes.