Better-than-Box Corn Muffins

So hypothetically speaking, over the weekend you made the cinnamon honey scones I posted on Friday, and now you have a half-empty container of creme fraiche in your fridge. I promised a recipe to help you use the rest up and am delivering on that today with these better-than-box corn muffins. A standard 8-oz container of creme fraiche (the size most commonly available in the stores around here) will be just enough to make the full scone recipe and halve this muffin recipe!

And speaking of creme fraiche, thanks to everyone who commented and emailed to let me know that you can make your own at home. I’ve seen that tip in the Flour cookbook, which essentially requires combining heavy cream and a little buttermilk and then letting it stand until thickened. I haven’t tried it personally, mainly because the mixture needs at least 10 hours to thicken and I don’t usually think that far ahead :) However, I’m putting it on my to-do list and will report back as soon as I’ve given it a go!

Better-than-Box Corn Muffins

As you’ve probably guessed by now, I do 99.9% of my baking from scratch. I make an exception for two things: brownies and corn muffins. I’m sorry, but boxed brownies are delicious and so fast – I’ll never give them up. Boxed corn muffins are a much less frequent occurrence around here but I love them too; I think we ate them growing up so they have nostalgic value.

When it comes to homemade corn muffins, my gold standard has been Dorie Greenspan’s recipe from Baking: From My Home to Yours. I’ve been making those muffins for years and they never disappoint! However, my leftover creme fraiche gave me the perfect excuse to stray and try an adaptation on the version from Flour. The muffin recipes I’ve tried from that book have all been phenomenal, and these were no exception.

Better-than-Box Corn Muffins

These better-than-box corn muffins take a few more minutes to whip up than opening a box of mix, but it’s worth it! They are so tender while still retaining some of that crumbly texture you expect from a good cornbread. They’re also slightly sweetened, a must for me when it comes to cornbread. The melted butter, oil, and creme fraiche work together to give them great flavor and keep them very moist. Don’t ask me to decide between these and Dorie’s recipe – they’re both great in their own way :) Fortunately, you can never have too many go-to corn muffin recipes, right?

Better-than-Box Corn Muffins
slightly adapted from Flour by Joanne Chang

2 3/4 cups (385 g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (200 g) yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup (165 g) packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (240 g) milk, at room temperature (I used whole)
1/3 cup (70 g) canola oil
3/4 cup (180 g) creme fraiche, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk the butter and brown sugar together in a small bowl until they form a thick paste-like mixture. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs together until broken up and well combined. Add the milk to the eggs, beating until incorporated, followed by the oil, creme fraiche, and then the butter mixture, incorporating each ingredient before adding the next. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold together just until they are combined (the batter will be thick).

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared liners, filling each about 3/4-full. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins spring back when lightly pressed with your fingertip, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow the muffins to cool for a few minutes before removing them to the rack.

The muffins are best on the day they’re made – to refresh on subsequent days, reheat for 4-5 minutes in a 300 F oven. (If frozen, increase to 8-10 minutes in a 300 F oven.)

Makes 18-20 muffins