A $70 book, worth it for the corn muffins

I’ve stopped using bagged mixes, I’ve stopped using Jiffy. I’ve stopped slamming cookbooks in disgust. Because I finally found a corn muffin I love.

Of course, it’s a pro recipe, from “Baking & Pastry,” a Culinary Institute of America cookbook. It’s a $70 cookbook, so I don’t expect most of you to have it, but I believe it’s required reading in some CIA classes, and I’ve seen it kicking around some New Jersey restaurant kitchens. It’s one of my go-to books.

It’s really geared toward serious bakers and home cooks who dream of opening a bakery someday — and a quick glance will indeed have you making plans for your patisserie.

Nearly 100 pages are devoted to equipment, principles and formulas, before the book gets into basics, like beginner doughs ad rolls. The recipes roll out in greater and greater difficulty, ending with wedding wakes and chocolate creations.

But I’m in love with the corn muffins. I’ve made them a half-dozen times and will do it again this weekend.

My search began about two years ago when I served homemade muffins to a large crowd that my friends deemed, at once, to be hard, flat and inedible. I swiped one from their bread basket and couldn’t disagree. They were pretty awful, even though they’d been perfect after they came out of the oven.

I need something with more character, more softness and the ability to scale up to serve a few hundred. I found it in this recipe that gets some bright sweetness from orange juice concentrate, some softness from pastry flour and integrity because of fussy measurements.

Corn muffins

  • 1 pound, 2 ounces bread flour
  • 1 pound, 2 ounces pastry flour
  • 15 ounces cornmeal
  • 1 ounce salt
  • 1 1/2 ounce baking powder
  • 12 1/2 ounces eggs
  • 30 fluid ounces milk
  • 1 pound, 2 ounces vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 fluid ounces orange juice concentrate
  • 1 pound, 12 ounces sugar

Coat 48 muffin tins with a light film of fat or use paper liners.

Sift together flours, cornmeal, salt and baking powder.

In a large stand mixer, combine eggs, milk, oil, orange juice and sugar, and mix on medium speed with a paddle attachment for 2 minutes.

Add the sifted dry ingredients and mix on low speed until incorporated.

Fill tins three-quarters full, using about 4 ounces of batter per cup. Tap the filled tins to release air bubbles.

Bake at 400 degrees 15 to 18 minutes, or until a skewer inserted near the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Cool in the tins 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

Yield: 48.

From: “Baking & Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft” by the Culinary Institute of America.

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2 thoughts on “A $70 book, worth it for the corn muffins

  1. Welcome to the world of pro baking and cookbooks. I use Wayne Gesslin’s books, “Professional Baking” and “Professional Cooking,” at work. Take a look at “On Cooking.” It’s culinary school text that’s worth the cost. “Food for Fifty” is also a good find. Plus you get a pdf of it when you buy MasterCook software.

    Steven

  2. shauna says:

    Hip Hip HOORAY! Thank you, this has always been such a frustrating thing for me. My dad loves corn muffins and eats one almost every morning for breakfast (store bought from Shop Rite-pretty good) but when he comes for a visit I like to make them for him and always end up frustrated. Cannot wait to try these out in a few weeks!

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