Fresh corn on my kitchen counter for making easy muffins triggers off memories from years ago. Standing tall over the hedge, silk glinting in the sun, the cobs perched like trapeze artists tantalised my greedy little hands. I remember our tiny but bountiful kitchen garden keeping its secrets in a corner of our main garden, behind the hedge. But it could never hide the towering corn reaching for the sky, as if meaning to borrow some yellow from the sun. Those few maize plants among the eggplants, tomatoes and okra on that small plot couldn’t have been more generous. Armfuls of corn were frequently shared with friends and neighbours.
We ate them roasted on coals, rubbed with small, sour lemons and dusted with a salt and red chilli powder rub. Later, in boarding school, for the first time I had boiled corn slathered with butter. Smoke blackened, roasted corn was social, street food, enjoyed with college buddies and workmates after work. Drenched in the monsoon downpour, tentatively dipping my toes in the waters of my first love, I still remember the sweet smoke of roasted corn mingling with his on a windy beach.
Now, baking corn muffins for my family, I cannot help but wonder at the threads that knot my experiences of people and places to food. They lie dormant and invisible most of the time, waiting for an opportune moment to unfurl and reveal their vivid pictures, smells and sensations. I love these ambushes that reveal postcards tucked away in my mind.
I like my corn young and sweet. The kernels were young, tender and juicy on the cobs I bought and I wanted to retain their delicate bite. I also wanted to make easy muffins as an after-school snack for my son, that would feel fresh and light. Most corn muffins are a mix of cornmeal and fresh or canned sweet corn. Strictly speaking, this would technically be a muffin but eat more like a crustless quiche because it has very little flour. High bran whole wheat flour and a small amount of all purpose flour provide the binding this delicious but easy muffin, but you could play around with your choice of flour in a combination with cornmeal. Corn and good, sharp cheddar make the foundation here. Again, you could easily replace the cheddar with feta or another cheese. Add blue cheese and it would make a great appetiser for a cocktail party. They’re so easy and quick that it makes sense to double this recipe and get a good batch for large gatherings, picnics or road trips.
- 250 g fresh,tender corn kernels removed from the cob
- 50 g all-purpose plain flour
- 100 g high bran whole wheat flour
- 180 g sharp cheddar cheese, crumbled
- 120 ml milk
- 60 ml olive oil
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
- 1 tbsp fresh or 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp soda bicarb
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C and lightly spray or butter a muffin tin.
- In a food processor, roughly pulp 200 g of the corn to a coarse purée.Set aside the remaining corn for later.
- In a large bowl sift together the flours, salt, baking powder, soda bicarb and chilli flakes.
- In another bowl whisk together the milk, olive oil and egg. Mix in the pureed corn, oregano and crumbled cheese.
- Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and finally add the corn.
- Fill mold with the mixture till 3/4 full and bake for 20 minutes till done.
- These cook very quickly so check at 15 minutes if you have a very hot oven.
- These are delicate when warm, so handle them gently while removing from the molds.