Everyone has a favorite recipe for cornbread and a strong opinion on how it should be made. True to my southern roots, I prefer to use white stone ground corn meal with little or no sugar.
Cooks from other parts of the country often prefer yellow cornmeal and a healthy dose of sugar resulting in cornbread that is as sweet as cake.
These seasonal muffins are tender and moist from the addition of pumpkin puree. Although the recipe calls for one tablespoon sugar, the muffins are not noticably sweet. Buttermilk is essential!
The corn muffins would make a nice addition to your harvest bread basket and are ideal for making old fashioned cornbread dressing. For parties, the golden muffins are fabulous stuffed with slices of smoked turkey or honey ham with a spoonful of cranberry chutney.
In developing the recipe, I used Corn Muffin Mix from Cracker Barrel’s Old Country Store. The mix is outstanding and makes tasty corn muffins like those sold at the Cracker Barrel restaurants. This product is produced by C. H. Guenther and Son, Inc. which does business as Pioneer Flour Mills. The company retails the highly-regarded White Lily branded products.
I often make a pan of cornbread using my grandmother’s well-seasoned 9-inch cast iron skillet. The crust turns out crispy and delicious. I preheat the oven to 400 degrees then heat the skillet on a stovetop burner with 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. (Country cooks like to use bacon drippings or shortening.)
When very hot, I pour the cornbread batter into the pan. The pan of sizzling batter then goes into the oven to bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until done. (The pan of fat can also be heated inside the oven.)
Serve the corn muffins warm with butter or margarine. Wedges of pumpkin cornbread make a delicious base for homemade turkey chili.
Pumpkin Corn Muffins
1-1/4 cups self-rising corn meal mix
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup fresh or canned pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
2-1/2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
1/8 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 360 degrees. Coat muffin tin with vegetable spray. In a small bowl, whisk together corn meal mix and flour to combine.
In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, buttermilk, sugar and salt. Add cornmeal and flour blend to pumpkin mixture. Stir gently, just to combine ingredients. Do not overmix.
Spoon mixture into muffin tins. Bake 15 to 17 minutes or until done. Cool 4 to 5 minutes then remove corn muffins from pan. Best served while warm. Muffins can be reheated briefly in the microwave. Makes 6 to 7 muffins.
The batter will make up to 7 muffins. If you use a 12-muffin tin, pour a little water into the remaining 5 empty muffin cups before baking. Or double the muffin recipe to fill the pan.