The Inspired Cook

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Corn-Muffin Mix Substitute Ready in a Jiffy

                Oh, no! It happened again!

For the umpteenth time, I found myself without a necessary ingredient for a recipe, an event I’m sure many of you also have faced. In my case, most of these elusive ingredients seem to fall into one particular category, which I like to refer to as products of convenience.

This time, my not having a box of corn muffin mix created a great deal of inconvenience for me. This predicament inspired me to discover a way to prevent this from ever happening again.

So, I conducted a bit of online research for homemade copycat recipes. During my research, I located eight sites listing the same recipe. There could be more, but I stopped searching after that. With so many, who knows who actually created the original recipe?

                Before formulating my own, I baked a box of the popular commercial brand from which to perform comparisons. Then, I prepared the often-posted copycat version.

                Upon first glance, the commercial brand seemed to have risen a bit higher than the copycat. When I cut a piece from each, the texture appeared to be different in two distinct ways.

                The commercial brand was very crumbly. In fact, it was difficult to remove the cut piece from the skillet and put onto a plate. When I picked it up and took a bite of it, it fell apart.

                The copycat version possessed a denser texture and wasn’t crumbly at all. In fact, it held together upon my plating it and taking a bite. Unfortunately, I believe its denseness made it somewhat drier than the commercial brand.

                As for the flavor comparison, both of them tasted sweet, sweeter than I like my cornbread to be. Despite that aspect, they tasted virtually the same. I was surprised by that.

                 My next step consisted of formulating a recipe to produce cornbread with a less dense texture while maintaining the same flavor profile. In order to do so, I tried several recalculations of the amounts of specific ingredients.

                Of course, to accomplish this, I had to adjust one ingredient at a time. This meant that I had to bake a pan of cornbread for each different adjustment to be certain what would produce my desired results.

                After baking four additional pans of cornbread—that’s six in case anyone is counting—I believe I have a winner!

                Of the recipes I tried, my alterations consisted of four things. One, I reversed the amounts of flour and cornmeal. Two, I added more oil. Three, I added more baking powder. Four, I added more milk.

                By increasing the amount of milk, the texture became much lighter, and the bread rose somewhat higher. Because it was less dense, it added a bit of a crumb to the overall texture.

                To test my substitute corn-muffin mix, I was inspired to prepare an old family favorite simply called corn casserole. The recipe has been around for decades, and even Paula Deen has shared her version of it.

                Often called corn pudding, other names include five-ingredient corn casserole and spoonbread. Not all of these recipes add cheese as Paula and I do. While she puts it on top of the casserole, I incorporate cheese into it.

Today I’m sharing both recipes with you. I hope you enjoy the corn dish as much as my family does. As for my corn-muffin mix substitute, I hope you find it as handy in a pinch as I do.

In a Jiffy Substitute for Corn-Muffin Mix

Ingredients:

                1/2 c. yellow cornmeal

                2/3 c. flour

                1 T. baking powder

                3 T. sugar            

1/4 t. salt

Additional Ingredients to Make Muffins or a Pan of Cornbread:

                1 egg

                2 T. oil

                1/2 c. milk

Directions:

                Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Into a medium-sized mixing bowl, place the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt, whisking to blend. Add the egg, oil, and milk, stirring to combine. The batter will be a little lumpy, so do not over-stir as this will make your bread tough. Allow the batter to rest in the bowl for about 5 minutes, and then stir slightly.

                For muffins: Place equal amounts of the batter into six greased muffin tins, filling them about two-thirds full. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

For cornbread: Place the batter into a greased 8-inch round cake pan or pie plate. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Note: I bake my cornbread in an 8-inch cast-iron skillet, which I grease by pouring in one teaspoon of oil and then smearing it over the bottom and sides with a folded paper towel. Then, I place my greased skillet into my oven as it is preheating to 425 degrees F. (Note the increased temperature.) When the oven has reached the desired temperature, I take out my skillet, stir the batter, pour it in, and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

 

For using mix in another recipe:  Add two tablespoons of oil along with the mix. The reason for this is that the commercial brand incorporates the fat—lard, hydrogenated lard, or partially hydrogenated lard—into the mix.   

Yield: equivalent to one 8.5-oz. box of corn-muffin mix

Corn Casserole

Ingredients:

                In a Jiffy Substitute for Corn-Muffin Mix

                2 T. organic grapeseed oil or preferred oil

                1 (14.75-oz.) can cream-style corn

                1 (15.25-oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained

                1/2 c. butter, melted

1 c. sour cream, any type

1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

                Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9- by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.

                Into a large mixing bowl, mix together both types of corn, oil, sour cream, and melted butter. Stir in the substitute for the corn muffin mix. Add the cheese, stirring well to evenly distribute it.

                Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown and done in the center when tested with a toothpick.

Yield: 6-8 servings

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