From America's Test Kitchen Season 4: Sunday Brunch
A corn muffin shouldn’t be as sweet and fluffy as a cupcake, nor should it be dense and “corny” like corn bread. It should taste like corn, but not overpoweringly, and should be moist with a tender crumb and a crunchy top. Our mission was to come up with a recipe for these seemingly simple muffins that struck just the right balance in both texture and flavor. The cornmeal itself proved to be an important factor, and degerminated meal just didn’t have enough corn flavor. A fine-ground, whole grain meal provided better flavor and texture. Our first batches of muffins were too dry, so we experimented with various ways to add moisture; butter, sour cream, and milk provided the moisture, fat (for richness), and acidity (for its tenderizing effect) that we wanted. We tried mixing the ingredients with both the quick-bread and creaming methods; not only was the former the easier way to go, but it also resulted in less airy, cakey muffins. We got our crunchy top from a 400-degree oven. All in all, we’d resolved all of our issues with corn muffins; these were subtly sweet, rich but not dense, and with a texture that was neither cake nor corn bread.
Makes 12 muffins
Whole-grain cornmeal has a fuller flavor than regular cornmeal milled from degerminated corn. To determine what kind of cornmeal a package contains, look closely at the label.