April 2, 2015
Texture matters to me. I'm intrigued when foods are so soft and smooth they seem to melt in your mouth. I'm enchanted with foods that vaporize when you take a bite. And I love it when a crunch resonates inside your head.
Seeds are especially appealing to me. I like the snap of pepitas in salad and the crackle of poppy seeds scattered on a bagel. Little wonder that the first time I went to Cafe Fanny in Berkeley and found their millet muffins, I was hooked.
Millet, star of these muffins, isn't a seed of course, but in this country it's used mostly for birdseed. Much of the rest of the world, however, considers it a staple; historically it's been eaten longer than rice. It is also, apparently, a good crop for arid regions. And given the state of water in California, it might be time we got to know it better.
These muffins use millet to add a spirited crunch to what are essentially straightforward buttermilk muffins. Serve them hot out of the oven, with plenty of the best butter you can find.
(This recipe is slightly modified from former Chez Panisse Chef Joanne Wier’s recipe, found on her blog.)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
12 tablespoons millet, broken up a bit – but not pulverized – in a food processor.
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat an oven to 375 degrees.
Beat the egg and brown sugar well with an electric mixer.
Add the melted butter and 1/2 cup of buttermilk.
Stir in the millet. (If you’re making your batter ahead of time, be sure to wait until right before baking to add the millet. Let it sit, and it'll get soggy and you’ll lose the lovely crunch.) Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together and add to the other ingredients.
Add the other 1/2 cup of buttermilk. Don’t overmix! Place in greased muffin tins.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until golden and a tester comes out clean.
Makes 12 muffins.
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