Portion/Yield:Makes 15 smaller (canapé-size) muffins or 6–8 large muffins
The delicious aroma of warm melting cheese mixed with smoked bacon is enough to make anyone salivate. These fabulous muffins are quick and easy to make and are ideal for a special breakfast or served as finger food at a drinks party. They also make a delicious lunchbox alternative to ordinary sandwiches.
The polenta gives these muffins a slightly crunchy and light texture. Sometimes I change the flavours and use ingredients that are in the fridge like chopped semi-dried tomatoes and goat’s cheese or Kalamata olives and feta cheese, for a tasty change.
I am a great believer that cooks should use their own initiative to adjust recipes and experiment with different flavours, so I would often encourage you to do the same. However, with this particular recipe, I have made the classic mistake of trying to add too many alternative ingredients, resulting in muffins that are either too greasy or too heavy. So feel free to experiment, but do remember that less is often more. It’s easy to over-complicate flavours and it can ruin your dish completely. Bear in mind that if you use a different cheese to mine, then use one with a similar texture, otherwise it might make the muffins too wet if the cheese becomes too runny when melted.
Ingredients & Method
- 175g plain flour
- 75g polenta
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 100g (cooked weight), smoked back bacon, cooked, cooled, chilled and chopped into small pieces
- 100g Gorgonzola cheese, diced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mixed soft herbs (such as chives, parsley and basil)
- a pinch of sea salt
- a grinding or two of black pepper
- 150ml milk
- 1 large egg
- 50g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
- smoked paprika, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Grease your chosen muffin moulds – I use a 15-hole flexible rubber mould with each hole measuring 5cm wide x 3cm high, or you could use a standard size muffin tin with 6–8 holes.
Put the flour, polenta, baking powder, bacon, cheese, herbs, salt and pepper into a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, egg and melted butter. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir them together to mix, making sure you don’t over-mix the batter (the secret to light muffins is not to over-mix; work lightly and quickly).
Spoon the mixture into the prepared moulds, filling each mould to the top as the muffins don’t rise much during baking. Bake the muffins in the oven until golden brown, allowing about 15 minutes for the smaller ones and 25 minutes for the large ones.
Remove from the oven, lightly dust the muffins with smoked paprika, leave them to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then carefully turn them out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Serve warm or cold.
These muffins are best eaten on the day they are made. Store any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature and eat within 1–2 days. Alternatively, freeze any leftover muffins for up to a month, then defrost overnight at room temperature before serving.