Saturday, January 1, 2011

Cheddar and Scallion Muffins

By now we're probably all pretty tired of sweets and candies. (If you aren't, stay tuned because I've got more where that comes from.) Honestly, I don't think I could ever tire of sweet baked goods, but today I thought I'd change it up a bit.
One of my favorite things to bake is quick bread, from muffins to scones to loaves. They give you the sense of accomplishment associated with bread-baking without all the finicky techniques involved in yeast-risen bread. (In all honesty, I am simultaneously fascinated with and terrified by old-fashioned bread baking.)
In search of a savory muffin recipe to serve along white bean soup (more on that later), I arrived at these simple little things. This is the kind of bare basics recipe that I love. The method is foolproof and the variations are endless. I decided to go with a classic cheddar and scallion version, but there are dozens of potential cheese and herb combinations, and I've listed some below.
The muffins boast a tender, slightly irregular crumb and pack a bunch of flavor in such a small package ("good" cheese and fresh herbs certainly help). Perfect as an accompaniment to a soup or salad or just by themselves, these muffins are ones I will return to again and again.
Chedder and Scallion Muffins
Adapted from Sugarcrafter

My favorite thing about these muffins is how much the flavor can change just by swapping in different combinations of cheese, herbs, and other add-ins. Instead of cheddar cheese, you could use Gruyere, Swiss, parmesan, Manchego (my absolute favorite cheese), Chevre, Comte, Fontina, Taleggio, or blue cheese. You could even combine cheeses for a more complex flavor (Fontina in the muffin and parmesan sprinkled on top, for example). Really, any good melting cheese would be fabulous. Instead of scallions, you could use chives, parsley, cilantro (if you're into that sort of thing), thyme, rosemary, sage, marjoram, or basil. Again, any fresh herb would be a fantastic complement if it's paired with a cheese harmoniously. I'd use 2 to 4 tablespoons depending on how strong of an herb flavor you want. For more inspiration, look to the end of the recipe for more detailed variations. Depending on how much batter you put in the muffin tins, you will get anywhere from 9 to 12 muffins. (I ended up with 9 but the muffins were a little larger.)

Yield: 9 to 12 muffins (see above)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 scant tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese (yellow or white), plus 1/2 cup (optional), grated
1 large scallion, chopped
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup milk (I used 1%)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Position an oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners or spray with vegetable oil spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together to combine. Add 1 cup of cheese and whisk again to combine.

In a measuring cup, stir the scallions, egg, milk, and butter together. Add to the dry ingredients and whisk quickly to combine. Don't overmix or the muffins will be tough instead of tender.

Divide the batter among the muffin tins. If you like, sprinkle the additional 1/2 cup of cheese evenly over the muffins. The additional cheese will melt into a nice crust of sorts on the top of the muffins, but you can certainly omit it or use a different cheese if you are so inclined.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week.

Flavor variations:
Gruyere cheese, thyme, and caramelized onions. Parmesan and Fontina, rosemary, and sundried tomatoes. Goat cheese, roasted red peppers, and parsley. Swiss, finely diced ham, and basil.


  1. these are delicious - they were perfect with the soup...and for leftovers!!

  2. haha - my two favorite parts: "good" cheese & "if you're into that sort of thing" about parsley - hahaha! i just baked ina's stilton & walnut crackers - they were really good, but a little too buttery - which i guess i should have expected!

  3. looks like something i can put andrew to work on-these would go really nice with the salad i'm eating right now. so what exatly would be good cheese-isn't it all "good"?

  4. I love savory muffins with hearty meals and soups. These look amazing. I am definitely going to make these soon! I love the idea of combining cheeses in the muffin.

  5. its 9 am here, and i want to eat a dozen of these asap!