Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Good Cooking: Hominy Muffins

It's raining today. I got a run in before it really started coming down, but even in warm weather, a rainy day brings comfort food to mind.

So when I got back (and changed into a dry robe: 1930s, of course, peach with brown & green appliques) I sat down to page through old cookbooks.

Last year I scored some great 30s cookbooks. One of my favorites is Good Cooking, by Marjorie Heseltine and Ula M. Dow, 1933 (rev. 1936).

It's well-named; the authors were serious about cooking, and there are not only good recipes, but excellent tips for cooking, baking, canning and more.

Anyway, I started looking in earnest in the "breads" chapter, and the first recipe happened to be hominy muffins. They're actually made with grits, a favorite of mine. And they are leavened with yeast, not baking powder. If you've never had yeast raised muffins, do yourself a favor and try some, even if you don't want to bake them yourself; they're great!

Hot cereals were common in the 30s,and so was the problem of what to do with leftovers. In cookbooks of the period you'll find plenty of oatmeal, rice, and other muffins. Most of them, though, use quick bread recipes.

This is faster than many yeast breads: little to no kneading is required, and only a single one-hour rise. The recipe makes one dozen muffins.

Hominy Muffins (12 muffins)

1/2 c. cooked hominy grits* (hot or cold)
2 tbl. fat [I used butter]
2 tbl. sugar [I used just one]
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. milk, scalded

2 cakes yeast [I used 2 envelopes of dry yeast]
2 c. bread flour

Put the cereal, fat, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl; stir the scalded milk slowly into the contents of the bowl to form a smooth mixture. Cool until lukewarm (when a drop poured on the wrist will feel neither hot nor cold). Crumble the yeast cake [sprinkle both envelopes of yeast] between the fingers into the bowl. Add the flour and beat in the flour and yeast thoroughly.

Fill greased muffin pans half full of the mixture. If a metal tablespoon is dipped into cold water each time before it is dipped into the mixture, the dough will not stick to the spoon**. Let rise in a warm room until the pans are full or about 1 hour. Bake in a moderate oven (375 to 400 F.) for 25 minutes.

If I make these again (and I probably will) I'll do two rises, but they're good. Dense and a bit chewy; they'd be great with a stew or any dish that tastes better with crusty bread.

*I made one serving of grits: 3 tbl. grits to one cup of water. There were a few spoonfuls left over. I smoothed it into a pan to be cut and toasted later

**I kneaded the dough briefly, and then divided it as follows: half, half again, and each of these quarters into thirds. Roll into a ball and place smoothest side up in the muffin cup.

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