Firecracker Zucchini Cornbread Muffins
Mark and I served these muffins at our wedding. No joke. The story goes that we were trying to think of a starter to give our guests. At a wedding, when you sit down to eat dinner, what is usually right in front of you? A big fluffy roll or piece of bread and butter right? But alas, I am gluten free, and we wanted everything at the wedding to be gluten free so that wasn’t happening.
One morning when Mark and I were at my parents house this past, we were eating some gluten free cornbread with eggs for breakfast and inspiration struck. I suggested we serve sliced cornbread. It would be an outdoors wedding, kind of rustic, and seriously, who doesn’t love cornbread? Its cheep, easy to make, and doesn’t go bad. So we set out to find the perfect cornbread recipe. We experimented with classics, variations with whole kernels, sweet, spicy, and everything in between.
One day we tried a rather spicy recipe with grated zucchini (like zucchini bread). Despite the fact that these muffins, with the grated zucchini and sliced scallions would be extra work, and that the little red pepper flakes sometimes put our mouths on fire, there was no questioning it – this was the one. My mom and I duplicated the recipe over and over, mixing up ingredients, cooking it in different pans, and sharing with friends for extra opinions.
When it came to the “cooking in different pans” part, we were stumped. The cornbread cooked best in cast iron, but it would be hard to slice evenly for 200 guests. And it would take an awful long time to cook that many batches of cornbread in our cast iron skillets.
And so it happened that we were sitting around the breakfast table a week or so later, eating blueberry muffins, when one of us suggested cooking the cornbread in muffin tins. That would be easy, eliminate slicing, and look super cute. Mark’s mom had a huge muffin tin that cooked like 24 muffins at a time, and a family friend offered to make them all with her daughter. We tested the recipe once more to make sure it worked as muffins and that was it. We had our starter.
We got so many great comments about the muffins at the wedding. They are so moist (because of the zucchini), surprisingly spicy (in a good way), and sweet (because of the maple syrup). Visually they are also lovely because of the green zucchini threads, dots of chia seeds, and teeny speckles of red pepper flakes…. And now you know the story of our wedding cornbread muffins.
Give this recipe a try! I promise you will not be disappointed.
Gluten Free | Makes 10 – 12 regular sized muffins
3 Tbsp. chia seed (I like this brand)
1 cup cornmeal (I like this brand)
1/4 cup corn flour (I like this brand)*2 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 – 2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like your muffins)
1 cup plant-based milk (I used almond milk)
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 cup grated zucchini
3 scallions, sliced into thin rings**
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- Mix the chia seeds with 1/2 cup water in a small bowl and set aside to gel. It should take 15 minutes to attain the right consistency. After it gels, gently whisk in the egg, milk, vinegar, coconut oil, and maple syrup.
- In a large bowl, sift the cornmeal, corn flour, baking powder, salt, and red pepper flakes together.
- Add the wet mixture to the dry, and combine. Do not over-mix. Fold in the zucchini and scallions.
- Grease muffin tin** or add cupcake liners. Pour 1/4 cup amounts of batter into each cup, scraping out any batter remaining in the bowl. Baking until the edges of each muffin are golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool for around 30 minutes before removing and placing on cooling rack. Enjoy!
*Corn flour is a great substitute here for regular wheat flour. I love how earthy these taste. If you don’t have corn flour, gf all-purpose flour or white flour (if not gf) will work too. Also note that subbing all cornmeal will not work.
**Scallions are amazing. They are like mini onions that have a garlic-y flavor. Aka the best combo in the world… Unfortunately, they are not very common, take a little extra work because they are so tiny, and tend to be a bit more expensive. My parents had a bunch in their garden that we used for the wedding, but regardless – I think that this recipe is worth the extra penny. If you don’t have scallions, a small onion would do the trick and maybe add some garlic.
***Pictured in my images are mini muffins (I have a mini muffin tin at home). We served regular sized muffins at the wedding – which is what the cooking times in this recipe are for. If you want to make mini muffins like I did, cut the cooking time down to 15-20 minutes and just watch them more carefully.
Roughly adapted from My New Roots cookbook