Spices find their way into cold weather treats more often than summery ones. Gingerbread and spice cakes are rich with many spices, but they’re typically reserved for the holidays and not served during summer. Spices can have a warming effect that is good in the winter, but they deliver flavor all year round and you don’t have to save them for cold weather.
These Lemon Cardamom Cornmeal Muffins are spicy muffins that are almost like gingerbread for the summertime, even though they might look a little plain at first glance. They’re flavored with plenty of cardamom and lemon zest, which highlights the natural citrus notes that you can find in cardamom. A little bit of vanilla adds a mellow sweetness that also goes well with the cardamom. To add even more spiciness, the muffins are packed with diced candied ginger, adding both sweetness and spice to every bite.
The cornmeal is an unusual addition to a spiced-up muffin like this one. In this case, the bright yellow color of the cornmeal highlights the cardamom and lemon in the muffins, but it also delivers an unexpected texture to them. The muffins have a very airy, open crumb and a slightly coarse, crunchiness from the cornmeal. It makes them feel light, but have a bit of heartiness to them. They’re a lot like a sweet and spicy version of cornbread – although it’s a version of cornbread that you would likely serve at brunch before dinner. They’re excellent plain, but they’re also tasty when split open and served with butter and honey.
Lemon Cardamom Cornmeal Muffins with Candied Ginger
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/4 cup finely chopped candied ginger
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, cardamom, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, vegetable oil, vanilla and lemon zest. Pour wet ingredients into cornmeal mixture and whisk until well combined. Stir in candied ginger.
Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.