cheddar rye muffins

People often ask how I create recipes. I take baking and cooking very seriously as an art form. For years I felt saddened that I didn't inherit my father's ability as an artist. Although having the talent and doing something with it are two entirely different things. It turns out instead of pencils and paper, skillets became my canvas and ingredients my palette.

Many people are too frightened to make the leap, afraid of the unknown, especially in the kitchen. Food is expensive these days whether shopping at a farmers' market or the supermarket, so it's understandable that the thought of wasted ingredients affects how bold and creative we dare to become in our cooking habits.

Remember my post about pattern recipes? It may seem baked goods are in their own category, relying on science and reactions to yield the expected outcome, but that isn't necessarily the case. A year ago I started working with my own pattern recipe, except I hadn't categorized it as such in my mind. To me, it was simply the best muffin recipe I'd ever created.

A tender, light crumb.

Adaptable to both savory and sweet.

The fact that it's egg-free is a bonus for those with food allergies and from a cost perspective—the eggs I choose to buy are rather expensive at the farmers' market.

But back to how I approach recipe development. The moment I taste a new finished recipe, two things happen. First I decide if the recipe as-is yielded the results I wanted. Second, my mind fills with thoughts of how I could make it different, into something new.

So, for those still needing the comfort zone of a recipe, this one is all ready to go. Enjoy.

And if you're ready to start adapting, and feel comfortable flexing your skills in the kitchen, I've made some suggestions on what you can do to put your own spin on this perfect little muffin. Think of it more as a base recipe for whole-grain muffins, and let your creative juices flow from there. I should preface that these are not tested suggestions, rather just the thoughts that popped into my head as I inhaled the scent wafting through the kitchen as I waited for them to cool. Having done this for quite some time now, though, I'm very confident they're all very workable theories.

New on Simple Scratch Cooking: crisp thin crust pizza.

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cheddar rye muffins

makes one dozen

1 1/4 cups (6.5 oz/186 grams) whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup (2.10 oz/60 grams) rye flour

2 tablespoons (29 grams) natural cane sugar

1 tablespoon (12 grams) baking powder

1 teaspoon (6 grams) baking soda

1 teaspoon (4 grams) coarse salt

6 tablespoons (3 ounces) very cold butter, cut into tiny bits

4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1 1/2 cups (337 ml) well-shaken, very cold buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Grease one 12-cup standard size muffin tin or fit with paper liners; set aside.

Add flours, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt to a deep bowl. Whisk to combine. Add butter and using a pastry blender, or your fingers (my preferred method), blend until it forms a pebbly-looking mixture. Stir in the cheddar cheese.

Pour in the buttermilk and stir, using a wooden spoon, until just mixed and there are no visible traces of flour. Evenly spoon into the prepared muffin tins and bake 20 minutes, until tops are golden and spring back when touched. Remove from oven and let cool 5 to 10 minutes in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack to cool a bit longer before serving.

Make It Your Own

  • Substitute an equal amount spelt flour for the rye. You may need to add an extra tablespoon or two of buttermilk, since spelt absorbs liquid differently, but start with the amount directed first, and as needed.
  • Swap in another similar-style melting cheese, like Gruyere or Swiss cheese.
  • Try subbing maple syrup as the sweetener instead of sugar. Instead of adding with the dry ingredients, whisk into the buttermilk before adding the liquid to the flour mixture.
  • Add some fresh chopped herbs, like dill, chives or thyme. Dried thyme might also work nicely here.
  • Stir some chopped caramelized onions into the batter.
  • Scrap the cheese altogether and add fresh berries, diced apples or pears to make a whole-grain fruit muffin.



    I’m glad you realized that you did inherit your father’s artistic ability, it just took you a while to figure out your medium:)
    As someone who is slowly trying to break out of just cooking recipes as is from the cookbook, thanks for the words of encouragment to give it a shot! These cheddar rye muffins look great, i’d love to try them with some chives thrown in too!

  • Elissapr

    Are you kidding me? Rye AND cheddar – some of my two fave things? I will definitely be trying this recipe..and love the ‘make it your own’ section…very helpful..

  • mama's mama

    You may not have gotten your Dad’s “artistic” flair but you did inherit his mother’s love of cooking as she was a very good cook & a great baker.She would be so proud of you!

  • Denise @ Creative Kitchen

    You don’t know how awesome if feels to read your post today 🙂 For years I thought I wasn’t talented or gifted in ANY area. In the last year and a half of food blogging, I’ve come to realize (and now confirmed by your post) that COOKING and CREATING are my gift…and as you say an “art form.”
    How freeing… wonderful….how validating. Thanks for sharing this…it’s great that I am meeting SO many like-minded people that share the same gift. I have to say the “gift” we have IS such a special one. The ability to FEED others and to do it well is such a BLESSING!

  • Gluten Free Diva

    I love the idea of a “pattern”. I’ve been trying to achieve the same thing with gluten free baking. Especially helpful I think for people who want to create a recipe from scratch – a pattern gives them a place to start.
    Just curious – why do you think the recipe worked WITHOUT eggs?

  • Lisa

    I just found your blog and am glad I did. I tried these muffins last night (added some carmelized onions) and they are delicious!

  • Jennie

    Denise—Amen. We give an amazing gift with every meal we serve.
    Ellen (Gluten Free Diva)—I decided to base this recipe off the same premise as a drop muffin, just adding a little more liquid. I figured since biscuits aren’t made with eggs, it would work, and luckily it did! A very easy fix, and it’s been my go-to muffin recipe ever since.
    Lisa—Thanks for stopping by and so glad you liked the muffins 🙂

  • Carly

    I made these last night, with spelt flour, lots of black pepper, and a little cornmeal and ate them with tomato soup. Loved them, thanks for the recipe/inspiration!