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Bake, Breakfasts, Desserts

Willa Jean's lemon cornmeal muffins

Willa Jean's lemon cornmeal muffins
Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times

Lightly sweet and with a tender crumb, a batch of fresh lemon cornmeal muffins can be a powerful thing. Just ask reader Susan Slesinger of Seal Beach; she’s been thinking about the little cakes at chef John Besh’s Willa Jean ... Read more

Total time: 1 hour, plus cooling time. | Makes 1 ½ dozen muffins.

Cornmeal muffins

  • 1 ½ cups (6.4 ounces) AP flour
  • ¾ cup cornmeal
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 7 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup plus 5 teaspoons (6 ounces) sugar
  • Very finely grated zest from 5 lemons
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ cup plus 1 ½ teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 ½ teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cups ricotta, at room temperature
  • ½ cup mascarpone, at room temperature

Step 1Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tins with spray oil.

Step 2In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Step 3In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and zest until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated. Slowly beat in the lemon juice, oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract until fully combined.

Step 4In a separate bowl, whisk together the ricotta and mascarpone cheeses.

Step 5Slowly beat in one-third of the flour mixture into the muffin batter, then beat in one-half of the cheese mixture. Beat in half of the remaining flour mixture, then the rest of the cheese. Finally, beat in the last of the flour just until incorporated.

Step 6Portion the batter into the prepared muffin tins and bake until the muffins are puffed and golden, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove and cool the muffins in the tins on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes before removing. Cool completely before glazing.

Glaze and assembly

  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup cream (milk or water can be substituted)
  • Prepared muffins

Step 1Whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon juice and cream to form a glaze. Drizzle a generous tablespoon over each of the muffins and serve immediately, or set aside to allow the glaze to set up before serving.

Note: Adapted from a recipe by Kelly Field, chef and partner at Willa Jean Restaurant in New Orleans.


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