Corn muffins are one of the simplest muffins of all, and they're also my favorite. Not only do I appreciate the short list of pantry ingredients and the easy whisk-in-one-bowl method, but I like the crunch and gritty texture of the cornmeal and its sweet, earthy taste. And out of any muffin variety except bran, a corn muffin feels healthier and less like cake. (Though trust me, my appetite has no objections to cakey muffins).
As basic and bare boned as this recipe is, I intended it to have a much more layered flavor profile. At a restaurant years ago, I tasted a unique and delicious cornbread which was full of honey and cheddar and speckled with black pepper. Wanting to recreate those flavors, I experimented with a few batches of muffins. But since I wanted to serve these for breakfast, I just wasn't sold on the mix of sweet and savory flavors going on. After taking out the black pepper, and then the cheddar, I ended up with a simply moist honey muffin that I couldn't stop chowing down on.
Some may see it as boring, but honey is a perfect stand alone complement to the nutty cornmeal. Keeping the flavors pared down let the corn flavor come through while still achieving a flavored muffin. The sweetness level is at the perfect pitch: the combination of honey and sugar has just enough honey flavor without being overly sweet. For bigger honey cravings, lash on a dollop of the rich honey butter. Simply put, simple is often best.