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In the Kitchen With: Zoe Nathan’s Bacon Cheddar Muffins

by Kristina Gill

I am so excited to share a recipe from the recently released Huckleberry cookbook. It seems that my phone hasn’t stopped ringing this year with calls from my LA-based friends telling me how much they love this place called Huckleberry and how so very good everything they eat there is, from the standard menu, to the changing items. When looking through the book, I was torn about which recipe I thought would be the best fit for the column because it all looks so good, but when my eyes fell on the Bacon Cheddar Muffins from the 3:30 am chapter in the book, I knew this was the recipe for us. Muffins are so easy to make, and as we transition to autumn, I think bacon-studded muffins are a great way to welcome the cooler weather. I love Zoe’s advice in the header notes: Please play with these muffins! Make them your own. Let us know what substitions you make if you try out your own twist! In addition to the great food in the Huckleberry book, there is fantastic photography by Matt Armendariz.  –Kristina

About Zoe: Zoe Nathan is the head baker nd co-owner of Huckleberry restaurant in Santa Monica with her husband Josh Loeb. At Huckleberry, she oversees production of the handcrafted breads, breakfast pastries, and desserts and creates all the savory breakfast and lunch dishes. She honed her baking craft at Tartine in San Francisco. Zoe and Josh live in Santa Monica with their son Milo and daughter Tallula. You can follow Zoe on Twitter here, and Instagram here.

See how easy it is to make Zoe’s muffins after the jump!



Please play with this recipe. Add and subtract to your heart’s content. Don’t eat meat? Add additional cheese and herbs for super-cheesy, herby muffins. No rye flour in the pantry? Substitute another flour, like whole wheat, buckwheat, or, if you must, more all-purpose flour. Black pepper is not my thing but Laurel is obsessed. She always adds a healthy dose to these. Ham instead of bacon? Do it. Goat cheese? Why not? Like I said, play!

Browning the tops of these before they overbake inside is the key to success. So you may want to bake one muffin pan at a time, right at the top of your oven. Feel free to ride your oven dial and go hotter or cooler to control the browning, but just remember that color is flavor, so you want these pretty dark.

Bacon Cheddar Muffins

Makes 15 Muffins

  • 6 tbsp/85 g unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1-1⁄2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 3⁄4 cup/100g all-purpose flour
  • 3⁄4 cup/120g cornmeal
  • 6 tbsp/40g rye flour
  • 11⁄2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1⁄2 cup + 1 tbsp / 135 ml canola oil (rapeseed oil)
  • 3 tbsp + 2 tsp/55 ml maple syrup
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp / 175 ml buttermilk
  • 1⁄2 cup/ 70 g diced cheddar (cut into 1-in/2.5-cm cubes), plus 1⁄4 cup/30 g grated cheddar
  • 6 tbsp/40 g grated parmesan
  • 11 slices cooked bacon, coarsely chopped, plus 11⁄2 tbsp bacon fat, cooled
  • 1⁄4 cup/10 g fresh chives, parsley, or a combo, finely chopped
  • Chopped rosemary for garnishing1. Position a rack near the top of your oven and preheat to 400°F/ 200°C. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with 15 paper liners, spacing them evenly between the two pans.
    2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and salt for 1 to 2 minutes until nice and fluffy. Incorporate the eggs slowly, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the all-purpose flour, cornmeal, rye flour, and baking powder and mix until incorporated. Add the canola oil, maple syrup, and buttermilk. Scrape the mixer bowl well, making sure everything is well incorporated. Add the diced cheddar, 4 tbsp/25 g of the parmesan, the bacon, and chives. Mix just until dispersed, folding by hand to be sure.
    3. Fill the muffin cups to the very top.
    4. In a small bowl toss the grated cheddar with the remaining 2 tbsp parmesan and sprinkle evenly over the muffins. Bake for about 15 minutes, until nicely browned but not overbaked inside. Garnish with chopped rosemary. These are best eaten the day they’re made.


Why Zoe loves this recipe:  I love cornbread! And I love sweet and savory so this was my pass at an awesome savory cornbread, still with the sweetness of corn and honey. This is just another expression of my love of sweet and savory.



Portrait of Zoe Nathan by Emily Hart Roth

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  • Does the recipe really need maple syrup? Sounds as though it would make them sweet! Mind you, Americans do eat bacon and maple syrup pancakes together, which always sounds rather gross!

  • Hi Sydneygal! Zoe really loves using the sweet and savory contrast in her creations, but you can definitely leave out the maple syrup if it sounds unappealing to you! Kristina

  • This is the first recipe I’ve tried off of design sponge and these muffins were absolutely delicious … @SYDNEYGAL I seriously recommend the addition of maple syrup! I would put a little less oil for my own taste but they were excellent as is!! Thank you Zoe Nathan!!

  • Just bought the cookbook after hearing a lovely interview with Zoe and trying a recipe from it on the Good Food Blog (love!), so delicious and the book has so many things I want to try, thank you Zoe and Josh!

  • Amazing. My 16yr old “We have to have these in the house all the time now!” Looking forward to experimenting. (ps) goes great with a beer!

  • I just tried this recipe and found that all of that cheddar made the muffins REALLY oily! Ended up having to scratch the muffins and turn them into a casserole.

  • These look great! Gotta try them. One question, what do you do with the 1 1/2 tbsp of reserved bacon fat?

  • These turned out delicious and ultra rich. The maple surup provided a very subtle sweetness that was hardly noticeable if only to add to the complexity of the flavors. Combination of bacon and cornmeal was very good.

    But, I struggled with one thing… Because the formula was so heavy on the fats, it was extremely difficult to tell when the muffins were done inside as they didn’t quite set up properly and kept turning out a bit moist or oily. Took me way longer than 15 minutes to bake and my oven runs hot. There were just way too many fats. Next time I would try substituting unsweetened applesauce for the canola oil and perhaps try another substitution for another one of the fats.

    But they were very tasty overall. Like a savory donut without all the sweetness, probably good paired with a light veggie soup.

  • These were so delicious! They took about 25 minutes to bake for me instead of 15. But there are a few things that I think will make my family love them more:

    1. Use a hand mixer, there isn’t enough butter for my large Kitchenaid mixer.
    2. Use half the bacon. I don’t think you’d miss it.
    3. Use less fat – there was nearly 1 tablespoon of fat left in each muffin’s spot in the muffin tins! Next time I’ll use up to 1/4 cup canola, but I think I’ll replace it w/ as much bacon fat as I have left from cooking the bacon, keeping the total added liquit fat under 1/4 c.
    4. Shred all the cheese to save time instead of cubing it.
    5. Fill the muffin tins a little less – filling them to the top made just 12 muffins for me instead of 15.

    Happy baking, everyone!