Savory bakes are the underdogs of the baking world, and hey, there's reasons for that, reasons that cannot be argued with, like brownies. But today we're resolutely batting for Team Savory, and really, it's not hard to hit it out of the ballpark when you add cheese. All sorts. Also, pesto. These savory muffins are anchored by pesto, but otherwise, you can choose your own cheesy adventure and it's all going somewhere good.
So, which three cheeses exactly?
There are three kinds of cheese in the muffin batter: a grated or shredded yellow cheese, a creamy white cheese, and a semi-soft white cheese. Each one, much like us, struts and frets his hour upon the stage: the yellow cheese is there for flavor, the creamy white cheese for structure, and the semi-soft cheese for texture. Here are the options I've tried (yep, these muffins are a regular in my rotation) and which I recommend:
- Grated cheese: cheddar, mozzarella, or a combination
- Creamy white cheese: sour cream, plain yogurt, or Israeli white cheese
- Semi-soft cheese: feta, goat, or ricotta.
They're all good. Use what you like or have on hand; they're functionally equivalent here, so you can't go wrong, as long as you stick to the options in each category.
One quick tip: Don't underbake these muffins—they have a lot of moisture from the soft cheese in them, so make sure your tester/toothpick comes out clean before you pull them from the oven.
You don't have to make pesto
Unless you want to. We'll tackle making our own pesto someday, natch. But for now, we're going to assume you've got some pesto made ahead or jarred. My intransigent inner snob doth protest, but honestly, Schneider's jarred pesto tastes just like an Italian grandma made it. It keeps a long time in the fridge and is great for dabbing on sandwiches, omelettes, pizzas, all sorts of things. By the way, it's also parve. So yeah, that's what I use.
How to eat a savory muffin
Okay, well, I'm pretty sure you've got the mechanics down, but if you're wondering what exactly to have with your savory muffin, I think a runny egg and some salad are always a good idea. These are also nice to serve with a fish main dish, with Tuscan-style white beans, or on Shabbat for one of the lighter meals.
Need more cheese?
- Pashtida — make sure to stick a ton of grated cheese on top.
- Make your own farmer's cheese — if you're up for a project, this is a gratifying way to literally make your own cheese in like, half an hour; it's fun to do with kids, too.
- Israeli Sweet Cheese and Raisin Blintzes — stuff some cheese in blintzes!
Savory Three-Cheese Pesto Muffins (dairy)
- muffin pan
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour - 190 g
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ cup sour cream or plain yogurt - 120 g
- ½ cup milk - 120 ml
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup prepared pesto - 60 ml
- 2 Tbsp olive oil - 30 ml
- ½ cup feta cheese or ricotta, crumbled - 75 g
- ½ cup shredded cheese, such as mozzarella or cheddar - 50 g
- pinch black pepper
- Preheat oven to 375°F / 190°C and line or grease a muffin pan.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the wet ingredients until well blended.
- Add the dry ingredients and fold gently until just combined.
- Scoop evenly into the lined muffin cups (you should be get 10 to 12 muffins) and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 22-25 min.