Making a great muffin is a lot like the first few years working in a professional kitchen—you’re going to take some lumps. Whether it’s that tray of bread that toasted just a little too long, or knocking that perfectly finished sauce over at just the wrong time, there are bound to be a few bumps (or lumps!) on the road to muffin greatness. You can accept and learn from them or toss in your side towel and walk off discouraged. If you want to bake muffins that are tender and perfectly moist, learn to take your lumps and continue reading.
Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, yellow cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and red pepper in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
The key to a nice even crumb—and no tunnels or air pockets—is all in the mixing. For the best results, stir “wet” and “dry” ingredients together gently, and quit before you think you’re finished.
Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray.
Be sure not to overfill your muffin cups—they should be filled between two-thirds and three-fourths full for perfectly peaked muffins rather than ones that spill over their tops. (A great batter means nothing if half of it winds up on the floor of your oven!)
Sprinkle muffins evenly with remaining 1 ounce cheese and remaining 1 tablespoon chives. Bake at 400° for 13 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Remove muffins from tin; cool on a wire rack.