I was buggin’ on a Wednesday night. Cranky, tired, cooped up—it was time to take a breather. So the honey and I headed down to Frontier Bar in East Austin to catch some dope hip-hop.
There I was at the bar, minding my own business over a cold brew, when this cute girl with a funky haircut and funkier style set down a couple of goodie-packed trays a few seats down. Trying not to be snoopy, I used my super-foodie side glance and detected sandwiches and baked goods of some sort.
“Help yourself!” she said a few minutes later, and presented her homemade po’ boys and gluten-free buckwheat muffins with raspberries and peaches. She didn’t have to tell me twice.
I must admit I was so taken by those insanely good muffins that I forgot to even ask what kind of po’ boys she was serving, which is significant, because I love me some po’ boys. I never even got that far. I ate that first muffin while wandering outside and then promptly walked right back to the bar and might as well have said, “Come here often?”
Miss Corrine Darmon, also known as “Betty Underground,” has been baking sinful creations like rosemary and Pabst table bread and “PumpKing” muffins with chocolate ganache and walnuts (many vegan and gluten-free) for the better part of her years. She’ll soon be serving her goods on weekends out on the bar’s patio, which is why she’d brought a sample that night.
Corinne’s passion for baking began with brownies. Growing up across from a small bake shop in New York, she and her dad made a tradition of getting the “best brownies in town” whenever he’d come home from work.
“It was his only vice, and the one thing he coveted,” she said. “We loved them so much, one day when I was a small child while we were waiting in line I demanded to learn to make these brownies.”
And so it began. Amy, the owner of the bakery, regularly invited lil’ Corinne into her “busy as hell” kitchen to decorate cookies, make dough and master bread. “I had a mean sourdough at six years old,” she said.
Since then, Corinne has bloomed into a devoted and dynamic baker, cranking out artisan breads, sweet breads, and pastries of all kinds. “My passion for baking carried me everywhere, and became an enormous part of my life. Baking truly makes me happy, and driven, and proud,” she said.
When she found out her father had Celiac disease, Corinne began experimenting with gluten-free flours, and with that motivation has developed really great recipes for G-free baked goods that have wonderful texture and incredible flavors. I’d say that’s a pretty nice payback for all those brownies.
Corinne can also throw down outside the oven, making her own spice rubs, fish fries, condiments, side dishes, and inventive, flavor-packed meals. But it’s baking that makes her shine.
“Having gone through a lot of hardships, I feel lucky to have loved the art so hard. It has definitely held me high through some very dark years,” she said. “It’s an age old art and I’m beyond myself that I have the love to carry it on along with so many others.”
Before we rolled out that night, I asked Betty Underground if she’d be willing to share one of her recipes with us. I walked away with the formula to recreate those mind-blowing muffins, scrawled on the back of a flyer in her dainty cursive.
I hadn’t worked from a handwritten recipe in a while. There must have been some magic in it, because the aroma that filled my apartment and the goodies I pulled out of the oven were unmatched in all of my baking experiences. Just heavenly.
To try out my tiny twist on Corinne’s creation, check out today’s recipe for Gluten-Free Mango Muffins With Lavender.